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How to Be a Powerful Coach and Mentor: Break These Management Rules

Managers, departments, and organizations are always looking for the newest secrets regarding how to best manage their employees. But when it comes to how to become the best manager, there is a lot of conflicting advice floating around out there.  The truth is that it’s tough to know which strategies truly lead to workforce success, and if you’re following the wrong advice, you may be harming rather than helping your team.

Roth Staffing Companies, in partnership with workplace culture expert and bestselling author Curt Coffman, has determined which rules of conventional management wisdom great managers break in order to build productive and engaged workforces.  Additionally, read on to discover how to be a powerful coach and mentor to employees, and the effects that this can have upon your department or organization’s financial performance.

Break This Rule: “Don’t Play Favorites”

Do This: Focus on Top Performers

“Top performers are the archetype of achievement, and they provide the rest of your team a great model to strive toward,” explains Curt Coffman, Senior Partner and Chief Science Officer of The Coffman Organization.  “Therefore, don’t think of it as ‘favoritism’ when carving out more time to spend with top performers; think of it as an investment in your entire team.  When other coworkers see the standard that your best employees set, they are likely to set their sights on that level of performance and motivation as well, which can transform your workforce from good to great.”

Break This Rule: “Enforce a Manager-Subordinate Relationship”

Do This: Be a Coach and Mentor

The best managers promote a coaching/mentor relationship with their team members rather than enforcing a boss-subordinate atmosphere.  Today, information is widely available on the Internet and team members may actually have more information at their disposal than managers have accumulated over the years.  Managers should focus on uncluttering coworkers’ minds and positioning them in situations that allow maximum leverage of their talents and abilities in order to reach their full potential.

Break This Rule: “Establish Steps and Processes for Efficiency”  

Do This: Set Your Sights on Outcomes

“It may be tempting to force your team into accomplishing a project using the processes you view as the best and most efficient, but don’t give in to the temptation!” states Mimi Taylor Senior Vice President of Finance and Accounting for Roth Staffing Companies.  “When steps become the focus, the outcome gets lost.  Start each day rallying your teams around what you hope to accomplish.  Provide team members the autonomy to carry out their duties using the practices that they find most instinctual and helpful.  After all, the most important thing is that they take ownership over their projects.”

Break This Rule: Fixate on Weaknesses

Do This: Strengths-Based Leadership

“At Roth Staffing Companies, every new coworker takes a strengths assessment their first day on the job,” states Roth Staffing’s Executive Vice President Pamela Sexauer.  “They receive a framed printout of their top five strengths to keep on their desk and from that day forward, these top five attributes help to guide how their managers interact with them.”

Overall, great managers understand that fixing weaknesses might reduce errors, but strengths-building leads to success.  Gallup’s data about human behavior and motivation suggests that employees who utilize their strengths on a daily basis are 6 times more likely to be engaged at the workplace than those who do not.

Break This Rule: Assume that Employees Change Drastically

Do This: Leverage Employees’ Inherent Skills and Personalities   

After perusing the Strengths section above, you may be wondering: What is the point of identifying workers’ strengths if they will most likely change in the near future?  No need to worry—people don’t transform all that much, despite what conventional wisdom suggests.

Jess Bushey, Market Director for Roth Staffing Companies, explains: “Is one of your employees inherently shy and hesitant to speak up during inter-departmental meetings?  Rather than forcing him or her to stress over becoming more extroverted, consider the fact that their introverted personality probably makes them a great listener.  Ask if they would be interested in being the designated note taker during important group meetings and take charge of reporting the most pertinent facts and action items back to the rest of your team.  As a result, your team will become informed and feel ‘in the know’ while your employee succeeds using his or her inherent skills.”

Better Managers Result in Healthier Financial Performance

Effective and engaging managers have a ripple effect, buoying the rest of the workforce.  When under the right leadership, employees are happier and your workplace becomes a better place to work.  And it’s not just about the “touchy feely” effects; increased engagement and productivity can make quite a difference to your organization’s financial footing.

According to Quantum Workplace’s Employee Engagement Trends Report, which assessed more than 400,000 employees and about 5,000 workplaces, organizations with a higher than average level of engagement saw increased sales over a three-year period.  Surveyed businesses that reported increasing sales featured a 70% employee engagement rate, while those with declining sales had an only 59.5% engagement rate.

The benefits don’t stop there!  Organizations with top performers receive better employee referrals as well.  The University of California at Berkeley’s study titled “The Value of Hiring Through Referrals” demonstrated that:

  • Coworker referrals from top performers expended a much higher level of output than referrals from below average employees
  • Employees referred by top performers can have a 90% great profit impact than average recommendations

Clearly, becoming a better manager is not only about promoting a more enjoyable workplace and cultivating a more passionate workforce, it is also an investment in the financial health of your organization.  With all of these benefits on the table, what’s breaking a few conventional management rules?


Sources: Curt Coffman, The Coffman Organization, Quantum Workplace, Gallup, Forbes, SHRM, The University of California at Berkeley’s study “The Value of Hiring Referrals”