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But My Manager Doesn’t Coach!

by David Brock on November 16th, 2013

If you are the sensitive sort, particularly about this topic, you may just want to skip this post, I’m a little angry.

After writing, Who Benefits Most From Coaching, I was deluged with emails and comments on various forums.  All had the same basic theme:  “The managers in my company don’t seem to care about coaching.”  Or, “It is non existent in my company, how do I get coaching when managers don’t want to coach?”

I was surprised and disappointed by the number of sales people expressing those sentiments.

I don’t understand “managers” who don’t view coaching as a critical element of their jobs.  It makes me wonder what they think their job is—-an administrator, a report writer?  Technology can solve that problem, so what else is there left for the manager to do?

I’m pretty hard nosed about the role of leaders and managers in the organization.  The sole reason for management to exist is to maximize the performance of the organization and each individual in the organization.  There is no other reason for managers.

Managers maximize performance through a number of vehicles–they put in place the right strategies, processes, and programs.  They make sure they have the right people and that those people have the capabilities to perform in their jobs.  They make sure they get their people the resources to perform in their jobs.  They develop their organizations and each individual in the organization to achieve their full potential—not just this year, but next year and the following year and the ……

Everything is focused on maximizing the performance of the organization and individuals that make up the organization.

The way managers “make their numbers,” is through their people.  It’s impossible to make your numbers otherwise!  Do the math, it’s fairly simple.  Look at the number of deals a sales person has to close to make their goal.  Multiply that by the number of people you have.  Even the “superman” manager can’t do the job!

So managers have to get things done through their people.  They have to maximize the performance and contribution of everyone in their team.  The key means through which the manager achieves this is to make sure their people have the right skills, to continue to sharpen their ability to execute using those skills, and to continue to learn, improve  and grow.  It’s also about identifying bad habits and practices, helping people understand what’s wrong, and helping them to correct these.  All of this is what coaching is all about.

So when I hear about managers who don’t want to coach, who don’t have the time to coach, my reaction is, “So you don’t want to do your job, you aren’t committed to maximizing the performance of your team!”  (Quietly, I’m also thinking, “I’m sure we can find someone who does want to do the job.”)

Stated differently, at any level, coaching is the number one priority of the leader.  If they are committed to achieving the organization’s goals, they need to make sure each person is performing at the highest levels. (As a side note, several readers commented on their military experience in which training and constant coaching are embedded into what people at all levels do.)

Now in fairness, many new managers don’t know it’s their job to coach.  That’s the responsibility of their manager–all the way up the food chain.  Executives need to coach their subordinates, those executives need to coach the managers reporting to them, and so on.  Often, in coaching other managers the coaching is on coaching–that is improving the skills and effectiveness of managers in coaching their own people.

If you don’t want to coach, then you don’t want to be a manager or leader.  If you don’t have the time to coach or are doing it ineffectively, then you aren’t doing your job.

  1. Can I hear an Amen.. I have absolutely seen a decline of coaching in the organizations I have worked with.

  2. David, great article with very important information! Too many managers simply do not know how, don’t have the proper tools or don’t have the interest. I became a business advisor and executive coach 21 years ago! I was unable to find an internal mentor or external coach (unusual in the 90’s) to help me navigate the paradigm of women in management! The good news is that I’ve helped 100’s save their career and get promoted in the process! Many have gone on to become great coaches themselves!

  3. Kathy Copelin permalink

    Wow, nice wake up call David!

  4. Some define coaching as what they already do. They fail to understand that coaching is a process with specific skill sets. This is the failure of top executive leadership and not the failure of sales management.

    My sense is there continues to be even more a lack of clarity and hence the decline in the effectiveness of coaching.

    Leanne Hoagland-Smith

    • Leanne: Top management must set the example and reinforce the importance of coaching. Too few do, so it’s no wonder to see that coaching isn’t being done–or at least effectively.

  5. A good manager knows that each member of their team has unique skills and weakness, To make the team as successful as it can be those best practices and habits from Employee A can be taught (or should at least try to teach) to Employee B. And Employee A’s weaknesses need to be addressed so they aren’t holding back the rest of their team. All that comes with dedicated coaching.

    • Great comment Dan, we have to customize our approach to that which is most effective to each individual.

  6. Amen here also. The responsibility of a sales manager is to develop the effectiveness of his team. Too many run around “closing big deals” and then wonder why none of their team can “close big deals”. Leanne is correct, this is ultimately the responsibility of the company leadership to make sure this happens, however as they typically have less experience than the Sales Manager, they default to his judgement.

  7. David, as soon as I finished reading your post I was going to mention Leanne and how much she emphasizes the importance of coaching amongst sales reps and their managers.

    Along with coaching, there has to be a sense sincerity and the push that they in fact have the ability to reach their goals. They need the motivation and the right tools, like Badger Maps, to get them ahead.

    Some managers might not know it is their job to coach, but some already have it in them which makes them the most successful coaches and managers they can be.

  8. Doug Schmidt permalink

    Dave, the lack of coaching may be more common place than we think. Rather than concentrate on the lack of coaching here are solutions to the coaching challenge – as a sales rep you can still take initiative by (1) reading subject matter related to your profession (2) hire a coach out of your own pocket (3) develop a peer sales mentoring and coaching network to exchange ideas, best practices, tactics, etc. (4) develop your own best practices and training materials

  9. Sahela permalink

    Great post David. Just I have a question, my mentor always tell me that ‘Coachee makes a Coach and Mentee makes a Mentor”. I have found my manager is not interested for coaching. Is it my failure to make a Coach as a Coachee?

  10. sally permalink

    Great article! I have approached couple of senior manager to help me on my. Career plan..either they are busy or ignore me by purpose..overall, I don’t get a proper support and of the senior manager refused to accept my request and he said he doesn’t know how to help me while he doesn’t know me!!!!!

    • Sounds like you are in a difficult situation Sally. Might be best to move on to an organization that believes in coaching

      • sally permalink

        Thanks David! I am looking for a change for sure either internal or external opportunity .
        Since I couldn’t find any coach, I have started to follow your posts;
        Thanks again for your feedback.

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