Giving accidental managers the red card: a winning strategy through coaching skills

2nd November by Karen Smart

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Here we are again. Accidental managers are still burdening British workplaces. New research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) shows that 82% of managers who enter management positions have not received any formal management and leadership training.

We are stuck in a cycle where poor management is draining company performance and ineffective managers are having a deep impact on employees including on their motivation, satisfaction and likelihood to leave their job.

In high-performing organisations we know that good managers make the difference. They are pivotal in setting the tone, standards and culture of the modern workplace, so it is time to show poor management practices the red card and encourage employers to give their management hopefuls the proper learning and development opportunities they need to so that bad behaviours can be stamped out.

The accidental manager predicament

Accidental managers, by definition, are not groomed for leadership roles. These are individuals who didn’t originally plan to steer teams or departments but have ascended the ranks because of their technical expertise or other non-managerial qualities. But, once they are in these positions, they often find themselves navigating unchartered waters. They might struggle with people management, communication and the myriad of responsibilities that come with being a manager.

The coaching approach – a practical investment

As the CMI report tells us, sustained good management and leadership practices are essential tools to creating a positive, productive work environment and reducing turnover. Happy and engaged staff will be more productive and the business will have the impetus to meet and exceed its business objectives.

A commitment to raising skills with high-quality training and development like coaching skills can equip all of your people managers with the most effective tools to lead by example, bring out the best in others and change their workplace for the better.

Here is why coaching skills training is a win-win strategy for all of the stakeholders involved:

Benefits for the accidental manager

Accidental managers often feel like they are in over their heads, grappling with issues they never anticipated. Coaching skills can equip them with the tools and mindset to build their confidence as coaching fosters self-awareness and self-confidence which allows them to feel more in control of their roles.

It can also help to enhance communication as accidental managers learn how to actively listen, ask open questions and provide feedback. It can also help to resolve conflict as a coaching approach could help managers mediate conflicts within the team and maintain a harmonious working environment.

Benefits for direct reports and team members

Team members working under an accidental manager also stand to gain significantly from a coaching-orientated leadership or management style.

A coaching approach will encourage employees to take ownership of their tasks and development, boosting motivation. Direct reports may also receive individualised feedback which will enable them to develop and grow in their roles. Job satisfaction is also likely to improve as when managers adopt a coaching mindset, colleagues report that they feel heard, valued and supported.

Benefits for the organisation

A coaching-driven approach for accidental managers can have far-reaching positive consequences for the organisation.

Coaching can enhance teamwork, accountability and skill development which leads to improved performance and productivity. It also reduces turnover by making employees more likely to stay with an organisation that invests in their development.

In addition, coaching skills provide a solid foundation for future leaders and ensures a robust leadership pipeline. Most importantly, a coaching approach fosters a culture of continuous improvement and open communication which creates a harmonious and innovative workplace.

Taking action in your organisation

The bottom line is clear, investing in coaching skills for accidental managers is a strategic move that can transform a struggling manager into a confident and effective leader, benefitting not just them, but their team and the organisation as a whole.

If you are an HR professional or an employee, here is how you can take positive action to address this situation in your place of work:

1 Advocate for coaching programmes – encourage your HR department to invest in coaching and leadership development programmes purpose built for accidental managers.

2 Lead by example – if you find yourself in an accidental manager role, take the initiative to develop your coaching skills. You can lead your team effectively by embracing a coaching style.

3 Mentorship and support – promote a culture of mentoring and support within your organisation. Experienced managers can mentor accidental managers to share their knowledge and expertise.

4 Feedback and evaluation – continuously evaluate the impact of coaching-orientated management on performance and job satisfaction. Use this data to make informed decisions about your coaching programmes.

It is time to give accidental managers the red card in the sense of changing their approach. Management needs to be treated as a crucial skill. It is a goal worth striving for as it is an investment that transforms under prepared managers into inspiring leaders. It can create a positive ripple effect throughout the organisation because coaching skills empower accidental managers to navigate the challenges of their roles while nurturing their teams and fostering in a thriving workplace.