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How can I encourage managers to shift from blaming to coaching?

4 min read


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Q. How can I encourage managers to shift from blaming to coaching mode? What works best?

1. Create clear lines of accountability

At the end of the day, you as the business owner are ultimately accountable for each issue that occurs in your company. Blame is what happens when people try to avoid accountability for something they own, but sometimes those lines aren’t clear. One thing we try to do is lay the right foundation for taking responsibility, outlining clear lines of accountability and responsibility within the management team. — Patrick Linton, Bolton Remote

2. Have your team evaluate themselves

The best way to encourage managers to shift to coaching mode from blaming mode is to have them evaluate themselves and take ownership of what goes down in the company. There’s no magic bullet to this. It takes the right type of person, and the work of getting this done occurs in the hiring process. — Travis Smith, V.I.P. Waste Services LLC

3. Build on praise

The best way to manage a team is through praise. When you scold, employees get defensive. When you remain silent, employees get confused. When you praise, employees know what you expect and they learn exactly what success looks like in your company. Ask managers to coach their teams through praise, instead of punishment or silence. — Jared Brown, Hubstaff

4. Encourage managers to break down barriers

A manager’s job is to make it easy for his/her employees to succeed. That means removing barriers that could be getting in the way of an employee’s work and fostering the development of new skills. Thinking about management in this way encourages support versus critique. The manager is there to help the employee build muscle, not run laps because they were late. — Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR

5. Give your team the right tools

Coaching is more than a shift in management style; it’s a culture change. If you want the change to stick, you have to give your team the right tools. Managers should to be trained how to coach and receive coaching from their supervisors. Employees should be trained in receiving coaching. Coaching as a management style requires buy-in by the whole organization, not only managers. — Brian Smith, S Brian Smith Group

6. Give actionable feedback

You don’t have to sugarcoat your feedback (I certainly don’t), but the make-or-break factor for its effectiveness is one’s ability to act on the criticism you dish out. For instance, saying that a marketing piece is “terrible” will accomplish nothing besides hurt feelings, while saying it’s “too vague” will lead to an actionable improvement for both the project and your team member. — Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital

7. Instill a team mentality

We love the philosophy that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is once it happens, so blaming anyone is a waste of time. I try to instill in our managers that they only look good when their teams are performing incredibly well. So if someone on on their team messes up, instead of the shifting blame, the manager should discuss how they are going to help the individual so it doesn’t happen again. — Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.

8. Encourage transparency and automation

At the heart of our agency is a dashboard that shows current progress on everything from work completed, results achieved, and quantified communications. Every metric is rated red/yellow/green. I’ve found that when quality control becomes automated and transparent, nothing is ambiguous, emotions are removed, and there’s no need for anyone to pass around blame. — Corey Northcutt, Northcutt Inbound Marketing

9. Practice improvement over perfection

I always advise managers to ask questions rather than make statements. Inspire through inquiry by asking employees if it’s their best work. What could they have done better or differently? Strive to create a culture that values the practice of improvement over an expectation of perfection. Show them what others have done or what they’ve done better before and avoid making them feel defeated. — Stephen Gill, Tiller

10. Hold yourself accountable

Lead by example. Managers will only learn to be accountable for themselves if you set the precedent and create a culture of accountability. If you spend the majority of your time pointing fingers and shirking responsibility yourself, managers can only emulate that attitude — and will do so quickly and unapologetically, as it is in our nature to protect ourselves. — Blair Thomas, First American Merchant