Do You Have Time to Manage?

A good performance management system has three components; Performance Planning—where goals are set; Day-to-Day Coaching—where managers provide direction and support as needed; and Performance Evaluation—which most of us know as the “annual review.”

Of these three components, which one do you think is short-changed the most in organizations?  It’s day-to-day coaching. 

I asked Linda Miller, Global Liaison for Coaching at The Ken Blanchard Companies about this as part of an interview on coaching skills for managers.  My question for Linda was, “Given the benefits that day-to-day coaching can bring to performance, why don’t more managers use coach-like behaviors?”

Linda shared that the reason she heard most often from managers was lack of time and competing priorities.

That’s the rub for most working managers.  How do you build in time to help others, while still making sure you get your own tasks done? And how does it fit in with your other priorities?  I know in my own case, if I do not have something listed as a key responsibility area (KRA), it becomes something that I get to only if I have extra time.

What’s your experience with this? As a manager, is providing direction and support to others on your list of key responsibilities?  Should it be?  I’m looking into that now—is it a good idea?

11 thoughts on “Do You Have Time to Manage?

  1. Sounds like the real issue here is lack of time to lead, not manage. It’s leadership that drives performance “management.” Coaching is inherently about leading, e.i., focusing on people and their needs in order to influence their behavior to drive results. The larger question here is not whether managers have the time for day-to-day coaching, but rather whether we have: 1) selected the right individuals (and right personalities) into management/leadership positions, and 2) whether we have provided managers/leaders with the tools, approaches and mindset required to be strong leaders. If either of these criteria are missing or lacking, the results are exactly what Linda Miller described, and often these discrepancies speak to dysfunctions in the overall organizational culture and leadership climate.

    Thanks for posting such a thought-provoking entry! Important stuff here!

    • Hi Trevor,
      Thanks for the insightful comment. I wanted to follow-up on where you wrote about selecting “the right individuals (and right personalities) into management/leadership positions.” I’ve been looking into this as a research project lately–especially regarding what are the leader traits that drive higher levels of engagement among followers. For example, how does a serving versus self-serving attitude impact engagement levels among followers? Have you seen any research like this that has especially caught your eye?

  2. David,

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. I think that the best leaders/managers view the day-to-day coaching as a necessary investment of their time in the short time to get better results in the long term. I agree with everything Trevor said previously as well in that if the right leaders are in place they will understand the inherent responsiblities of the position. I’ve seen many organizations that promote their best “salespeople” to leadership positions without recognizing that the very skills/personality traits that made them successful in sales are often contradictory to what makes a great leader. Leaders are their to serve the needs of others, top salespeople often are successful because they are focused solely on their own.

    • Hi Michael,
      I just read your comment and realized that I had touched on a similar concept as yours in my response to Trevor above. It’s where you write that “Leaders are their to serve the needs of others, top salespeople often are successful because they are focused solely on their own.” I think that is an important distinction that will determine how successful that someone is in helping others to perform at their best. There are a lot of other traits that go into being a good leader of course, but I think that a focus on serving others is a key one. Thanks for your comment.

  3. David,
    What you are addressing here is extremely important. A good management team should have all three of these components and practice them all the time! Day-to-day coaching should be a priority, no question. The fact that managers don’t feel that this is necessary shows how poor management is right now.
    For all you managers out there – this doesn’t have to be a hard task!! Coaching doesn’t need to take more than 15 minutes out of your day. Check out Rypple as a tool to help you become a better manager and give your team the feedback they need!

    • Hi Alana,
      I just checked out Rypple and it looks interesting. I especially liked the capability to “Share inspiring feedback. It’s like Facebook for feedback. Recognize good work when it happens by posting quick kudos that everyone on your team can see and comment on.” I’m a big believer in providing positive feedback on the spot. It sounds like Rypple could help. I’m going to check it out a little more tomorrow.

  4. I find this to be a problem everyday – when as a manager you aren’t given enough staff to function effectively everyday – when I as a manager has to pickup the slack. I don’t have time to do what I am responsible to do. When is there time to coach. I would love to make my team better everyday. It easy to say “do we have the right people in management”. There are allot of factoring coming into play.

  5. Hi Brian
    You bring up a great point about manager’s having so much on their plates these days and also about all of the other factors that come into play. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Good discussion, and it raises some questions for me.

    A starting point may be to surface some of the assumptions at play here. For example, what do we mean by ‘coaching’, and to what extent are managers equipped, in terms of their own emotional and relational intelligence, to effectively ‘coach’ their staff? At a more fundamental level, I have a concern that when managers are asked to coach staff, there can be a distinct blurring at best, or dishonesty at worst, around whose needs are actually being met in the coaching relationship e.g. is the objective to get the member of staff to perform better to meet the expectations of the manager/company/shareholders, is it about learning, personal development etc?

    To bring it back to the original question above, and Linda’s finding that “the reason she heard most often from managers was lack of time and competing priorities”, I wonder if there isn’t an unspoken factor there, namely that many managers simply do not feel equipped to coach. Maybe the problem here is terminology, and what is needed is not so much day-today coaching, rather ring-fenced time so that manager and staff can engage in effective dialogue.


    • Hi Steve,
      Great points. I think you’re right that we need to carefully understand how the term “coaching” might be used by managers as opposed to coaches. (I think I blurred the line with my original post.) Your observation that coaches would make sure that the coachee’s needs are the top priority while manager’s may use coaching as a way to direct performance towards organizational goals is a good reminder of the difference.

      With this in mind, I think you’ve also hit on a good point that many managers may not feel that they have the skills to truly “coach” in the manner that experienced, full-time coaches would expect.

      Thanks for the thoughts–what do others think about this?


  7. Hi David,

    If one would consider Leadership from the “Servant Leader” prospective, then coaching becomes the heart of “Servant Leadership”, because devoting the time to help others develop & improve is a true interpretation of being a “servant leader”.

    Coaching employees with the purpose of directing their performance to best serve the organizations’ goals only, is not necessarily putting the employees’ best interests in consideration, thus not serving others.

    Coaching should have employees’ best interests and development as the goal with the ultimate purpose of improving organization’s performance. For that to take place on day to day bases, coaches need to have that as one of their own performance management criteria, that their performance is measured against it. That way, they will ensure building day to day coaching activities to achieve their goals.

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