Imagine a group of five prominent people in your career field sitting around a desk on national television pontificating on your managerial decisions and behavior. Terry Bradshaw says that “you cannot make a decision to save your life.” Did you see how she flipped and flopped about X?” Jimmy Johnson chimes in, “if I had a manager with that kind of ability or lack thereof, I would fire him/her immediately. There’s no room in the workplace for gutless managers.” Howie Long and Michael Strahan flash their Super Bowl rings (or“Movers & Shakers Award, Manager of the Year Award, etc.) and go on and on about how they couldn’t play (or work) for such a coach (manager).
Seems a bit far-fetched? But, is it really? With social media and technology, there may already be a group of your direct reports having similar virtual conversations about you. It may be wise to act accordingly. Determine how that conversation will go. Craft your image. Of course, part of being a manager is being able to take the heat, because someone will likely always be unhappy, but you can still shape the conversation and come across as someone who is worthy of that managerial position.
1. Seek out patterns in your paper trail – review past evaluations, recommendation letters to see if you notice a pattern.
2. Examine your online presence – Google yourself and see what comes up first. Select “images” to see that as well. I did this and noticed that recent photos on my Facebook page and photos that I “Liked” came up.
3. Conduct your own “360 interviews.” Ask for honest feedback from your colleagues, boss, and employees. Ask how they would describe you? What are your weaknesses? What area needs growth? I did this once and while scary, was very revealing.
4. Hold you own focus group. Have someone else moderate the session with your friends and colleagues.You are only an observer while participants discuss your strengths and weaknesses.
How to Coach Effectively
Metz (2011, 22-26) details several ways to be an effective coach.
(1) Attend to the player by paying attention to what is said and unsaid. A coach should meet regularly with a player to do this. This gives the player an opportunity to give feedback that may be verbal or nonverbal. The coach takes this in and let it prompt his coaching strategy.
(2) Find a delicate balance between keeping professional distance and establishing rapport with the player/report.
(3) Trust. A coach must have self-trust as well as trust in the player. Trust your coaching decisions and trust the player to carry out those decisions.
(4) To make sure your player can carry out your coaching decisions, you must be sure that the player has the necessary resources to accomplish this. In this regard, the coach may have to be an advocate for the player with upper management in getting those resources.
And finally, (5) the coach exhibits self-appraisal; forever learning how to become a better coach. Constantly working on your coaching skills will help improve your performance.
After you have successfully reinvented your personal brand and become a better coach, the next time Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson meet to discuss your performance, they’ll both agree that you’re at the top of your game. They’ll notice that you’re always clear on the game plan, bring out the best in employees, and do not have a problem making tough decisions. Howie Long and Michael Strahan will flash their Super Bowls rings again and say that they would have loved to play on your team to get more rings.
Clark, Dorie. You’re Probably Wrong About How Others Really See You. HBR Blog Network, April 5, 2013.
Metz, Ruth F. 2011.Coaching in the library: a management strategy for achieving excellence. Chicago : American Library Association.