A Tradition Lacking In Relationship
Traditionally, managers focused on efficient operations and achieving targets. They gave little consideration for employees’ social, emotional, psychological and life-work balance needs. Employees were given little voice as to how their work would be done. Managers avoided developing relationships beyond what was required to deliver assigned tasks. This was all a part of that top down structure, where managers were expected to already have all the answers. (See “Leaving the Top-Down Model Behind”)
However, due to the changes and challenges in today’s workplace, supervisors can no longer function solely in the role of a traditional manager. In a competitive marketplace, teamwork is proving to be a key employee competency and core corporate characteristic.
The problem is, how do we translate principles of effective teamwork into the context of an employee-supervisor relationship?
Competitive Edge: Teamwork
One way to provide a context for effective teamwork is to turn leaders into coaches. A leader may be focused on unit or personal goals only whereas the coach is other-oriented. A coach is focused on helping others to achieve results that are important to them and the group/team. It entails listening actively, asking powerful questions, helping an individual to obtain new perspectives and options and supporting the individual to find her/his own solutions and answers and being there through the change implementation process. A leader can be a coach but not all leaders are coaches. A leader-coach is able to lead better a team made up of individuals with diverse needs and interests.
While more supportive, coaching still implies a top down relationship, where the manager is expected to have the answers.
Dr. Steve Stowell and the Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness stress that leaders need to go beyond just being a coach. Employees need to be able to contribute their perspectives and ideas into the relationship.
Consequently, for successful teamwork in today’s workplace, leaders need to not only coach, but also develop a partnership-like relationship with their employees. As Dr. Steve Stowell put it, “Leaders must learn how to convert employees into allies, not adversaries, without sacrificing standards of quality and productivity.” (Stowell and Starcevich, 2)* As allies, managers and employees can share a common cause to “accomplish the job in the best way possible”. This is a significant competitive edge.
Thoughts to Consider
• What is one way supervisors can turn employees into allies?
• How can your workplace support a culture of partnership-like relationships?
Improving the performance of your organization.
• Stowell, Steven, and Matt Starcevich. The Coach: Creating Partnerships for a Competitive Edge. 1987. Sandy City: The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness, 2014. Print.