How Managers Can Become Effective Coaches

By: Sparkus

No matter the industry or business, the working environment is rapidly changing in every aspect, leaving the traditional approaches behind. Profit-driven and product-first approaches are evolving into consumer-driven businesses and now, organisations are shifting to creating a company culture for overall organisational success. According to Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees consider a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. That’s why whether it’s about improving an organisation’s production/sales process, technical infrastructure or employee management in order to stay relevant in the modern business environment, institutions need “cultural change” while adopting digital transformation.

Developing a strong organisational culture starts with building a coaching culture. This relies on leadership transformation, where leaders shift from a “commanding” to a “coaching” mindset. Being a coach-like manager is a journey that needs to be adapted systematically and gradually in order to gain an overall successful coaching culture. Let’s look at what this journey takes, the benefits of coaching, and how managers can become effective coaches.

Do You Really Know What Coach-Like Management Requires? Think Again!

Before counting the benefits of being a manager as a coach, let’s state a very important fact: most managers are not aware of the real meaning of coaching and consider themselves a coach-like-manager. In fact, according to a Harvard Business Review study, most managers believe they’re coaching when they’re actually just telling their employees what to do. The same study states that managers often demonstrate a form of consulting, provide their employees with advice or a direct solution and assume this micromanaging approach is a legitimate coaching practice.

On the contrary, coach-like-managers need to have core coaching skills (one of the essential qualities of a Digital Leader), in addition to being ethical, transparent and team-oriented. However, this doesn’t end with having the right skillset. Managers also need to have a coaching mindset, where they believe in the potential of their employees and trust them to find their own solutions. Without the coaching mindset, even if the managers gain the skill of being a good listener, they will continue to give instructions.

The days of command and control leadership are over. Now it’s time for organisations and managers to understand what coaching is and why it is important.

Why Is It Essential to Have Coach-Like Managers?

As mentioned before, coach-like managers are the foundation of a sustainable coaching culture in an organisation. It is not realistic for today’s managers to have comprehensive knowledge of all the technical and business skills of all their employees. This means the only effective way to improve their team’s performance is to support their team members’ already existing know-how into genuine contribution through active listening, powerful questioning and action planning. Moreover, in an ever-changing world where all employees need to constantly upskill themselves, managers can support the individual development of their team members on a one-on-one basis.

When leaders who are equipped with coaching skills conduct periodic coaching sessions, they analyse the strengths and weaknesses of team members in a much deeper way and act on areas needing development. This helps them to delegate tasks that align with their employees’ evolving skill sets, interests, and career goals. An ecosystem of learning, sharing knowledge, constant feedback and personal/career development will make employees feel valued, and in return, it will result in high performance and engagement.

Coach-like managers are not only the accelerators for career development, but they also leverage the development of larger units within an organisation. By empowering employees to take ownership and solve problems under guidance, coach-like managers facilitate high-performing teams contributing to a shared vision which increases organisational productivity. As a matter of fact, a study by the Human Capital Institute and the International Coach Federation states that organisations with strong coaching cultures report revenue growth well above their industry peer group (51% compared with 38%) and considerably higher employee engagement (62% compared with 50%). Another report by Deloitte Bersin and Associates claims that organisations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coach.

Transforming Managers into Coaches

The common opinion about coaching and leadership development programs is that they are ineffective and unsustainable. The main reason for this is that traditional courses cover abstract and theoretical training in a limited amount of time, with little practice. These short programs create only short-term awareness. Therefore, they are not internalised by leaders, and without customisation and implementation in the organisation, resistance occurs within the workforce.

So, What Is the Sustainable Solution?

The transition to being an “effective coach” will not happen in one day, like turning on a switch. In order to build a sustainable coaching culture within an organisation, managers will have to invest in learning and practice coaching in the first place. There are five key points to consider to transform managers into coaches:

  1. The transition needs to be done systematically: First, the organisation (typically, HR professionals) will have to create a coaching strategy in line with their objectives, values, vision, and business strategy. At this point, they need to collaborate with the other leaders to support coaching and align their engagement for further organisational culture change. As the next step, they need to provide the managers with a framework which basically sets a general direction and provides a roadmap for further coaching conversations. After that, coaching can be moved from individual coaching sessions to organisational learning for a cultural change.
  2. People being coached should gain “coaching literacy”: If employees do not have the basic notions about coaching, they also become suspicious about the process and resist giving genuine answers to the coaching questions of their managers. Therefore, it is crucial not only for managers to learn about coaching, but also for the employees being coached to gain a certain “coaching literacy” through either training or digital coaching applications.
  3. Coaching has to be an ongoing process: Companies also need to be aware that coaching needs to be inserted into the daily routine. It will require practice where managers are supported. Gradually and systematically building a coaching culture relies on coaching being a part of everyday relationships, where evaluation and feedback are embedded at each step of the coaching culture journey.
  4. Role Switching is Necessary: Although coaching or mentoring is considered the manager’s role, they should also receive coaching themselves as well as guidance through supervision. Learning just as managers themselves are being coached in order to experience what it’s like to be coached is extremely beneficial.
  5. Coaching needs to be at scale: In order to achieve an organisational culture change, coaching needs to eventually move from one-on-one coaching of top-level executives to all levels of the organisation.


Coaching skills are becoming a significant part of a digital leader’s toolkit. Through sustained coaching conversations, coach-like managers can have a big impact on developing awareness and trust, and create a learning environment with high engagement. They need the ongoing support of senior executives and, in particular, HR executives which are critical stakeholders in building a coaching culture. Moreover, managers need training not only for developing coaching skills but also on how to use coaching in their roles. For this to happen, they need professional tools and programs to support them on their journey to develop a coaching culture.

Meet SparkUs “Manager-as-a-Coach Program”

That’s what our “Manager-as-a-Coach Program” is designed to do. We train leaders in the fundamentals of coaching as well as providing practical experience on ‘when and how’ to coach. Our ‘Manager as a Coach’ program provides training and supervision via the SparkUs platform and our skilled team of coaches.

Peer Coaching: We provide exceptional training, including hands-on peer coaching and supervision. Our customised content helps leaders to see the big picture and understand how they can practically implement their training in the workplace.

Sustainable Coaching: Our platform supports leaders with pre-generated, themed coaching content for their employees to serve as a basis for their coaching dialogue.

High Employee Engagement: Employees access our platform ahead of their coaching sessions with their managers, which ensures they gain a basic “coaching literacy” and are ready to address issues and take action. As a result, regular coaching by their managers leads to higher employee engagement and performance.

And as your solution partner, we clearly outline the coaching strategy in line with your organisational goals, provide ongoing support, and help you to develop a coaching culture ensuring the ROI in coaching.

Transform Your Managers into Coaches with SparkUs

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