ATD Blog

Why Managers Need to Be Career Coaches

Monday, November 3, 2014

If you’re a manager trying to improve the engagement and development of your employees, career coaching is one of the best ways to make a lasting difference—not only for the employee and their career development, but for the positive business value delivered to your organization as well.

Research conducted by Bersin by Deloitte revealed that organizations where senior leaders “very frequently” coach had 21 percent higher business results. Further, organizations with “excellent” cultural support had 13 percent stronger business results and 39 percent stronger employee results.

The days are largely gone where organizations managed through an order-giving style in which an employee’s performance was based on how well tasks were performed. Instead, companies now are focused on how employees and departments can align competencies with the organization’s overall business objectives. With that alignment comes an important shift in how companies involve their employees in this process and what it will take to help keep them motivated to meet these objectives.

One key part of that equation is the employee’s career plan and how it’s being developed internally. When managers engage and empower employees to actively participate in their career path, not surprisingly, employees have a far more positive attitude about the company and their role in it. And in order for managers to understand and effectively drive that process, they need to become proficient in career coaching.

Why is career coaching so important for managers and their organizations? There are four key reasons why it should be a part of every manager’s skill set.

1. Engagement, not directives


The old approach is to tell employees what they should be doing and how they can improve doing it. When employees are brought into the process to help define the best way to approach a particular issue or opportunity, an amazing thing happens. The employee feels empowered to be a part of the solution and as a result, is more engaged with the manager, and with their role in the company. With a shared process, employees are proactively involved and have a better appreciation of their role in the process. 

2. It’s about the employee

If managers focus on the employee and their career, it helps the employee realize that the manager and the company are invested in their development. By concentrating on the individual, and not the role the individual occupies, managers can help employees get a more complete picture of what options they have, where there are areas of improvement and what potential career paths might look like. Coaching makes it a learning experience, not an exercise in corrective action.


3. A framework of responsibility

Coaching gives managers the ability to create a goal-oriented framework for the employee that keeps them focused on their key responsibilities and the desired outcomes. A framework provides a level of accountability for the employee and it also allows the manager to tie organizational goals to the employee’s role. By doing this, it creates a standard where performance is not only measured at the individual level but with the business as well.

4. Conversations when needed

Unlike infrequent performance evaluations, career coaches talk with employees (and vice-versa) on an ad hoc basis or when a conversation is really needed. By establishing an open, two-way dialog, several things happen: 

  • the employee knows they can gain insights into their performance when it’s most important
  • managers have a continual pulse on the goals of the individual and the company
  • issues are addressed and resolved early on in the process
  • employees are better motivated in their role and less likely to be looking elsewhere.

Isn’t it time for you step up and become a career coach? The benefits are significant. Employees will become more engaged in their career. Your organization will benefit from an alignment of objectives. And you will add people development to your list of talents.

About the Author

Linda Ginac is the CEO and president of TalentGuard, a talent management software solutions company based on a unique, competency-based framework—Career Core Competencies (C3)—that focuses on the vital areas of talent management such as career pathing and succession. Prior to TalentGuard, she founded a successful career development franchise, The Ginac Group, serving clients across the United States and Canada.

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