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Bench the Player/Coach

Pete RoseHas anyone else out there given up on the idea that Managers have to be good developers of people?  I’m close…real close.  I’m not saying they can’t be or they shouldn’t be.  I am just saying that if they aren’t, they should get the hell out-of-the-way.  I know there are some companies out there that do a really good job of holding their managers accountable to this aspect of their role – providing them with the appropriate training, measures, incentives and accountability tools.  If you work for one of those companies, you’re lucky.  The majority of us, however, are more familiar with those organizations that will always let the manager’s contribution to the bottom line (as measured by traditional financial results) shadow any ineffectiveness in promoting and developing their people.  Ya know what, I’m OK with that.  But admit it and stop trying to pay lip service – and throw resources out the window – to the idea that the management team is good at and responsible for the advancement of staff.  Being a good developer, a good coach, isn’t something you just flip a switch on like “ok you’re a manager now, get at it…your employees are waiting.”   You may ask any ole’ father to coach the third grade soccer team, but you wouldn’t let him get close to the coaching staff of a World Cup team.  And Pete Rose was marginal as a player/coach…remember that?  Isn’t this the workplace equivalent?  Let’s face it, most of the time managers learn how to develop people directly from their managers and most of the time those managers suck at development too.  Here’s the cold hard reality: even if managers are good at development, even if they want to be more active in and deliberate with their employees’ advancement, there will always be something else which will occupy the number one spot on a long list of priorities…always!  And who suffers?  The employee…always!

So why not hire a couple of full-time coaches who can keep it as the number one spot on a short list of priorities?  People who are educated, trained, experienced, and proven to be effective in getting people to identify key areas for development, helping them focus on those areas, and then holding them accountable to them.  Have them work closely with the manager in gaining perspective and insight to the employee’s needs, but then let them get back to what they are good at (or to whatever the squeaky wheel is).  Two full-time coaches could provide up to 4 hours of dedicated coaching time annually for each employee in a 1,000 person organization.  Imagine what you could do with that.  And we’re not talking about a huge investment; plus any investment will be offset by the heightened productivity of your managers who no longer need to worry about filling out evaluation forms, etc.  And these coaches won’t just be “going through the motions.”  They’ll be making measurable and meaningful impact to the employees’ preparedness, productivity, potential, and advancement.  They can help cull the low performers and keep the HiPos.  They can help manage risk, plan for succession, and on and on and on…

Does anyone out there do something like this with success?  If so, how?  If not, why?

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  1. October 27, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I have a policy where I don’t pretend to care about sports or sports/HR posts. That being said, I will tell you that I always see Pete Rose when I’m in Vegas.

    Do I get credit for commenting on this post? 🙂

  2. October 27, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    So far you’re the only one commenting on it…I’ll take what I can get, even if it’s your snarkiness

  3. Meg Bear
    October 30, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    You know I have never heard of anyone doing this but I personally really like the idea. It gives a happy middle ground to the options of a) give up or b) lose an effective business leader b/c s/he is not a good people leader. I can see why this would be unpopular with most though. I will keep my ears open to see if i hear of anyone doing this. I know at the very senior ranks this has been going on for years with “executive coaches” but it’s often kept quiet.

  4. October 31, 2009 at 8:53 am

    would love to hear about what you come across…if anything. it’s interesting that it’s a no brainer to use a professional coach for execs, but no one thinks fo doing the same for others. i know that it can be cost prohibitive, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander…i just think brining this capability in house might help solve the economics issue…thx!

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