Friday, January 4, 2013

Coaching and Mentoring: The Keys to Being a Successful Leader

 If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. John Quincy Adams
Coaching and mentoring are by far the most effective ways to build a team and become a successful leader. They create a strong connection between supervisor and employees by building trust and loyalty, simply because employees feel that they are being valued and appreciated by their supervisor and/or organization.

When an employee is working under the type of leadership that invests in their career advancement —a leadership that not only sets goals and objectives, but also gives clear directions and access to the resources they need to attain top performance— they become a highly motivated employee, and highly motivated employees are usually the most productive ones.

More Commitment and Higher Employee Retention

When employees are experiencing growth and advancement in their careers, it's extremely difficult for them to leave. Realizing that their supervisor cares, the feeling of gratitude for the newly learned skills, and the perception of being part of the team are all powerful elements that strengthen their commitment and increase the accountability on any given task.

Reducing Cost of Freelancers

It also helps you to bring everyone to the next level of skills, which in return will improve the quality of performance delivered by your team. In a very challenging job market, where good talent is scarce and expensive, you're better off investing time and resources in helping your staff to realize their full potential, rather than hiring an expensive freelancer. Just imagine the immensely positive impact in your ROI if you're able to reduce or completely cutoff the spending on freelancers.

In a work environment that's constantly changing due to technology and/or economy, quickly adapting to new situations is a must. If you are a manager these days, you're probably facing more work to do with less people to work with; or maybe you've been asked to stop spending on freelancers for the next two months, even though your workflow will not lessen during that period. This is the time when you look at your staff and wish you had two or three copies of your best performer; it's also the time for a reality check, and to start thinking about how easy it would be if your under-performers could develop to their fullest potential.

The Infamous Indispensable Man

Have you ever heard a business owner or an employee gloating about every time they go on vacation, their shop or office descends into anarchy and chaos? You can actually see how important and proud they feel when they're talking about this. Their ego is so inflated they're oblivious to the fact that there's nothing to be proud of. Nobody, absolutely no one, should be indispensable! And when we let this happen, it just means we've failed as managers.

There's a tendency with some insecure individuals, out of the fear of losing their jobs, to "mark territory" and keep a tight grip on certain important tasks that may require specialized training. This is a very common and harmful practice in the workplace and the way to avoid it is simple. As a manager or business owner you need to ensure your coaching and training programs are followed thoroughly as part of the process, never allowing individuals to come up with their very own "personalized system," i.e., user names and passwords to access vendors and client sites, when needed, must be available to anyone in the office.

In an advertising studio, we have individuals with different sets of skills and degrees of expertise. It would be almost impossible to have a studio full of know-it-all, Jack-of-all-trades studio artists, but what you can do is to motivate and coach the team so they can strengthen their weakest skills by supporting them with the proper training. So when your best production artist is out, your designer can handle the task of producing a mechanical.

Leadership is about giving and sharing knowledge, which is the most precious asset anyone can possess, with the only difference that whoever gives knowledge is not losing a bit of it, and this is a beautiful thing. An organization with a structured coaching and mentoring programs would not suffer much if one of the key employees decides to go on a long vacation or leave the company, and periods of transition, i.e., promotion or succession, will go really smoothly.