ACHRNEWS

To Retain Talent, Get Managers Who Can Coach

March 14, 2002
BOCA RATON, FL — To prove his point that talent matters in today’s business world, Ron Magnus introduced a recent study from The McKenzie Group, which surveyed and interviewed over 6,000 executives from 77 Fortune 50 and 100 companies.

The report, “War For Talent,” concludes that “Talent matters more than the tangible assets such as financial capital.”

Quoting the study, Magnus said, “What we found should be a call to arms for corporate America. Companies are about to be engaged in a war for senior executive talent that will remain a defining characteristic of their competitive landscape for decades to come.”

Magnus also noted that the recruiting pool is shrinking. To combat the problem, the FMI director encouraged contractors at the recent MCAA conference to zero in on “Coaching to Develop Exceptional Leaders,” also the title of his session. “We aren’t doing a whole lot for the development of our managers or our leaders,” he said.

According to Magnus, “Opportunity for development is what young people want. This is what motivates them.”

The problem, he said, is that most managers today are not spending the time to develop talent. The smarter ones will not only get the talented employees, but keep them.

“Talented people want to be developed. Today, talent wants to be developed,” he reiterated.

In his estimation, the top managers of tomorrow will be the coaching type, ones who provide feedback and leadership. He defined coaching as “a collaborative relationship focused on equipping people to more fully develop themselves and to facilitate a shift in their knowledge and behavior.”

Magnus stressed that the coaching style of managing allows “a relationship to be developed between coach and coachee,” a foundation for the development of the coachee. Such a collaborative relationship is based on trust and mutual respect. He said coaches help individuals become better equipped to change and grow, and have the ability and desire to help individuals “develop faster, easier, and in a more meaningful and intentional manner.”

He said the key to the coaching style is the “shift in knowledge and behavior” part. “The goals for this shift need to be clear and mutually understood,” he said. “The result of coaching is some type of change.”

FEEDBACK, PLEASE

To get the crowd thinking, he asked attendees to get into small groups to answer the following two questions: Who is someone who has coached or mentored you, and what characteristics made him or her an effective coach? Some of the answers produced ranged from “They cared” to “They allowed me to try things.”

“What if we had a whole group of people like this?” he asked. “You wouldn’t mind working at such a place, would you?”

Coaching and leadership development is threefold, he said: intentional, purposeful, and personal. By intentional, he meant coaches promote intentionally by providing structure, process, accountability, and feedback. Coaches also keep the process purposeful by making sure it is linked to objectives and specific outcomes. He also said coaches keep the process specifically focused on the individual.

“How do leaders learn best?” he asked, then answered, “Through experience! It is the coach’s responsibility to help guide these experiences in order to optimize the coachee’s opportunity for development.”

He summed it up this way: “The coach unleashes the contribution of people by having them discover, develop, and use their potential.”

TIME FOR MENTORING

In the coaching approach to managing, Magnus sees two types of behaviors: directive and facilitative.

Directive means the leader/ manager defines roles and answers questions (what, when, where, and how), sets goals, organizes, sets time lines and schedules, directs, and controls. The facilitative manager/leader — which he preferred — engages in two-way communication: “listening, facilitating, and supporting.” In this approach, one is giving support, communication, facilitating interaction, listening, questioning, and providing feedback.

Magnus stressed the need for feedback in the entire equation.

“It’s critical to the coaching process,” he said, noting that feedback must be specific; state “why,” facilitate the generation of alternatives, and gain commitment. “You must provide balanced feedback. It has to be both positive and negative — or, constructive.”

Magnus said there are similarities between coaching and mentoring. Like coaches, mentors can help develop, empower, and inspire. They also share knowledge, experiences, and life. He said a mentor, more so than a coach, will focus on “developing our lives, not just our skills.”

In his estimation, to be an effective mentor, one must see the potential in a person, be patient and flexible, see long-term perspective in a person, and have the ability to build up and encourage. He said the goals for mentoring are transferring experiences, helping leaders mature, transferring visions and values, developing strategic thinking, strengthening character, and “providing deep, meaningful feedback.

“If you get serious about coaching and mentoring, it could be the single most important thing you do at work,” said Magnus. “You will develop exceptional leaders in your organization. You will build a ‘third-generation’ leadership culture.”

Publication date: 03/18/2002