In a given day there are no shortage of coaching moments. If you manage even 1 person, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Every decision we make can be evaluated, reviewed and improved upon. In interviews, I’m often asked about my management style/approach. For the last 10 years, my answer has been consistent:
- Inform: Provide your team member with all the information they need to make a good decision.
- Recommend: Outline how you would tackle the problem. This needs to be done as “guiding” not dictating.
- Empower: Despite your POV, empower them to make the decision. After all they have 2 critical pieces of the puzzle: 1, all the background info. 2, your point of view.
- Support: Unless the decision they make is so far off base, support their decision…especially in PUBLIC when it comes under scrutiny.
- Evaluate: Review the decision, how it was made, why they made, how it played out and how they’d improve on it in the future.
I don’t think there’s anything earth shattering there, but to consistently apply this maxim can be tough. There are days I certainly fail at it. The most critical part of this approach is #4. Your team needs to know you have their back…that you won’t hang them out to dry or throw them under a bus. Sometimes this can be challenging, especially when their decision is coming under fire in a public gathering. But, this is the test of a good manager.
Public criticism offends not only the receivers, but the observers. No one wants to see another person publicly hung by someone too cowardly to address the issue one to one, face to face.
Credit for that great quote goes here.
I feel like that’s one of those obvious…basic…101 rules…that you learn at an early age. Heck, I can remember the rule being taught to me in Little League. But, just because it’s a basic rule, like don’t swing on a 3-0 count unless you have the green light, doesn’t mean we always follow it. I’m guilty of breaking the rule on occasion. It’s so easy to do it when we’re all given a stage, a bullhorn and a distribution network to voice our opinions. Just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should.
Yesterday, I saw a classic case of poor coaching and the ego-centric world of blogging. Sarah Perez, an “influential” blogger/writer/editor/etc. received a pitch from Yahoo!’s agency asking her to review their new platform in exchange for some amount of reciprocal coverage and impact at Yahoo! This type of stuff happens all the time. If your someone who blogs you’ll eventually get pitched. From what I can tell from Sarah’s scathing post about the pitch, there were 3 problems with the pitch:
- It was generic and over promissory – as such it felt dated
- There was a typo – the agency wrote “Tech Crunch” as two words instead of one
- She doesn’t seem to care for Yahoo!
- TechCrunch says they are “…a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.” What does Sarah’s post have to do with news, startups, or internet products? As far as I can tell…nothing.
- Instead of actually covering the new Yahoo! News Activity feature she chose to take shots at the company/person pitching her. I’m all for calling people out. There’s definitely a reason to do it. But, what was gained here? If this was a coaching moment, what value was derived from publicly flogging this company? She had more than a few options here: 1, cover the story from a news angle. 2, elect not to cover it and not respond to the pitch. 3, elect not to cover it and let the company know why. I could go on and on.
When I was working at Fallon, a creative director explained to me that in this business, one minute you’re up, one minute you’re down…you may find yourself working for someone you’re managing right now. In short, treasure relationships, because while you may think you have the “power” now, you may find yourself looking up at the people you exerted the power on. Good advice. Seems like some of that could have been applied here.