Don’t Confuse the Role of Your Manager as Mentor and Coach


It’s true that employees often leave jobs because of bad managers. They also voluntarily exit a company for other reasons, such as dislike of a company’s mission or products/services, cultural fit, and better opportunities overall, but more often than not employees jump ship because of poor managers.

What makes a good manager? The truth is it varies from person to person, but most want a leader who will respect them and their ideas; give them the resources they need to do their jobs; and provide a collaborative, innovative environment for growth. A manger who will inspire, motivate and create team camaraderie is also highly valued, and employees also desire a manger who is a mentor and coach.

The roles of mentor and coach can be confusing, though, leading employees to set unrealistic expectations for what a manager should deliver as teacher and guide. Mentoring and coaching are not handholding in the sense that a manager should instruct employees like a classroom professor and teach new skills. If you don’t know how to create a spreadsheet, communicate clearly or understand technology solutions, for instance, your manager is not responsible for showing you how.

Instead, a good mentoring manager points out areas for growth and advises an employee on how to obtain the necessary knowledge or expertise in order to excel. A rock star leader will strive to create more rock stars by pointing them in the right direction. However, the learning and development are up to the employees who take it upon themselves to improve. If an employee can’t take the initiative to bring more and better skills to the table, he/she is not on track for rock star status – even with the best of managers.

Many companies pay for education or provide learning solutions and opportunities for employees. There are also low-cost online solutions like Udemy, and even YouTube hosts tutorials on almost everything. Don’t wait for your manager to set development goals for you. Set your own; start learning and wow your manager with your new-found knowledge.

Good mentors and coaches lead by example so that employees want to emulate them. They are constantly improving themselves and readily admit their own shortcomings, making it easier for their employees to acknowledge and address their own. As good coaches they also encourage their reports, recognize their achievements and cheer them on during their career journey.



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