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When Managers Support Engagement - Can Coaching Support the Managers?

Posted By ​ Emma Donaldson-Fielder and Rachel Lewis, 01 July 2017

With the recent publication of the results of the Great Place to Work 2014 study pinpointing yet again that line managers are fundamental to driving employee engagement, it feels as if not a week goes by without another article championing the benefit of employee engagement and the importance of managers for achieving it. But what does this mean for us as coaches and for the world of coaching?

Recent research, by my colleagues at Affinity Health at Work and I, has identified factors that are key for the success of management development programmes designed to instill behaviours that promote the health and sustainable engagement of those being managed. The great news for the coaching profession is that this research consistently points to the need for a range of approaches, including coaching, in order to facilitate the development of managers in the pursuit of sustainable engagement. 

Using available evidence from both academic research and practitioner expertise, we have created a model/checklist to support the design effective management development, facilitate application of management skills in the workplace and set the context for sustainable behaviour change. For the coaching profession, the research reveals some considerations and top tips to consider when coaching individuals who are participating in a management development programme:

  • Ensure participants have opportunities to practice and get feedback on their learning and their new management skills.
  • Embed learning using a range of activities, such as coaching and action learning sets, which enable management development programme participants to work on real issues and learn with and from each other.
  • Build individuals’ confidence and ensure that they feel that they can succeed.
  • Build self-awareness in managers and recognition of themselves as leaders: this can be achieved for instance through personality assessment and multi-rater feedback. The establishment of ‘leader identity’ is an important part of the process.
  • Consider the inclusion of After Event Reviews, in which individuals are facilitated to unpick and dissect every thought and decision that led to the outcome of a particular event in order to expose errors that caused problems and identify successes in themselves and colleagues that led to positive results.

If you are involved in the design or delivery of a management development programme aimed at improving engagement and wellbeing, Affinity Health at Work would love to hear from you. Our research, although rigorous in its approach, is in its infancy and we would really value your insight: please complete our online questionnaire at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/developingmanagers2015.


Emma Donaldson-Fielder and Rachel Lewis

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