How Friendly Should a Manager Be With Employees?
Can a Manager and Employees Develop Too Much of a Rapport?
A large part of successful business coaching is the development of a rapport by managers with employees to facilitate constructive dialogue, as mentioned in other articles such as the importance of having an open door policy and being seen regularly by employees by stepping out of their office and walking around the workplace.
This rapport building means that in many cases friendships will begin to develop between managers and employees, and sometimes even more than friendship if they were to become romantically involved. But is this closeness and friendliness a good thing or a bad thing when it comes to business coaching?
It is an extremely difficult question to answer, and probably one which has no definitive right or wrong answer, which makes it especially tricky for those first line managers who are new to management. Whilst the openness that comes with the friendship will normally allow the employee to feel more relaxed and able to discuss their feelings and concerns with the manager, it may also place them in a difficult position if the problems they have in fulfilling their potential at work are with the manager themselves, as they may not feel that they are able to say what they really feel as it may ruin the friendship. Similarly the manager may be placed in an awkward position if they feel that they cannot act objectively and impartially. They may be torn between either having to risk ruining the relationship with their friend, or being seen to be giving them special treatment in the eyes of other workers which can cause serious disruption and de-motivation amongst them.
Lunch and Business Coaching
Business Coaching Sessions Can Be Informal
A lunch break can provide a perfect opportunity for a manager to engage in business coaching with one of their employees. It is best performed on a one-to-one basis to enable the easy two-way interaction and discussion needed, as having a small or even a large group on a lunch meeting can end up turning into a loud party where only the loudest can be heard over the many competing voices and friendship groups only sit and talk to each other.
Having lunch together presents a less formal and less imposing atmosphere for the coaching session to take place than it would in, say, a small room in the office. This can help facilitate the 'opening-up' and breaking down barriers which can prevent the employee from talking about the issues which are preventing them from maximising their full potential in the workplace.
Remember That Lunchtime is a Break!
It is important that it is not just work-related matters which are discussed during lunch, otherwise employees will feel like this is something which is taking up their break away from the workplace and should really be being performed during working hours! They may resent the manager talking about work the entire time on what should be their leisure time.
Remember to Treat All Employees Similarly
It is also important that different members of the team are included in these lunchtime coaching sessions/get togethers so that they do not feel excluded and that the manager favours certain other employees over them. Whilst used best as an intermittent strategy, lunch should also not be used solely when there is a problem or bad news to discuss with an employee, otherwise workers will dread the sessions or start circulating rumours whenever a lunch coaching session is scheduled between the manager and one of them.
A large part of successful business coaching revolves around rapport building and so lunch sessions, particularly over time, can help to develop the relationship between manager and worker, providing both a platform and an environment for ideas to be generated, issues to be resolved and action plans to be devised and put into motion.
How is Business Coaching a Good Way to Keep in Touch with Employees?
Many Employees Can Be Afraid of Approaching Managers
In many businesses, no matter where they are located in the world or which industry they are engaged in, there will often be a disconnect between management and the employees. Managers will all too often be seen as a group of people who cannot be approached unless it is an absolutely necessary, work process-related issue.
A Manager Needs to Communicate with Workers
This sort of structure and perception can be extremely damaging when it comes to keeping abreast of what workers are feeling, how motivated they are, what their specific strengths and weaknesses are, what their ambitions for future development are, what issues are present down on the shop floor which may be limiting productivity and efficiency, along with many more examples.
Not only this, but this lack of communication also means that whenever employees have minor issues and wishes such as slight changes to their working hours or type/location of work which could easily be resolved through dialogue, they may simply seek alternative employment if they feel they cannot or do not have the opportunity to discuss their requirements with a manager. This can result in a company losing valuable employees when they could easily have had their needs accommodated if managers had been more approachable.
Regular Business Coaching Provides a Fantastic Opportunity for Dialogue
Business coaching is a tremendous method for managers to keep in touch with employees. As it is most often performed on a one-to-one basis it means the manager and the employee can have a dedicated and uninterrupted discussion.
Managers are often extremely busy people, but it is important for them to make time to engage in business coaching with their employees in order to create these opportunities for communication and the resolution of issues. If they hold a business coaching qualification such as the ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring they will be able to provide highly effective coaching sessions for their employees.
How Giving Frequent Advice Can Be Bad
In business coaching and mentoring the giving of advice can often be highly beneficial to an employee as they continue their quest of self-development and improvement in their workplace capacity. But whilst it is usually beneficial - unless it is bad advice of course! - too much of it, particularly when given at the wrong time, can prove to be detrimental to an employee.
Too Much Advice Can Lead to Dependency on the Manager...
This can be for a number of reasons, but typically it is because workers settle into a state of dependency on the manager as the advice is often the manager telling a worker that this is how it should be done. Even if they are merely giving their opinion by saying that this is the way in which they would do it, an employee will take this as the way that it should be done as they will want to stay in the managers good books so doing things the way in which they would do it is likely to please them.
... As Well as Causing Annoyance and Indignation
Aside from creating a culture of dependency on the manager, the constant giving of advice, comments, stories about past successes etc may in fact begin to grate and annoy staff after a while. Although some may feel comfortable in having a manager make every little decision and seek approval before they do anything, there will be many other employees who do like to feel empowered and will greatly resent the manager stifling their creativity. They may also feel like they are being criticised if the manager constantly tells them how they would do something if it is different to how the employee is doing it. This can lead to a drop in morale and motivation, and may even culminate with the employee seeking alternative employment if they reach a point where they can no longer tolerate it anymore.