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Avoid Managing Engineers and Start Coaching Them

Coaching is no longer considered effective in leadership—it has grown to become a staple to almost every organization that is headed to the path of success.

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Seek opportunities to show you care. Engineers are tired of you managing them—learn the art of coaching.

The engineering world is a stressful place to be in. More often than not, engineers lose their drive whenever they come across failures or difficulties in life. That is why, the smallest gestures often make the biggest difference inside the workplace.

Coaching is no longer considered a foreign tool in effective leadership—it has grown to become a staple to almost every organization that is headed to the path of success. In fact, it reflects to even more evidences of employee development and retention over the past years.

But how come our engineering leaders forget to leverage on this skill if it has proven itself to be a worthy ally in terms of human resource investment?

Sometimes, our engineers are too cooped up with the end goal in mind. The need to provide solutions to immediate company needs while keeping the team intact through constant management have created an image that operational imperatives and talent development are two separate tasks while in fact, both should be working together.

So, in order to build innovative coaching habits and strategies internally, here are some tips for engineering leaders to consider.

1. Say goodbye to coaching one-on-ones

A common misconception in coaching is the thought that everything should be done one-on-one. And when working in a very busy work environment, the fear of losing precious time dedicated to accomplishing pre-scheduled tasks can become a hindrance. So, forget about spending enormous time with each of your engineers and conduct coaching initiatives that will engage the team without compromising the operations timeline.

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2. Take time to list things down

Whenever in doubt or facing a bottleneck at hand, it is always good to stop and perform a self-assessment activity to realign. Through journal-based coaching, team members are prompted to list down successes, challenges as well as questions they need answers to. With this, lesser time is allotted while the engineering leader can take time to reflect and find better ways to motivate his members.

3. Hold-on to nonverbal coaching

Not everything needs to be said, sometimes more appreciation is revered without the need to speak. Try sending letters of praises. A simple “job well done” written in a sticky note can meet a lot after a long day haul. It would take two to four minutes of your time, (less than what you need to solve a simple math equation) but it will give an impression that the firm promotes a positive and supportive environment for its engineering employees.

4. Send them in to your office

Nothing can be more frightening than being called up to go to your boss’ office. It is the stigma which is also present in any engineering firm that keeps the employees on their toes whenever summoned. But, imagine if you are to call out a team member and give him a 30-second worth of praise instead of scolding. It will set an extremely different culture within the firm that will sprout a friendlier connection between you as a leader and a coach to your subordinates.

5. Recreate the coach in you

Let’s admit it. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try we cannot always balance everything up. That’s why we need a back-up. Train someone to be a junior coach to fill in with the coaching efforts you can no longer do. It can serve as a great succession tool to build internal leadership and retain top talent.

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With all those five tips, there ain’t no reason anymore to miss coaching a team’s coaching habit. Keep in mind that an engineering team is only as good as its members and no success is driven out of demotivated members.


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Patricia Ann


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