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Is Anyone Coaching Your Managers?

Is Anyone Coaching Your Managers?

by Shannon Mullen O'Keefe

Story Highlights

  • Learn the top five challenges managers face
  • Even the best managers need coaching
  • Create an internal network of coaches for managers

When managers aren't developing the strengths of their teams, it's easy to assume the cause is a lack of drive or dedication to the company's cultural goals (or even the absence of managerial talent).

But struggling managers might simply be failing to cope with the top challenges faced by managers everywhere.

According to Gallup's report, The Manager Experience: Top Challenges & Perks of Managers, managers face a special set of obstacles in their day-to-day work.

Here are the top five challenges managers face:

  • unclear expectations in their role
  • a heavy workload with lots of distractions
  • general job stress and frustration
  • less focus on their strengths
  • frustrating performance reviews

Download the report for ways to create a better work experience for managers.

The way these challenges prevent a manager from developing a team in real life is perhaps ironically demonstrated in the very first episode of Mary Tyler Moore, an American sitcom that first aired in 1970.

During Mary's job interview, Lou Grant, the seemingly jaded and exhausted manager, says, "You know what? You've got spunk!" and Mary, thinking she's received a compliment, replies, "Well, yes."

And then he follows up with, "I hate spunk!"

Beneath the scene's comedic charm is a picture-perfect image of what not to do. Mary's natural pluck and enthusiasm likely hint at talents she can't help but express. Misdirected or neutralized talents go nowhere (or cause trouble) when they could be coached and applied for tremendous performance and productivity.

When managers get worn down and burned out by their own unrelenting daily challenges, an employee's natural talent can become a bother instead of the boon it truly is.

Leaders who are serious about building a strengths-based culture simply must grapple with the challenges facing managers today.

What needs to happen?

One way or another, all managers need coaching of their own. They need a real champion for their own development, engagement, and performance. Someone who can directly address each major challenge identified in our report as they manifest in the lives of individual managers. In other words, managers of managers need to be coaches, too.

And these busy leaders should have partners to hold them accountable. They can do this by enlisting a team that is devoted to coaching and developing managers. Such an investment of time is well worth it: after all, managers account for 70% of the variance in a team's engagement.

Build an internal network of strengths coaches who focus on manager development.

Leaders and managers need all the ongoing support they can get. A network of coaches whose mission is to provide practical strengths insights and tools is an essential part of a strengths-based organization.

As highly credible and influential partners, a network of high-level coaches can join forces with leaders to embed a culture of strengths-based development deep within the organization. They help everyone keep strengths-based employee development top of mind.

When managers get worn down and burned out by their own unrelenting daily challenges, an employee's natural talent can become a bother instead of the boon it truly is.

Just as important, they coach managers to tackle their most persistent issues. To this end, they can:

Help managers leverage strengths and manage weaknesses. They can be another supportive resource to the manager, helping to plug the gap in manager strengths development. They can be a key resource and an expert for managers to call on and to reference as they aim to develop associate strengths.

Increase manager self-awareness so as to address key challenges like job stress, heavy workloads and distractions. Part of the ongoing strengths development must be for the manager to grow their own self-awareness as they consider how their own strengths impact their handling of workload and stress. Managers should feel empowered to have transparent discussions with their own leaders to refine their own portfolio of work to better fit their strengths. This may mean taking on more or fewer people, or more or less budgeting, resourcing, or project work depending on the manager, their strengths, and the team's needs.

In a strengths-based culture, building an internal network of strengths coaches is a way to ensure that managers are not overwhelmed by their daily challenges.

Relieve managers from unnecessary stress:


Klayton Kasperbauer contributed to this article.

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