The Break Room

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Traits of a modern manager. How to be a “coach.”

Nov 23, 2015, 14:29 PM by Kathleen Kontos

If you are a manager and live by the mantra “employees should be happy they have a job and it is an honor to work for me”, you need to get with the times and change your ways. If your staff has not left you already, they surely will soon unless you start treating them as the partners you need to grow your department or business.

If you look at sports teams today, you can’t deny the similarities between managers and coaches. More of the “players coaches” are being hired and seeing success in the modern era of managing. This is no different in the business world. Becoming more of a “workers coach” may help you keep your key employees.  Below are some tips on how to keep your team successful.

Set the roster

To be a great manager, you need to have the right team in place and make use of everyone’s strengths. Just as a baseball pitcher may not make a good first baseman, a person who is great with data may not make a great customer service person. All positions are valuable but be sure each team member knows their role and play on their strengths.

Don’t throw your team under the bus in a press conference

Granted you may not have many press conferences as a department manager, but lessons can be learned from meetings and times when you’re talking about the state of your team to your superior. When things go right, state that the “team” got this right and praise the individual members. When things go wrong, state that it is “our issue” and as a leader it is something that we will all work on to clean up. Blaming others for poor performance or only taking credit when things go right is shallow and something that will quickly infuriate your team.


A manager’s team usually follows the cues of their leader. A quick tempered manager will probably allow team members to feel that expressing their discontent for their job or another department is acceptable. Manage with a level head and your team will probably follow as well. It is a good idea to set a tone for meetings or projects with discussing what can be accomplished and avoid first listing the reasons why something can’t be done.

If someone is an ALL Star, they still need mentoring and coaching

One of the biggest mistakes a manager can make is thinking that a great player can manage themselves because they are already a top performer. Even the best of players still need guidance. Remember to spend as much time with your key players to help them improve as you do with the players who are on that cut line.

Get to know your team

Not everyone is comfortable with getting together outside of work. However, having the occasional get together after 8-5 can help coworkers bond, relieve stress and get to know each other more on a personal level. Think creative.  In baseball, Chicago Cub’s manager Joe Madden purposely does some off the wall things to keep his club loose. He is a huge fan of themed road trips, making his team wear robes or old-school train attire (top hats and all) on a plane from one road trip game to the next.

Respond to the input offered by your team

It is one thing to ask for feedback or have employee’s complete surveys. It is another to act on the feedback. If you are offered feedback by your team, take it to heart, discuss it and then be sure you work on it. Have an open door policy and invite your players to meet with you just to see how their week is going. Randomly talking and getting to know your staff will make them feel more comfortable with you and will avoid having them think that the one-time per year you do call them in, is because they are being demoted down to AAA. 

Changing your management style to fit with the times can only improve the morale around your workplace. Every great team starts with a good coach.  What are some ways you manage your team? 

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