Are you struggling to balance building your team with your day-to-day duties as a manager? If you’re mired in projects of your own, spending all your time in meetings or often on the road, you may not have much energy left to help your direct reports grow and adapt their skills to new business needs. Yet, a good mentoring relationship is critical if you want to see them thrive.
A 2017 study on coaching skills found that individuals who perceive their managers as coaches are more likely to trust them. They’re also more likely to report doing their best work for managers who they perceive as being their advocate or champion.
Coaching and mentoring employees in the workplace helps team members develop new skills so they can deliver the results you’re looking for, but it’s also a challenge when you’re barely able to snatch a few minutes around the margins of your busy schedule.
How can you get more out of every minute? Here are three tips to ensure you are still mentoring your team while dealing with a packed schedule:
1. Hold purpose-driven check-ins
Make the most of the time you do have. Instead of dealing with questions on the fly through a series of unscheduled “Do you have a minute?” requests, schedule regular meetings with each team member and encourage them to save non-urgent requests for help.
Of course, you’ll still need to be available for some questions and emergencies, but train team members to know which issues warrant an interruption and which should be saved for later. You will find that those non-urgent questions and conversations more naturally get tucked into the “save for later” list by the simple act of scheduling a meeting. Knowing a time slot has been earmarked makes it easier for the team member to hold off.
Spend that meeting time wisely. Coach your direct reports to come prepared with those questions and concerns, and ask them to think through some solutions ahead of time. You should be spending this time advising at a substantive level rather than trying to figure out what the issue is in the first place.
This not only equips your team members to be more efficient with your time but also trains them to arrive at solutions independently.
2. Empower team members to solve their own problems
Coaching and mentoring employees in the workplace doesn’t mean you should be constantly solving problems for your team. If you’re feeling constantly peppered with basic requests, take a look at your management style. You may be subtly undermining your team’s sense of self-reliance. Are you micromanaging each step, or are you giving your team members the tools, training, and autonomy they need to come up with their own solutions?
Making online learning and training easily accessible to your team, for example, allows them to seek a range of resources and best practices, and then to work through a challenge on their own. You may be instrumental in identifying key resources for an individual’s needs, but having a comprehensive library of expertise gives team members a first port of call when needs and questions arise.
Ideally, your direct reports will be capable of working efficiently and independently without your constant input. As your team becomes accustomed to independence, they’ll need less guidance from you and will become better at their jobs. Following this approach will free you up to mentor your team on more high-level issues.
3. Use coaching time to pinpoint areas of improvement
Occasionally, you’ll provide more in-depth coaching, such as when you have a new hire to onboard or to help a team member overcome a specific challenge. But spending one-on-one sessions teaching skills isn’t the most effective way to spend time for either of you.
You should primarily use your time with direct reports to mentor them on higher order attributes. Work together to identify the areas and specific skills they should develop to advance their careers. Then, point them toward training resources where they can get quality information.
For example, are you coaching someone to take on more leadership responsibilities? In concert with your conversations, he or she can take online courses in interpersonal skills like team leadership.
Do you have entry-level workers who need to prepare for a shift to digital operations? Online courses in Microsoft Office make more sense than you demonstrating the software to them.
Does your team needs to broaden their skills to be multidimensional? The project leaders and project team members on your team could benefit greatly from project management training.
Look for online elearning platforms that help your team build skills through self-paced, engaging courses and that let you track their progress with detailed back-end reporting. A good example is the GoSkills Training Platform, which allows you to do just that, plus create your own courses, link to external resources around the web, and import and export SCORM courses.
Coach to inspire — and to learn
Pointing your team toward online training reinforces your role as a resource for high-level questions and in-depth support. This ensures you use your coaching time to give the guidance that only you can give.
Finding the time to mentor isn’t just valuable to individual team members. Mentoring helps you build your own leadership skills and gain insight into your own career as you reflect and teach on your experience. Plus, it is incredibly fulfilling to act as a mentor and watch someone else grow.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a valuable resource to your team. Be smart with how you use your time, and you’ll be able to both coach and retain your team while maintaining a high standard of quality for your own work.
Do you have emerging leaders in your company? The GoSkills LMS makes it easy for both managers and employees to develop their abilities and learn new skills. Customize learning for every employee with just a few clicks, quickly create groups and assign specific courses to them, and monitor their progress at a glance with easy to understand reporting and analytics.
Try the GoSkills Training Platform for free today and help your team grow their mentoring and management skills.