Hands in stacked huddle position

Companies with a strong coaching culture tend to have more employee engagement and higher revenue growth than companies that do not, according to a 2014 survey by the International Coach Federation.

Not only are outdated management techniques less impactful to your bottom line, but they also cultivate a climate of mistrust, criticism, and fear. Effective leaders, on the other hand, tap into coaching culture, which empowers, engages, develops, and inspires employees. So how do you become more effective as the leader of your childcare center? Leave the old management styles behind and introduce a coaching culture.

Managers are demanding and cyclical. Coaches are supportive and empowering.

Many leaders tend to opt for the “my way or the highway” ideology. They insist on micromanaging, they’re unapproachable, and their employees constantly fear criticism. Instead of teaching your team to avoid mistakes, believe in your staff, train them well, and trust them to make their own decisions. When mistakes do happen, figure out what went wrong and learn from them together.

Herb Kelleher, Founder of Southwest Airlines, stresses that “if you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.”

Managers focus on goals and objectives. Coaches focus on purpose and values.

Employees are often given detailed outlines for how to operate along with specific metrics to achieve. These objectives can be a good way for the organization to get things done, but many managers fail to provide their staff with context around why these goals are even there in the first place.

In Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, he reveals that managers tend to focus on the what and the how. (Goal: Children should be able to identify the colors of the rainbow). In contrast, coaches help their employees to understand the why. (Mission: We want to prepare our children for success when they enroll in school). When you start with your purpose, the goals and objectives make a lot more sense. And as Simon says, “The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe.” Coach your staff into believing what you believe; then they’re working with you towards your mutual goals.

Managers use rewards and punishment. Coaches use questions for people to arrive at their own solutions.

The old “carrot and the stick” reward system remains as one of the most popular paradigms in the workplace. And sure, rewarding someone for turning in paperwork on time, or punishing another for submitting it late, can certainly prove a manager’s point. But these actions cause anxiety and breed a toxic culture. Workplace observation studies and clinical research consistently disprove the theory that threats and rewards are an effective way to improve employee behavior.

Instead, a coach enables their staff to learn from their own experiences. By asking open-ended questions, you help your employees to solve a problem on their own. Someone must arrive at something herself in order for that idea to be meaningful. Even scientifically there are benefits; when people arrive at their own solutions, they experience a rush of adrenaline.

Dr. David Rock, author of the book Quiet Leadership, encourages coaches to not criticize, to encourage new patterns. “Start by leaving problem behaviors in the past; focus on identifying and creating new behaviors. Over time, these may shape the dominant pathways in the brain. This is achieved through a solution-focused questioning approach that facilitates self-insight, rather than through advice-giving.”

Start Coaching Your Staff

The benefits of a coaching culture are impressive: a productive workplace with layers of accountability, cultivating an atmosphere of growth, participation, and teamwork. By changing your unhealthy management tendencies into coaching habits, your staff, parents, and children will benefit immensely.

A Note from Tony:

Tony DAgostino Standing against a Wall

“When there is an issue, challenge or inflection point in your center(s), it’s very natural to ‘tell’ the team member what to do and how to do it.  The challenge is that this does not take advantage of the opportunity to create long term learning so they can solve the problem effectively and independently in the future and help others.  In leadership, your objective is to build leaders within your organization. If you are answering the questions, you are the bottleneck and not the solution. Consider investing the time and ask questions instead.  Ask questions with the intention of the team member processing the issue and solving it. In addition to empowering their decision making skills, they’ll retain the knowledge at a much higher rate than if you had “told” them while supporting their professional development.”

For more information on how to create an amazing culture in your center, schedule a tour with us today.