Managing, Mentoring, Coaching – how do you help your team to grow without smothering

When I first started my working life, several years ago now, things were relatively simple. My first employer was a large Chemical company and I joined them on a Youth Training Scheme. This meant I had some training in the wold of work, setting expectations, and setting out what I could expect.

On the job training consisted of colleagues guiding me through the requirements of my role, and a manager regularly meeting with me and giving feedback (what we would now call one to one meetings and supervision). My future career was something that wasn’t really considered. I did my job, looked at other jobs that were advertised internally and applied for those I thought I could do (at this stage in my life I had thought I would spend all of my working life with that one employer and would never leave).

Looking back and reflecting on that time I had some great role models. Some good managers, some great colleagues and some good networks. Some very good lessons were learned in those formative years about what made good managers and good, supportive colleagues, and more importantly how a good team worked together to improve the performance of all.

Fast forward to today and my role as a manager and things seem to be a lot more complicated. It seems to be a lot less about guiding staff and teaching/leading by example. Now there is Mentoring, Coaching, Supervision, Reflection, one to one feedback, 360 feedback.

In carrying out a team members appraisal this week, and setting objectives and writing a personal development plan, it struck me this vast level of complexity. When I was my colleagues age I would have just sat and had a quick daily catch up with my team leader and discussed any issues. A personal development plan never existed, we just talked about training if needed. Mentoring and coaching didn’t happen, we shadowed people and learned from how others behaved.

It seems that we have vastly overcomplicated a very simple process in the effort to make it more effective.

Maybe I am just a bad manager, but my view is always to be available and supportive of colleagues, offer advice and guidance when necessary, give constructive feedback (both positive and negative) and directly address issues and jointly come up with solutions and process to help address issues and learning needs.

Some reflection for me before my next appraisal perhaps?

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