HPO Factor – Management Quality – Coaching
Coaching is defined as ‘the act of training and supporting employees.’ HPO managers coach their employees by being supportive, facilitating them, protecting them from outside interference, and by being available for them when needed. They do not tell people how they should achieve their goals but do give them immediate and concrete feedback on their performance.
An activity that managers can undertake to support their employees and that is related to coaching, is mentoring. Whereas coaching focuses on helping employees deal with activities in their current position, mentoring aims at the longer term. Mentoring should help employees develop to the next level in their career and therefore deals less or even not at all with ‘the here and now’ problems and issues. Also, the mentor does not have to be the direct supervisor of the employee as is the case with coaching. Often senior managers function as mentors, especially if the person mentored is a junior manager. Mentoring is therefore concerned with explicitly developing the competence and capacity in an individual in the context of a one-on-one relationship, where the mentor has a depth of expertise and experience in particular areas. Mentoring thus promotes personal growth and development and has an explicit professional development focus on building a career for the employee in a particular sector.
All through my career at Microsoft I have been coached, both in and outside the company. Many of the conversations focused on self-reflection. I have always benefited a lot from my coaches. Now, I have a mentor on the business side, somebody I can use as a sounding board. Although we are functionally on the same level I can learn a lot from this person. I also have an external coach who I see from time to time to get a fresh perspective. This emphasis on development and a desire to get better is also a core value of Microsoft. In turn I am a coach to other people, and I mentor eight people. How do I know I am a good coach? I wouldn’t profess to say I am, but I do have a clear philosophy on leadership and the legacy of a leader. Building a sustainable, outperforming organization is the most important and satisfying task of a leader, well ahead of any functional capabilities. I spend much time on that and really enjoy that part of my role. Microsoft is serious about continuing to develop its talent and I feel responsible for helping the company to achieve that.
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