Be a Coach, Not a Boss: How Feedback Culture Creates Winning Teams

Art by Jake Shapiro

Art by Jake Shapiro

Increasingly, we expect our workplaces to be highly collaborative, inclusive, and laterally structured environments. No longer do we rely on end of the year reviews and traditional top-down systems to administer feedback. Instead, like good coaches, managers are now expected to provide support on a regular basis and guide and motivate employees along their personal development and career paths — a trend that will only continue as the workforce welcomes younger generations.

This coach instead of manager dynamic has been driven in large part by 21st century worker’s demands for companies to cater to personal growth and development, and social causes employees care about. Motivated, engaged, and productive employees are generally the ones continuously seeking feedback on how they are progressing both personally and professionally, but the unengaged population can benefit, too. By checking in more frequently, employees can more effectively monitor their individual, team, and company stats, and see their progress in real time. Ultimately, this increases productivity, strengthens social connections, promotes employee engagement and health, and can help attract and retain talent.

Across the board, employees are asking for more feedback; this means more manager-employee exchanges to track, structure, and monitor. But it also means more potential to generate insightful data on employee engagement and managerial effectiveness. By leveraging mobile, digital, and online communication tools, employees have the opportunity to compile insightful company stats and to hold each other accountable daily, hourly, and even in real-time.

For example, a few new-to-market technologies include:

  • Software that allows managers to gather wide-ranging feedback via employee updates to gauge performance, organizational roadblocks, and overall teamwork levels.
  • Platforms in which colleagues evaluate each other in real time with mobile or web-based apps, providing valuable information on progress and areas of improvement.
  • Spaces in which employees are invited to provide regular upward feedback on managers, coaching and direction, and company trends.
  • Self evaluation tools used to benchmark and track personal growth and development.

In effect, these new data-driven feedback systems function as both pulsometer and stat-tracker, keeping up-to-date tabs on individual, team, and management productivity relative to benchmarks. Additionally, these feedback loops can be leveraged to strategically structure teams, create strong social networks, and engage employees with transparent communication — a corporate hat-trick per se.

When our workplaces operate more like sports teams, with managers as coaches and colleagues as teammates, the social fabric of the organization also takes on a new shape. Since there is more communication, transparency, and data being shared, employees are more aware of where they fall in relation to the group and organization. The ability to see performance trends year to year, week to week, and day to day encourages all team members to improve their performance to the benefit of the entire team.

As they say, teamwork makes the team work.

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