One of the key stakeholder management roles fulfilled by project leaders is helping team members grow and improve. Remember, you cannot be successful as a leader unless your team succeeds in achieving its objectives!
You have four basic ways to develop team members: teaching, coaching, counseling and mentoring. Understanding the differences and selecting the right approach for each situation helps you help your entire team to succeed.
The focus of teaching is to impart knowledge and information through instruction and explanation. The goal for the student is to acquire a skill or pass a test. Learning has a one-way flow, and the relationship between teacher and student is minimal.
Effective for: Simple knowledge transfer. This can be facilitated by external experts delivering focused training sessions or asking a skilled team member to do the teaching. Your job is to make sure the right training gets to the right people at the right time.
Coaching usually focuses on skills development and performance–how to do something better, faster or more effectively. The role of the coach is to give feedback on observed performance, typically in the workplace. The coach is likely to set goals for the student and measure performance periodically as that person develops new skills. Coaching requires a close working relationship between learner and coach.
Effective for: Driving improved performance. Every elite sports team has a committed coach. As a team leader, you need to take this role seriously if you want to lift your team’s skills and performance to the elite level!
The counselor uses listening and questioning to build self-awareness and self-confidence in the student. The goal is to help the person deal with something they are finding emotionally difficult. As with teaching, learning in this manner is one-way, and the relationship is minimal.
Effective for: Helping a team member deal with personal difficulties, such as when someone feels he or she has been harassed or victimized. Don’t be afraid to bring a skilled external counselor.
Mentoring is a partnership between two people, with an emphasis on mutual learning. Good mentors adapt to the needs of the learner.
The role of the mentor is to build capability and help the learner discover personal wisdom by encouraging him or her to work toward career goals or develop self-reliance. Because the mentoring relationship is focused on the mentee’s personal goals it should be kept separate from direct lines of management control; it is very difficult to mentor a direct report. Mentors may draw on a number of approaches (teaching, coaching and counseling) to help mentees achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves. Because the relationship is mutually beneficial, strong bonds are often forged, which often outlast the mentoring relationship.
Effective for: Building the capability of the learner. Carefully select the people in which to invest the effort and emotion of building a relationship. If it’s not right for you, help your team member find the right mentor.
However you choose to develop in your team members, the investment is worthwhile. An empowered, motivated and skilled team is the best underpinning you can have in your quest to be a successful leader.
What combination of methods do you use to help team members grow?