Are You A Manager or A Water Dispenser? - Leading NLP Center Malaysia
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It’s nearing the final stretch of the year, which means most companies will be busy with job appraisals for their staff and departments just to see which staff member really deserves that nice year end bonus. This period of time is typically quite hectic for managers appraising their subordinates. For these leaders, it’s also probably the time they’ll also be reflecting upon their managing skills – What have they done well, what can still be improved, anything new that they can use, and what issues can they affect with better communication skills.

In this throwback to the November 2013 issue of SME Malaysia Magazine, Carsten addresses a common culture most managers face at some point in their lives. He discusses how you can use coaching to not only improve relationships with your staff, but also get more of your actual job done! Coaching for managers isn’t the nannying, motivational hoo-hah you may have believed it was. It is in fact, much different and far more practical for not only you, your staff but in the long term, the company. After all, how do you put a price on strong relationships, excellent communication, and generally just having a outstanding chemistry?


Are You a Manager or a Water Dispenser? – Why Coaching Skills are Essential for Managers

How much work do you really get done as a manager…AFTER you exclude the time you spend daily hand holding your staff through the issues facing them?

It’s the manager’s job to see the bigger picture, to make the decisions, and to enable their staff to work to drive the business forward. Yet, in all the years I’ve spent working in corporate companies and with clients, there is an undeniable pattern that many managers spend three quarters of their time being a ‘water dispenser’ who has to dispense solutions every time there is an issue to everyone who has an issue.

Of course, there is a high merit for the manager who listens, is supportive and helps their staff out. However, being a saintly martyr who tries to fix everyone like a trigger-happy consultant takes you away from your real job. Also, chasing out a valued staff member who seeks counsel destroys your credibility, as a leader. And these scenarios seldom end well for the manager.



So what should you do? Ignore it? Punish it? You need to be aware that it’s not a black or white situation. It’s probably not part of your job description exactly, but as the leader it helps tremendously that people see you care about them beyond just the professional boundaries, but as a human being. Listening and helping is useful but not to the extent that it cripples you from doing your actual job.

To better equip yourself to save time while handling issues (either your own or your staff’s), it is recommended that managers learn and develop sufficient skills in coaching. Although sometimes this is still unlisted in the job description, coaching is one of the most useful skills for a manager to have because it utilises the full range of skills of communication, not to solve problems for others but help them see other choices or options for themselves and learn to decide.

Certainly, as a manager you won’t always find the optimum solution in every session on the first try; either because of time, priorities, current capabilities or the extent of the issue but it’s equally important that managers learn to let go when it is time to let go, and how to let go. 

A good coach knows two things — Firstly, it’s not about you. It’s about them. You have to be willing to let them make their own choices, even if you personally, not professionally, disagree. Secondly, if you don’t have the time or skills to give the proper attention to the situation, seeks assistance from a third party with the right skills.



Coaching is a powerful process that benefits employees, managers, and the company. And it’s vital that you as the manager and the coach, are also coaching yourself and managing your own emotional states. If you’re helping someone else have useful beliefs, you need to also have useful beliefs as well that help you to help them. So what can you do already right now to start creating a different environment where you can focus more on the work you are being paid for? 

  • Take small steps.
    If your subordinates have been spoon-fed over the years, they will not be able to cope well by suddenly taking it away. A good relationship and/or environment where they can learn a new way to respond is key.

  • Let them help you.
    Rather than playing the psychotherapist you probably aren’t, have them communicate what their concerns, problems are and what options they believe are possible. This simplifies the things you have to look into and empowers them to think of solutions.

  • Ask more questions.
    Listening to the way they present their ideas may give you better understanding, but it’s only by asking better quality questions do you really get the answers that actually help you. It also allows you to check your (and their) understanding and eventually provide you with more answers rather than more questions.

The power of coaching has big implications on how it may affect yourself and others. The important thing to remember is that being a manager means being better equipped with the skills to handle the different situations you may face. And the best way you may find to become a better coach, is to first learn to be coached yourself. We say that “Children don’t do what you say, but what you do”. The same can be said of adults.

SME Mag Nov 2013

For other useful tips and other life changing ideas, please read our other blogs and learn the #AuthenticNLP™ with NaviGo® NLP Center.

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