A Guide to Coaching Employees in a Way That Works - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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coaching employees

A Guide to Coaching Employees in a Way That Works

The work environment is continually getting tougher and more competitive around the world. In the midst of this, companies have found it useful to coach their employees to keep them productive and engaged. To understand how coaching helps corporations meet their employees’ emotional and creative needs, read on.

The focus is on collaborative management, which connects company leaders with their employees and helps boost engagement and creativity in the best workers. With organisations intent on providing the best resources to its employees, work and life satisfaction rises and brings on higher productivity and personal successes.

If you’re unfamiliar with the meaning of coaching employees, it is an instructional technique adopted by an organisation to increase their employees’ well-being as well as each worker’s productivity and engagement with their job.

Managers are best placed to implement this method. They reach out to the employees under their supervision and establish a relationship of mutual respect. The manager discusses the company, and team goals with individual worker take their feedback and suggestions, asks uncomfortable but crucial questions to get to the heart of the problem. Then the manager works with the employees to set up goals to resolve the issue and plans achievable steps to get to the solution.

This means that managers must shed their established roles as distant and feared bosses, and evolve into some more open to consultation and collaboration. This is the primary reason why the coaching technique can be uncomfortable for managers to adopt. It goes directly against tall previous wisdom that taught them to direct and monitor, not collaborate with their workers.

A 2016 report by BlessingWhite, a Human Resource consulting firm, has found that most managers enjoy coaching once they learn it, and a majority of employees like it as well. But amongst those surveyed, only 50% have ever received any type of coaching in North America or even Asia, and the number is even smaller in Europe. A second report by CEB finds that only 45% of workers who have been coached felt that their managers did a good job.

The studies also reveal that companies that do ask their managers to implement coaching in the workplace rarely compensate them for the added time and effort spent on the manager’s part.

Why is Coaching Employees so Powerful?

Recently it was found that more than 1/5th of Professional Human Resource workers believe that coaching employees directly benefit their productivity, while almost half think that it’s important in the workplace.

The BlessingWhite reports also illustrate when coached effectively, nearly two-thirds believe that their productivity and work satisfaction had improved, while managers who coached frequently admitted that they could see a sharp rise in employee performance.

A journal on psychology also published a study in 2015 establishing the usefulness of coaching in bringing about positive benefits in the workplace, including enhancing the workers’ capacity to learn and be more effective in their job.

Even as far back as 2012, Wollongong Research Online Sydney Business School was researching the motivations of managers who regularly used coaching despite the hardships they faced in adapting to new more and convincing their employees to participate. They found in their study that the managers they questioned were most optimistic about the technique on a personal and professional level.

How Do Effective Leaders Make the Most out of Coaching Employees?

Coaching requires an understanding of the ideas behind their implementation. Below are the necessary steps that outline the method.

2. Establish Trust: Coaching cannot be implemented in a vacuum. The manager must first establish a relationship of mutual trust and respect. The employee needs to feel comfortable enough to open up to you despite the difference in your positions.

2. Begin the Session: It’s best to lay the foundation before diving into the actual coaching. The employee needs to understand why they have been called in. If this coaching session is a follow up to months of poor performance by the employee, then they would justifiably be tense and unable to open up to you. Be friendly and non-confrontational as you put the cards on the table.

3. Come to an Understanding: Managers who are eager to get to the stage where they resolve the problems their employee is having, tend to miss a very important step that comes before. This is where you get your employee to verbally admit that they have a performance issue. As the manager who has been monitoring their work so far, you have to make them see the problem that exists and the consequences of not dealing with it.

You start by giving them examples of what you see as their main performance stumbling block. If you sense that they don’t understand why their behaviour is a problem, you can state your own expectations from them on the matter. Find out if they realise the direct consequences of their behaviour. Once they grasp it, have them confirm their understanding verbally.

In short, figure out what your employee thinks the problem is, so you can have the information you didn’t before, but also make sure that you correct any misinformation the employee might be harbouring.

If the employee becomes defensive, analyse your tone, and rephrase the question more sympathetically. If they have an excuse ready, show your understanding of their situation before trying to get them to analyse their behaviour in terms of efficiency and productivity.

4. Research Options: Once your employee has agreed that a problem exists with their performance and shown understanding of the consequences of carrying on in the same vein, gently prod them into coming up with their own solutions to the issue. The solutions can’t be general, they have to specifically address the problem and have realistic goals that can be achieved in a reasonable period of time. Restrain yourself from suggesting choices if the employee can’t come up with any since the point of the session is to be collaborative and help them thoroughly explore all available choices. Instead, help your employee see the pros and cons of the solutions they suggest until realistic ones have been found.

5. Have Them Commit to Self-Improvement: You have to next help your employee decide which of the solutions will be best suited to their character and work goals. You cannot make the choice in their place since the selection of a path is crucial to commit to change. But even then, you have to extract a verbal promise to enact the steps they have laid out and set a timeframe for them to show their progress. Finally, be sure to show them an appreciation for choosing a path of self-improvement through praise.

6. Analyse Their Progress

Initially, you’ll have to closely monitor whether the employee is sticking to the resolution to change. Good managers start by keeping a close eye but slowly increase the duration between check-ins until the employee self-monitors their progress and self-corrects if they begin to repeat past habits.

7. Give Feedback: The entire process will require many more coaching sessions, and throughout you must keep the employee notified of their own improvements. This encourages them to stay on the right track. However, if they have been falling behind on their goals then try to sympathetically see how you can help them find their way back. Praise and reward go a long way towards motivating employees to address their own performance issues.

Your feedback is most valuable if it is given immediately after your employee visibly achieves something or falters in any way. Always deliver it with sincerity instead of showing your frustration. Any form of hostility from their manager will simply cut your lines of communication with your employees.

8. Make Coaching business as usual: The principles of coaching in a corporate environment is quite different from the one in the world of sports. Although the words are similar, corporate coaching is more about collaboration and promoting an atmosphere of improvement through discussions than taking a hard, authoritative approach which simply does not work well on employees.

Coaching employees is a matter of analysing performance against job expectations and establishing an understanding with the employee that improving their habits or changing their goals can develop their prospects as well as their contribution to the company.

It takes into account where each individual employee is strong and where they are weak. Keeping cognizance of their abilities, it helps them formulate a path that aligns personal growth with work-life performance.

Leaders and managers often hold regular meetings with their staff where they analyse their job performance. This setup is perfect to implement coaching methods, as both parties are already familiar and comfortable with the custom of discussing job performance in these sessions.

Of course, there are many natural ‘teaching moments’ when a manager might find themselves in a position to mentor an employee outside such a session. Which is why coaching should not be strictly limited to scheduled meetings. It should also be used to engage and encourage employees to better themselves as and when such an opportunity arises.

In a time, when frequent turnovers have become the bane of the corporate environment, coaching employees aids companies in retaining both managers and staff since the method helps build stronger bonds through open and collaborative discussions.

This is hardly a surprise since the foremost reason for most employees leaving their job is their relationship with their manager. Coaching employees corrects the gap in communication and mends the relationship that is most crucial to an employee’s performance and continued loyalty to a company.

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Byron Conway

Content Coordinator at EmployeeConnect