Every organization wants effective, engaged employees. In fact, employees want to feel engaged and effective in their workplace. How does one keep employees engaged and identify and address issues before they become real problems?
As you've probably experienced, employees are more likely to leave an organization when they don’t feel engaged and they’re not comfortable performing their job. That’s understandable because disengaged workers don’t feel like a part of the organization which causes a breakdown in communication and productivity beyond one employee.
Another common concern is if an employee finds their job too difficult to perform, they won’t be confident in their abilities, and will likely be fearful that they could be disciplined, demoted, or even fired for poor job performance issues. Which erodes productivity further.
However, there is good news.
When managers provide effective employee mentoring, training, and coaching, employees become inspired, motivated, and confident. It’s an obvious win-win! And it doesn't have to be difficult to get started.
According to the Harvard Business Review, coaching helps employees and companies achieve the following: Overcome performance problems; Strengthen employee skills; Boost productivity levels; Develop talent; Make better use of resources; Improve retention.
Overcome performance problems – By identifying areas that need improvement and providing training (including demos, one-on-one or team practice presentations, and playbooks), managers can help employees improve job performance.
Strengthen employee skills – Coaching provides an opportunity for employees to learn valuable skills that will make them more comfortable performing their jobs. It also enables to coach to understand which skills may need to be improved or refreshed and enables the coach to develop a continuing education plan.
Boost productivity levels - Once employees become more efficient and proficient in performing tasks, they can assume more responsibilities, which increases their value to the organization. Regular status updates and one-on-ones can alert the coach to new areas of interest or problems to solve to maintain the momentum.
Develop talent – Creating a pool of competent employees makes them more confident to seek leadership positions within the company. It also strengthens internal communication and bonds within teams to ensure their working together toward common goals.
Make better use of resources – Informal coaching is less expensive than formal training sessions. It can also be more valuable as it's more personal and strengthens employee's feeling of "belonging" in the company culture.
Improve retention – Coaching encourages employees are more confident and feel more engaged. They’ve developed skills that can be used in career advancement, feel that their manager and the company support them, and experience pride and satisfaction in being competent to perform their job. As a result, they are more likely to be loyal to the company.
For coaching to be effective, you need a plan. It should include a well-thought-out process that fits the behavioral insights of your employee. That's where assessments come in.
It sounds obvious, but when you understand what an employee needs to improve upon and what they want to accomplish, it's a lot easier to coach. Fortunately, development assessments can provide actionable data detailing what motivates employees to learn, what gaps exist in their natural aptitudes, and what learning and coaching formats are most effective for them. This allows you to build out a customized development process for each individual employee that sets them up for learning success.
Behavioral and cultural fit assessments are also valuable for their ability to tell you what environments and situations are the best matches for employees. This can be especially valuable when putting new teams together because it can head off potential sources of conflict and help put people in the roles where they’re most likely to be successful. The ability to provide insightful information makes these assessments critical to successful employee retention strategies.
According to Scott Williams of the Raj Soin College of Business at Wright State University, there are several steps included in effective coaching:
1. Put the employee at ease. This is a vital first step in the coaching session, especially if the coaching is a result of poor performance.
2. Discover what the employee already knows. Once determined, this can serve as a foundation for new information, and also helps to correct any erroneous data that the employee may have.
3. Present information or demonstrate work methods.
4. Repeat the presentation of information or demonstrate the work methods again. Repetition increases the chances of understanding and retaining the information.
5. Evaluate learning. Test the employee to determine if they understand the information that has been presented or if they can perform the skill as demonstrated.
6. Provide feedback. Let the employee know if they have successfully learned what was presented. If not, go over what still needs some work.
7. Correct. Provide or demonstrate the correct answers or procedure again.
8. Evaluate job performance. Periodically check to see if they are correctly implementing the knowledge or methods. Smith recommends gradually increasing the time frame for checking on the employee, with the eventual goal for the employee to be able to monitor their own performance.
9. Reward. The employee should be praised or given some other type of reward for mastering the area that required coaching.
Coaching is not the same as counseling. Wright says that “can’t do” problems require coaching, while “won’t do” problems require counseling. Won’t do problems refer to such issues as the employee’s attitude, or fears that may be preventing them from performing their task. In this case, counseling is the first step that must be taken to resolve the won’t do issues first before attempting to provide coaching to the employee.
*Updated from a 4/22/15 post.