Coaching in the workplace has often been associated reprimands and only offered when an employee is having problems with customers, difficulty meeting goals, or conflict with other employees. However, the newer generations in the workplace view coaching and development as a benefit and often value it more than health insurance when choosing employers.
If your company wants to attract and retain employees – adding coaching to your company culture will be a win-win for everyone. Here I will discuss how coaching can benefit your business and some easy skills that anyone can learn.
Benefits to your business
In the past, coaching was mainly offered to executives, focusing more on senior managers and leaders and often facilitated by outsourced professional coaches or consultants. From years of observing the benefits that come from executives being coached companies finally caught on that by making it part of the company culture, it was a win-win for everyone. Nowadays, many companies train managers on how to coach employees to develop their capabilities, improve their skills, and increase performance.
Employees who respond well to coaching and improve their performance become valuable contributors to the success of the business. Regular coaching brings performance issues to an employee’s attention when they are minor, and assists the employee to correct the problem before it becomes more significant. Employees view coaching as caring and are more willing to ask questions, admit mistakes, or speak up about ideas increasing trust and commitment within the team.
Employee coaching is valuable because when an individual is inspired and committed to their goal, it increases their energy and focus on making it happen. Providing frequent feedback acknowledges the employee for their work and allows the opportunity for guidance if their course needs to be corrected. Coaching and feedback are typically done in a casual manner of conversation while the employee is working versus a formal, sit down meeting.
Learning to coach someone can be intimidating, but all you have to do is start practicing the skills, and little by little, they will become more natural.
Coaching encourages employees to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Asking short and open-ended questions will empower the employee to find answers themselves, making them more committed to following through because it was their idea. Some easy and powerful questions to ask are: “What’s the next step?” “How will you know when it is complete?” “What else should be explored?” “Tell me how you would do that?”
When coaching and asking questions, it is important to listen and be curious about the employee’s words, points of view, and motivations. Make it your goal to remove assumptions so you can focus on understanding where the person is coming from. Afterward, reflect to them what you heard with any questions you might have, and begin a productive conversation to co-create a solution.
Let employees explore options
If you are an all-knowing problem solver, it can feel uncomfortable to stand by and let your employees solve things on their own. However, coaching is an empowerment process to inspire confidence. When coaching employees resist telling them what to do. Instead, ask them to give you a few options first and then offer your input afterward. Contribute to the discussion but let them make the final choice about what to do. When employees create the solution, they are much more committed to seeing it through.
Employees need to know how they are progressing toward their goal, and frequent feedback will keep them motivated and inspired. Checking in often to offer encouragement and express confidence in the employee’s ability to succeed will allow them to ask questions about a challenge they may be having. Document any significant feedback and coaching moments and place in their personnel file to discuss during the employee’s scheduled performance review.
Watching an employee improve, become more confident, and transform because of your guidance is rewarding. The old office paradigm of top-down management is becoming extinct, and the rise of collaborative leadership is found to be much more effective. When you model positive coaching and feedback at work, it can’t help but spill into your personal life as well, giving you better communication skills to use with your family, friends, and community. Coaching and feedback will not only inspire confidence in your employees but will also create a healthy and enjoyable work environment.
In conclusion, the goal of performance coaching is not to make the employee feel bad, nor is it your time to shine and show off how much you know. The purpose of coaching is to collaborate with the employee to come up with a solution or plan and determine the steps to make it a success. Building an employee team of confident, independent thinking professionals is what will keep your business on the leading edge and bring top talent knocking at your door.