With ever evolving technology, Apps for everything and growing advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), many managers might wonder why concepts like workplace coaching are still relevant. Is this simply not the machine age? Well yes and no…
Technology is helpful no doubt about it, but coaching conducted by skilled practitioners can yield immense benefits for any team, and so there will always be a place for managers to utilise coaching.
In this article we’ll describe the importance of coaching in the workplace, the steps you as a manager can take to be effective, and what advice a certain best-selling author can provide.
Who is a Coach?
First things first. If we understand the dynamics of a workplace coach, then realising the benefits will become much easier.
A coach in the traditional sense might be someone who guides a sports team or other individuals to succeed and improve themselves using verbal and sometimes even physical advice and pointers.
A workplace coach on the other hand is more like a mentor or a teacher. While manager reports and employee data might tell you about the ‘what’, workplace coaching helps you figure out the ‘how’ and the next steps employees can take to improve their performance.
A good workplace coaching example would be a manager that nurtures individual team members by developing a sense of trust and respect. They would realise the importance of collaboration and the dangers of isolation and would make sure to avoid the pitfalls that so many teams fall into.
Workplace coaches are always focused on employee performance and ways to improve it. They use data, experience, and feedback to help educate their workers and help them reach their professional goals and ambitions.
Why is Workplace Coaching Important?
Any business worth their salt knows that without good employees your venture cannot and will not succeed no matter how hard you try.
The answer also isn’t as simple as just offering more money.
Employee motivation and output is a complicated psychological study and while salary and compensation are important, other factors like inclusion, happiness and work-life balance, are much more indicative of future performance.
Workplace coaching aims to help employees with all these factors.
Coaching is especially relevant when implementing new corporate policies, dealing with sudden and immediate team changes, and coping with demanding work projects.
Workplace coaching will strive to make all these transitions and challenges smoother and easier for the employee to go through. This in turn will increase motivation and job satisfaction, therefore helping to increase output and (ultimately) profitability.
You don’t just have to take our word for it though.
Countless studies show the benefits of happy, motivated employees and the drawbacks of the opposite.
According to Gallup almost 85% of the global workplace is disengaged and disinterested in the work they do, and almost 60% are considering leaving their jobs- according to Inc. This results in poor work output and productivity.
On the flip side, Forbes writes that highly engaged and motivated employees can actually make their companies 21% more in profits.
These are not insignificant gains or losses and can quite literally change the shape of your organisation.
Steps Managers Can Take to Become Better at Workplace Coaching
Now that we realise the importance of this practice, let’s get into how you can start implementing it with your team TODAY.
We’ll break it down into 5 steps:
5) Track and measure
Step 1: Listen
Our first two steps are inspired and recommended by none other than Dale Carnegie himself. The master of productive psychology lays it all out in his world-renowned and classic book “How to win friends and influence people” which is essential reading for any aspiring manager.
One of the most important things that Carnegie mentions in his manual of people relations is the importance of listening.
This sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how little attention people pay to this indispensable skill.
Most of us listen to reply, not to understand.
You must be empathetic to your employees. If they voice a concern or problem, listen as if it’s the most important thing in the world.
If your doctor tells you something, you listen attentively, you take notes and you remember the information. To be a good coach, you must do the same when your employees talk to you.
Attentive listening develops a sense of trust and can make your team a lot more comfortable around you.
When a person is comfortable, they lower their guard and will tell you things they might not have otherwise. You can gain valuable insight into internal problems, reasons for bad performance or output and the list goes on.
Listening gives you a great platform to start working with in finding ways to discover (and resolve) problems.
Good listeners are few and far between and if you can put emphasis on developing this skill, you will be miles ahead.
Step 2: Ask
Dale Carnegie comes to the rescue once again by giving us another crucial part of the puzzle that is human interaction: asking questions.
People love feeling like they are being heard and appreciated, and as a manager, you MUST make sure that this feeling is realized naturally and authentically.
Asking your team members for input on how the project is running and their advice on how to improve it is only the beginning.
A good workplace coach asks questions that are more personal and human.
Like what their future goals are? Their job prospects and ambitions? How they want to achieve them? Personal problems they might be having (within workplace boundaries of course)…
Asking these questions will help your employees open up a lot more. If you only ask corporate-related questions, your employees might feel that you have vested interests and are obligated to do this.
Putting a more personal spin on the questioning will convey that you genuinely care about them and their success. People don’t like feeling as if they’re a cog in a wheel and unfortunately that’s a feeling a lot of managers create.
Taking a personal interest will help counter this and develop something much more organic and productive.
Step 3: Evaluate
Utilising the above two steps correctly should have yielded a lot of quality information that will help guide your next approach.
Just listening and asking is not enough to encourage growth. Information gained must be analysed and implemented into an action plan. Otherwise, your employees will feel it as just lip service and nothing more.
Through your notes, figure out the most pressing issues that need to be addressed and give less priority to the ones that can wait.
For example, if a team member tells you about a flaw in the project that is damaging output then that should be your first priority.
Arrange all feedback according to importance and deal with it systematically.
Step 4: Implement
After you have evaluated what needs to be done and the relevance of each approach, its time to implement some changes.
This could be as simple as having a discussion with your team or as complicated as restructuring an entire project’s workflow. It varies according to each manager’s unique position and team.
Each new change must to be carefully planned and remember, the basic principles of good management practices and respect should still apply.
Skillful coaching is especially important as the implementation step is the active part of the process where constant effort needs to be taken- regardless of employee resistance.
Step 5: Track and measure
You’ve listened, you’ve asked, you’ve evaluated and you’ve begun implementing change.
Job done right?
No. A good workplace coach can’t become complacent and has to make sure to follow up with all decisions and track their resulting effectiveness.
This is crucial because even though it might sound simple, workplace change can be challenging.
There will be complications and things you need to iron out during and after your strategies are deployed and if you don’t track them, all can be lost.
Make changes where required, if something is working, use its success in other parts of your workflow and always remember:
What gets measured, gets done.
Hopefully this brief guide gave you a better understanding of the (often-misunderstood) workplace coaching model and provided further insights into how coaching can benefit your team.
If you’re a manager you might recognise that while easy on paper, these strategies can be somewhat difficult to implement into a fast-paced, ever-evolving office, and this is where we come in.
Aptitude Management provides coaching workshops for managers looking to implement all the things we’ve mentioned in this guide- and of course a whole lot more.
Our workshops are a great way to practice what you learn in a safe, low stakes environment. You’ll gain instruction from professionals and arm yourself with the practical experience to take your employee’s (and your own) career to the next level.
Check out the rest of our blog for more tips and tricks and be sure to share this article with other managers or professionals who might benefit from the information.