You’re struggling with employee engagement and looking for ways to make meaningful progress. You’ve done the surveys, tried the programs, and nothing seems to stick. Maybe that’s the problem.
You can’t just throw resources at employee engagement and expect it to improve. It’s an outcome of your culture, policies, systems, and everyday, seemingly innocuous interactions.
One of those everyday interactions is the coaching conversations you use to encourage, improve, or course-correct employees. Through these coaching moments – formal or informal – you demonstrate your values, build or break emotional bonds, and contribute to your organization’s culture and subsequent employee engagement.
And, while changing your view on coaching won’t be the magic pill to all your engagement woes, it can have a significant impact.
Here are a few tips I’ve applied to help you leverage coaching to improve employee engagement.
Coaching is more than just a one-and-done event.
Coaching requires time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. It’s an ongoing process of building trust, respect, and mutual accountability. To make the most of coaching, approach each session as part of a continuing conversation acknowledging improvements. Adopting this mindset can create a supportive environment for growth and development.
Coaching is a collaborative dialogue.
Listen to your agents’ opinions and concerns during coaching and feedback sessions. Coaching should not be a one-way street where the coach imparts all the knowledge and wisdom. Instead, it should be an interactive learning experience that benefits both the agent and the coach. Creating an open and collaborative environment fosters trust and builds stronger relationships with your agents. Encourage your agents to ask questions, share their thoughts, provide feedback, and be willing to do the same. Coaching is a partnership, and by working together, you can help your agents achieve their goals and improve their performance.
Don’t delay feedback.
Providing timely feedback, especially when it’s praise, is essential to building a culture of employee engagement. When feedback is delayed, agents may begin to feel like their efforts are unimportant or unnoticed. To avoid this, deliver sincere, realistic, and appropriate praise immediately. Doing so can build trust and create a positive environment encouraging employee engagement. And, to the previous point, feedback should be a two-way conversation that recognizes achievements and offers constructive criticism. You can help your agents feel valued and motivated to continue improving by providing effective feedback.
Have a realistic sense of achievement.
Progress is a journey; celebrating milestones can help your employees feel valued and appreciated. A realistic sense of achievement is crucial to creating a culture of appreciation and recognition. Sometimes, we may only hold back on praise once an employee has fully achieved the objective we’ve set for them. However, this approach can cause us to overlook the progress and improvements they’ve made. To avoid missing these opportunities, it’s essential to acknowledge and recognize the small victories and gains that lead to more prominent successes. Doing so can create a positive and motivated culture that encourages your employees to continue growing and improving.
Provide focused feedback.
Providing development feedback is essential for improving performance, but overloading an individual with too much input during a single coaching session can be counterproductive. When overwhelmed with feedback, employees may need clarification about what needs to be improved or changed, or worse, they may feel demotivated and stop trying altogether. To avoid this, it’s important to focus on the most critical behaviors that impacted the success or failure of the interaction. Instead of providing a laundry list of feedback, identify one or two key areas for improvement and provide specific, actionable feedback to address them. By doing so, you can help your employees feel empowered to make meaningful changes and achieve success. Remember, effective coaching is about providing focused feedback that inspires growth and development.
Maintain a consistent approach to coaching.
A consistent coaching process ensures effective coaching and feedback across your team. To establish a clear and consistent approach to coaching, consider creating a coaching roadmap that provides a visual and written framework for delivering feedback. A coaching roadmap should outline the process for identifying behaviors to coach, provide guidelines for giving positive and corrective feedback, and offer a framework for ensuring consistency and calibration in applying performance standards. By implementing a coaching roadmap, you can ensure that all coaches are aligned on the desired approach to coaching and that feedback is delivered consistently across the team.
Have employees take the lead in their development.
Encouraging employees to take ownership of their development and problem-solving can be a powerful way to foster engagement and commitment to your coaching program. By enabling employees to find solutions and approaches, you build confidence and competence and demonstrate that their opinions, ideas, and experiences matter. This approach can be particularly effective in gaining agent buy-in, as employees feel more invested in their development.
Take it one conversation at a time.
Remember, improving employee engagement cannot be solved quickly or simply throwing resources at the problem. Instead, you must create a culture that values everyday interactions, such as coaching conversations, and fosters trust, respect, and mutual accountability. By embracing coaching as an ongoing process, a collaborative dialogue, and an opportunity for timely and focused feedback, you can empower your employees to achieve their full potential and reach their goals. With consistency and investment, one conversation at a time, you will lay the foundation for an engaged workforce.