4 Tips to Improve Your Employee Coaching Methods
Employees around the world have suddenly found themselves in management positions thanks to the pandemic requiring companies to push workers into new roles - often with little to no preparation. While these new managers might be experts in their respective fields, they don’t necessarily know how to manage or lead people, which can lead to ineffective leaders who aren’t meeting their full potential or inspiring colleagues to reach theirs. Specialty knowledge alone often doesn’t make for a great leader. Management skill requires a great deal of training and experience to develop.
Effective training is the key to turning your employees into superior managers, and now is the time to hone your employee coaching skills to set your team members up for bright futures in management. There are countless ways to teach how to effectively coach people, and taking the time and effort to do so means that the future of your business is in good hands.
The importance of employee coaching
Management is about more than being an authority figure - it’s about being an effective leader who inspires employees to develop their skills, build stronger ties through enhanced communication, and unlock their true potential. It’s no longer enough to simply act as a boss, you need to serve as a coach in order to get the best out of your workforce. The best managers are those who constantly engage their employees, recognizing the unique strengths of individual team members, identifying their talents, and working with them to develop those skills and increase their knowledge through professional development opportunities.
Effective coaching is critical to fully realizing and developing the skills of employees and teams in the workplace, building a stronger workforce and creating future managers in the process. Coaching takes time and effort, but the results speak for themselves. In order to serve as truly effective leaders, you need to ensure that your managers (and future managers) know how to coach. Great coaches have a way of empowering employees and inspiring them to work harder, smarter, and more productively than ever before, allowing your business to reach new heights. Thankfully, learning to become a great coach is easy when you know where to start.
Listening, questioning, and building trust
Great leaders take the time to get to know their employees. This means developing genuine connections, offering continuous feedback and providing an open line of communication to each and every member of the team. Listening to employees is one of the most effective ways to build those connections, and should account for quite a bit of your time. Whether it’s listening to concerns, suggestions, or just their general thoughts, taking the time to listen to employees allows you to better understand them, which will help to inform your coaching. Listening also makes employees more likely to confide in managers about stressors, burnout, and the desire for professional development, allowing you to better assist with workload and planning for their future.
Old-school management styles suggest not blending the personal and professional. This has changed, with some nuances - it is still inappropriate to be overly involved with an employee’s personal life, but a limited amount of socializing and getting to know each other is definitely the more modern management style. While you are going to personally get along with some members of your team more than others, you should never let that show. All team members should receive equal treatment.
Questions are another excellent way to build trust. Whenever possible, coaches need to field questions from employees. Not only does this give you a chance to learn about their concerns and potential areas of growth, but it offers a way to pass on your expertise. Being able to confidently answer questions will show employees that they can count on you to resolve issues and assist them in areas they might be unsure of.
Constant growth and development is key
Coaching offers you the opportunity to oversee the development of each employee’s unique skills to help them reach their potential and become more effective in their roles. As a coach, you should always be focused on fostering growth in employees, working with them to create a roadmap that will see them become stronger members of the team.
This might mean working one-on-one to hand down the skills and knowledge you’ve developed as a manager and an expert in your field, or offering professional development opportunities that will give them the tools and resources needed to grow their skillset. For example, external management training could be made available for each new employee that makes the leap from staff to management.
Another great coaching tool is Prodoscore’s productivity intelligence software. By providing visibility into daily activity, Prodoscore gives leaders insights into how employees work to highlight areas for improvement and also what employees may be doing well.
Your job as a coach is to never settle for “good enough” - when you see room for growth or the desire of an employee to advance their career, you need to be able to work with them to see it through. Not only can this lead to a more productive and efficient workforce, but it can also be used to develop future managers who will be more prepared to coach a new generation of workers.
Recognizing strengths and letting employees find their own way
No two employees are alike. Each member of your team is equipped with unique skills, knowledge, and experience that sets them apart from others. As an effective coach, you need to be able to recognize the individual strengths of your team members so that those strengths can be put to use.
If an employee has the potential to be an excellent salesperson but is being used in a customer service capacity, you should recognize this and work with them to make the change. Recognizing and capitalizing on strengths can help you redefine the way your team functions, allowing employees to do what they’re truly good at. This makes for far stronger teams, and more importantly, more satisfied employees that will feel fulfilled in their role.
When you recognize weaknesses in your employees, it’s important to work with them to address and strengthen those areas. In most situations, this means letting your employees find their own way. That’s not to say you can’t assist them when they need it, but allowing them to find their own answers and work through some challenges themselves will allow them to overcome hurdles and become well-rounded members of the team. This can be difficult as newly-minted managers are used to kicking “hardball” problems up to management - you have to discourage that and coach them through the problem-solving process. So, rather than stepping in to give them answers, guide them to where they need to be. It might be frustrating and time consuming for all parties, but ultimately your employees will grow and develop new strengths.
Don’t forget to reflect on your own skills and development
Your goal in training your managers should be to constantly foster growth in your team to get the best out of them. While you’re growing and developing your team members, it’s critical to remember that you always have to be growing and developing alongside them. As a coach, you have skills, knowledge and experience worthy of passing on to your team. Reflecting on these things will allow you to become a more effective leader, and will highlight your own blind spots and weaknesses.
By taking the time to reflect on your skills, you can work on strengthening them, gaining new knowledge, and overcoming challenges and weaknesses. As a leader, you need to always be on the lookout for future roadblocks you and your team might face, and this can’t happen if your own growth has stalled. Learn new skills, hone the ones you already have, adopt new technologies and methods of tackling work, and explore new ways your team can succeed at what they do. Your own continued growth will go a long way in coaching a well-rounded and highly effective team.
By focusing on the qualities required by truly effective leaders, your business can turn even the best managers into inspiring leaders and coaches. By listening to your employees, welcoming questions, building trust, focusing on growth and development, and being able to identify and capitalize on strengths and weaknesses, you’re not only making your own managers more effective coaches, but you’re investing in the future of your business by training a new generation of successful leaders.