Level UP Leadership as a Coach
Our previous Level UP series we discussed how to be a better delegator and grow as a leader. In this article, you’ll learn how using a coaching approach can significantly improve employee retention and engagement.
The easiest way to keep your employees, Coach Them!
According to a recent survey by Predictive Index, the average cost of a single resignation is now approximately $11,372 per employee. This same survey shows that on average, turnover has been roughly 20 percent over the past six months. So, for a firm with 1,000 employees, if 200 people leave, that would cost the business almost $3 million.
Companies that prioritize the employee experience see clear reductions in turnover compared to their peers.
As leadership guru, John Maxwell says: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Your responsibility as a leader is not only to achieve business results but more importantly, it is to develop others and help them reach their professional potential.
In our work with leaders, we see firsthand how leaders struggle with managing the day-to-day performance of their employees. No matter whether it’s a lack of courage, knowledge, skill, or time, coaching your employees is vital to your leadership effectiveness, and nothing could be more critical to your success.
A coaching approach is a critical element in employee retention and engagement
According to the Gallup organization:
- Employees want their managers to be coaches, not bosses
- Some instinctively know how to coach, while others must be taught
- Great managers have frequent, meaningful conversations with workers
Every employee wants and needs to know how they’re doing in their job. Younger employees are demanding it and if they don’t receive meaningful feedback on their performance and get their manager’s support in achieving their career goals, they’ll eventually find their way into another organization.
According to Gallup research, only two in 10 managers intuitively understand how to engage employees, develop their strengths and set clear expectations through everyday conversations. In effect, only about two in 10 managers instinctively know how to coach.
An effective manager-as-coach asks questions instead of providing answers, supports employees instead of judging them, and facilitates their development instead of dictating what must be done. In this environment, employees feel cared about and valued, and leaders will achieve greater loyalty and productivity from them as a result.
Gone are the days of the “Command-and-Control” leadership style
In the past, as a manager, you knew what needed to be done, you taught others how to do it, and you evaluated their performance. Command and control was the name of the game, and your goal was to direct and develop employees who understood how the business worked.
A major evolution is happening…companies are moving away from traditional command-and-control leadership practices and toward a very different model in which managers give support and guidance rather than instructions. Through a coaching approach, employees learn how to adapt to constantly changing environments in ways that unleash fresh energy, innovation, and commitment.
Leader as Coach
Think about a coach who made a huge impact in your life. It could have been in sports, a teacher in school, or a manager at work, what did they do that made such a big impact? Through their influence perhaps you won the championship, passed the class you were struggling in or attained the promotion that you aspired for and lacked confidence to achieve. They believed in you, encouraged you, cheered you to success, spoke words of affirmation over you. Or their impact could have been the constructive feedback that helped you identify your blind spots and areas where your actions or thinking were preventing you from achieving your goal.
What you choose to say and do on a daily basis can have a major impact on your direct reports’ world and their ability to reach their goals and be successful.
What is Coaching?
One definition of coaching is “unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance.” The best leaders have mastered both parts of the process—imparting knowledge and helping others discover it themselves.
It’s more of an “ask and listen,” not “tell and sell” approach which doesn’t come naturally for most leaders. For leaders who are accustomed to tackling performance problems by telling people what to do, a coaching approach often feels too “soft.” So, they resist coaching—and left to their own devices, they may not even give it a try.
Training is about skill specific learning. A coaching approach doesn’t replace other types of training. But it certainly can enhance it. Helping employees acquire the skills they need to perform their jobs. Mentoring involves high level support and advice based on the wisdom of previous experience.
In some ways, coaching is both of those rolled into one, with a more strategic slant. It’s about your ability to make other people more successful by helping them identify and eliminate roadblocks in their careers, guiding them to achieve their full potential and preparing them for success at the next level.
When should you coach?
There are 3 times when coaching is useful:
- Maximizing performance potential
- Correcting performance problems
- Developing skills for career growth
Some of the potential obstacles to successful coaching:
- Confusing the role of coaching with training, counseling, or discipline related to poor performance
- Assuming some employees are coachable, and others are not
- Not tailoring your communication style to suit the differences in your employees’ personalities.
- Feeling that you have to be the expert and have all the answers to be a coach
- Being reluctant to give up “managerial control”
- Underestimating the potential of your direct reports
- Expecting immediate results or feeling impatient with others’ reluctance to change, pursue new directions, or try new approaches
What are the benefits of using a “Coaching” Approach?
For the Employee:
It gives them an opportunity to grow their skills – when employees are coached, they feel like their talent is being recognized and their potential is being respected. It’s a huge motivator. They think, “if my leader sees something in me that’s worthy of nurturing and growing, I need to step up my game, – employees generally work harder and faster to make that become a reality. Coaching allows employees to uncover a genuine excitement about their work.
Increases job satisfaction and engagement – coaching helps employees better play to their strengths. 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence, and over 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills.
Increases loyalty to the company – the vote of confidence that comes from coaching makes employees feel a greater connection with the company, they’ll take greater responsibility and accountability for their actions and commitments.
For you as a leader:
It expands your sphere of influence -and makes you more valuable to the organization. In the long run, it will ultimately increase your track record of success and accelerate your own career.
It gives you a sense of significance – for many leaders who accept the coaching role, they say it’s the most fulfilling part of their job. Helping others to grow and learn and being able to see the actual impact of their work on others is immensely gratifying.
For the organization:
There is an abundance of data that shows coaching an enormous bottom-line impact.
- Employees who are coached are statistically shown to exhibit higher productivity and increased levels of engagement.
- Strong team relationships lead to positive morale.
- The employees’ connection with their leader increases their loyalty to the company.
10 best practices for giving quality feedback
- Be positive. Focus on what the person is doing well when giving feedback (and not just what they can improve upon).
- Focus on the behavior, not the person. When discussing a problem with performance, keep your emotions in check. Focus on the actions of the individual, not the person.
- Be specific. Provide tangible examples of the behavior in question, not vague, “drive by” criticism like, “You’ve been arguing with customers a lot” or “I’ve been hearing complaints about your attitude”
- Be timely. Don’t wait until the employee’s annual performance appraisal to provide positive or negative feedback. The closer feedback is tied to the behavior in question (good or bad) the more powerful it will be.
- Make sure you are clear on why you are delivering the feedback. Often, feedback comes from judgment, and we don’t want to pass it off as feedback. So, it’s important to pause and think about where the feedback is coming from and how can you deliver it in a way that will be received positively.
- Don’t use judgment as a means for feedback. Don’t use feedback as a cover for you to share an actual judgment or be critical of another person. Judgment is just your opinion of a person’s character and isn’t neutral.
- Provide feedback from a neutral place. Feedback is really a piece of information or observation you are sharing. Once a person receives the feedback from a neutral space, the person can decide to change or not.
- Make it a two-way conversation. Take time to engage the employee and check for understanding. Focus on “partnership,” not “this is what you’re doing wrong” or “this is what you need to change.”
- Follow up. If your feedback concerns a problem, look for opportunities to “catch them doing it right.” Reinforce positive behavior.
- Make sure you have these three qualities before delivering feedback. Feedback can best be received when you have the authority, credibility and trust already established in the relationship. Without these three things, it makes it more difficult to receive the feedback.
If companies are serious about retaining employees, it’s critical that managers become proficient at setting clear performance goals and giving meaningful feedback. Using a coaching approach is the most effective way to do that.
Coaching takes courage, empathy and intentionality. The good news is that with the right tools and support, a sound method, and lots of practice and feedback, almost anybody can become a better coach.
Through our Level UP leadership training programs and one-on-one executive coaching, Talent Edge Group teaches leaders how to give performance feedback and use a coaching approach to guide their employees toward greater business results and job satisfaction. Our training programs are highly interactive, practical, and application focused. We offer in-person and live, virtual training.
Follow us on LinkedIn to receive relevant and practical leadership insights and tips to grow your leadership effectiveness.
Do you want to hone your coaching skills as a leader? We have thousands of satisfied customers and would love to help you and your organization.