Managers can have the most influence and impact on employee engagement, but only twenty-five percent of employees agree that their managers provide useful feedback. So, not only do managers need to coach their teams, they need to provide an environment that creates an atmosphere of trust and connectedness in a time when organizations are adjusting to new remote work scenarios.
Historically, the role of “Boss” has been the disciplinarian, particularly when an employee fails or performs poorly on a given task. Coaching takes the opposite approach. Coaches need to understand what motivates their team and provide the necessary encouragement to push their limits. They also need to be able to recognize when a team member may be struggling. Particularly, in a time when teams are not spending time face to face in the office. A coach views poor performance as an opportunity to enhance learning.
It’s not surprising then that employees who receive consistent feedback are at least three times more engaged than those who aren’t evaluated as often. On the flip side, however, the truth is that managers are often strapped for time, the right tools and/or knowledge to coach their employees. In fact, researchers who analyzed 900 coaching conversations found that many managers do not understand how to coach effectively. Based on their experiment and other recommended best practices, they composed a list of skills that coaches should develop:
- Active listening
- Open-ended questioning
- Delivering timely feedback
- Assisting with goal setting
- Showing empathy
- Letting the employee arrive at their own solution
- Recognizing and pointing out strengths
- Encouraging a solutions-focused approach
Applying this coaching model to performance management can greatly improve employees’ productivity and overall organizational engagement. And if a manager is unable to help an employee learn or improve in a given area because it’s not one of their particular strengths, the manager can connect the employee with another manager or employee who is better poised to do so. This approach underscores that the priority is the learning, not the instructor.