As they seek to ensure long-term employee retention and productivity, organizations try a variety of strategies. They look to ensure their employees’ engagement through financial incentives, rewards and robust benefits. Some reform the office by offering more flexible hours or remote work opportunities. But perhaps the most effective tactic of all is to provide employees with a vitally important component of career development – leadership.
According to Authentic Excellence, workers are able to truly thrive when they’re coached to reach their full potential. Coaching not only helps workers develop their jobs into full-blown careers, but it also enables them to overcome any obstacles that come their way.
Matthew Becker, leadership and career coach at Authentic Excellence, believes that coaches can help employees overcome workplace obstacles. All they need is active listening – the ability to stop talking and consider the other person’s point of view – and the wisdom to ask good questions and send the right messages.
Becker believes that whenever any employee asks for coaching in a time of need, his or her problem can be solved in four simple steps.
Agreeing on the issue
The most important part of coaching is the employee recognizing his or her need for help. Whenever there’s an issue to be addressed, the worker must have the courage to approach a mentor and ask for guidance. It might be a short-term job issue, a long-term question about career development or an interpersonal conflict with a co-worker. In any case, the worker must be willing to come forward, and the coach should listen actively without being domineering.
Discussing potential solutions
Next, it’s time to discuss all potential solutions to the problem. This should begin with a brainstorming phase, in which the worker and his or her coach sit down together and generate as many ideas as possible. It’s important to let the thoughts flow without being judgmental or dismissive of anyone’s approach. Then, the coach should help the employee narrow down the possibilities and select the best way to confront his or her problem.
After brainstorming is complete, it’s time for clarity. The employee and coach must choose a precise course of action and commit to it. Then, the employee should take the lead. If it’s a squabble between co-workers, the coach shouldn’t need to intervene too heavily. If it’s a job skill, the worker should learn by doing – it’s not up to the coach to be too overbearing. Employees need to be accountable for their own courses of action.
Becker notes that the best way for coaches to drive their messages home is with positive reinforcement after the fact. The earlier, the better. The sooner the reinforcement is delivered, the more profound effect it will have on future behavior. It’s vital that coaches follow up on their messages, as they last thing they want is to impart wisdom now only to have it forgotten next week. Good habits come from repeated good behaviors.