Listening as a Coaching Skill
When a manager effectively listens to his or her employees, they will see the performance and engagement levels of team members increase significantly. Everyone wants to be heard, including you. Employees listen better when they feel their manager is attentive to them. As a manager, you can lead the way in this area and extend yourself so that the employees know you are present with them. They will learn from you.
A manager has a good chance of getting the employee to change his or her performance or behavior if they are both in agreement. Performance or behavior issues are the employee’s problems. You could be the cause of it, so you may need to own up to how you are impacting the employee’s performance.
A manager needs to be aware of continuously building trust with each team member. Why is trust so important? An employee who trusts their manager is open to change, feels respected, and goes the extra mile to keep their performance and engagement high.
The manager builds trust with day-to-day interactions with the team members. You can’t maximize an employee’s performance and potential without a foundation of trust.
They say it’s hard to motivate an employee if they don’t have an interest, are not competent in the work, or have a low threshold to work hard. Motivation comes from within an employee, though a manager can easily demotivate an employee who was initially motivated.
Here are some ideas to work with an employee’s inner motivation:
- Provide a clear vision around expectations and how he or she fits into the project or the success of the company.
- Find out what his or her strengths are and what excites them.
- Find out what he or she values, and do your best to create work or lifestyle that supports those values.
- Set small goals where he or she can be successful, and provide regular recognition.
- Create development opportunities for growth.
- Communicate and be transparent, so you build trust with each employee.
Continuous feedback on an employee’s performance, whether the improvement is needed or recognition of a job well done, is essential. Employees can’t read your mind. Instead, you need to be mindful of their performance and let them know how they are doing. Consistent feedback fine tunes and increases performance levels. If you wait too long, then the employee doesn’t know whether he or she is doing well. It’s always about clear, concise, and consistent communication.
Coaching usually takes the form of verbal discussions, though you can provide written examples as guides in your discussions.
You might use coaching in the following instances:
- With new employee
- To teach a new skill
- When an employee is taking on a project that is particularly complicated
- After the first display of mild inappropriate behavior or performance issue
Keep notes of your coaching. Refer to them when preparing employee evaluations or when counseling an employee who requires performance improvement.
Remember: your coaching helps build a competent team, one that participates in the growth of your business; with the right encouragement, every one of your employees will support your efforts to meet business objectives.
When addressing performance or behavioral issues, keep in mind that it’s your role to guide your staff towards higher performance, and use your coaching skills to help your employees create solutions for their performance.
Do you communicate clearly to your staff the performance standards you expect from each of them? Provide them with both positive and constructive feedback.