One of the critical elements to successful business coaching between a manager and members of their workforce is the development of trust and the ability to have a constructive dialogue about issues which are preventing those workers from fulfilling their maximum potential at work.
Business coaching, as we define it, is a skilled business conversation that enables the person being coached, to come up with their own options to move forward on a business challenge with high commitment. This means that, when managers are performing business coaching with one or more of their employees, effective communication skills are imperative.
One way in which managers attempt to increase their level of approachability is to declare themselves as having an open door policy, by which they mean that employees are welcome to drop in whenever the door is open to discuss things. This policy is a good first step in the building of a rapport with workers but in order to be effective and achieve the desired objectives there are certain factors to take into consideration.
If a manager decides to have an open door policy, then they must truly buy into it and actually want it to take place. Of course there will be times when the manager has his or her door open but is right in the middle of something and does not have the time to be disturbed, but if this happens every time an employee wishes to talk, or the manager sighs and makes it painfully obvious that they cannot really be bothered with the problems their employees are having, then their aspiration of being seen to be approachable will be quickly eroded and staff will soon begin to stay away.
Even if a manager tells workers that their door is always open, if they shut themselves away in their office and never really venture outside of it very often and do not really converse with anyone except for short work-related matters, employees will begin to regard the manager's office as an unwelcoming lair into which they should not venture, which is definitely not conducive for an approachable manager and their stated open-door policy. The manager needs to take the time to go out and be seen by their staff and ensure that they have informal chats about both work and non-work-related subjects. By doing this - so long as they do it right of course and do not start arguing or falling out with people! - they will appear far more approachable which will make the business coaching process in the future far easier and have much greater effectiveness.
For business coaching to be successful, regular sessions need to be scheduled and performed in order to evaluate how the person receiving the coaching is progressing and overcoming the barriers and problems that were discussed in the previous coaching sessions. If a manager only has the time to schedule a one-off meeting, or they can only fit in infrequent once-in-a-blue-moon sessions then they are highly unlikely to become a successful business coach to their employees.
They are also likely to be ineffective managers full stop, or at the very least not get their team to achieve as much as it possibly could were they there to be there and available to answer any queries and motivate their team. Without a central figure there to provide leadership, workplace teams can become disjointed, isolated and suffer from poor communication and collaboration. It is extremely difficult for a manager who is not there very often to gain the trust and respect of those for whom they are responsible for. In fact, a manager who only comes in occasionally and gives orders or makes changes can often be a highly disruptive and negative influence on the group as the change can create uncertainty and even resentment amongst those who are there every working day.
As well as the availability and the actual time spent in the workplace, the particular traits and character of the manager can also contribute to them being perceived as 'off-limits'. A manager who is frequently bad-tempered and crotchety and likes to shut themselves off from the rest of the workplace will not be as approachable or make as good a business coach as one who frequently mixes with their employees, communicates effectively and is seen to be open to the concerns or queries of their employees.
When it comes to developing a rapport and being seen as approachable - which will greatly enhance the success of future business coaching programmes - it is important that managers take the time to be seen and come out of their office to talk with employees about both work and non-work related matters.
As well as achieving the objective of increasing their perceived level of approachability, taking the time to come out of their room and walk around the office or workplace also has another benefit in that it allows the manager to get a much better idea and understanding of exactly what happens in the workplace. This may help them to identify certain issues or factors which could be changed or modified in order to improve the operations of the business, such as changing the layout of the workspace.
More importantly with regards to business coaching, taking the time to observe and listen to employees as they go about their duties will give the manager a much greater understanding of the type of people they are, what motivates them, what they are struggling to do, what is preventing them achieving certain objectives and so on. This is all vital information which can be used during the business coaching sessions to achieve certain goals such as raising motivation and increasing their performance.
One of the key elements of being a successful business coach to your employees is the process of two-way communication so that feedback can be given and problems discussed which are preventing the employee from reaching their full potential. In order for this communication to happen a manager must have time available to dedicate to their employees.
A manager who is having to constantly deal with problems will not have this time available.
Even if they started out with good intentions and made time available to coach their staff, if the coaching sessions are frequently interrupted by the phone ringing or other people knocking on the door and interrupting with urgent queries and questions then the flow of ideas and coherent structure of the dialogue will be spoilt and neither the manager nor the person receiving the coaching will get much out of the session as they will not be able to concentrate and focus properly.
Managers in this situation will not have the opportunity, or may even not recognise, that by taking the short-term "pain" of spending time on coaching an employee, they will gain in the long-term by giving that employee the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle the same or similar issue by themselves in the future (provided that the manager gives them this authority of course), and so will not need to use any of the manager's time in the future. If it is an issue that will occur frequently, the time spent now will pay off on numerous occasions over the course of the future.
The BCF Group have evolved from the Business Coaching Foundation, which was established in 2001. We have leadership development and business coaching at our core. Having representation from global learning leads, executive coaches and talent development specialists, we deliver accredited people development programs.Find Out More
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