Using business coaching to understand what employees desire from their work is a vital first step in being able to address and satisfy these needs, which will subsequently result in higher levels of motivation and staff retention.
A failure to get to grips with what the various individuals seek to get out of their employment, whether financial or other criteria, will usually lead to discontent and disagreements between managers and their employees that can result in a spiral of negativity that affects the overall performance of the company.
By undertaking business coaching meetings with their employees, a manager can get a much greater understanding of what their workers desire from their job role and also what incentives will motivate them to go the extra mile and perform to a higher ability.
Meeting employee needs is likely to increase their motivation and raise levels of output and productivity, as well as retaining talented workers and encouraging idea generation and responsibility. Whilst this will provide a tremendous boost to the department or company as a whole, managers also need to consider the potential drawbacks that may come with meeting employee needs.
For starters, the financial costs of meeting their needs may outweigh the benefits. As an example, meeting the need of employees to feel valued by the organisation may require lots of small gifts and treats to be purchased over a period of time, as well as financial bonuses to be paid. Whilst this will make workers happy, increase motivation and raise their productivity, the additional revenue generated by this higher production may not cover the amount that was spent to get to that position.
Also, managers should avoid appearing too accommodating to employees. Whilst a degree of flexibility and approachability can have big positive effects upon employee motivation and performance, a manager who is seen as a soft touch may soon find themselves being taken advantage of and workers having time off or not working as hard as they should do. This can quickly spread to other workers, who feel resentment towards how much someone else is getting away with, which will either cause them to become de-motivate or to try and emulate the liberties taken.
One of the main objectives and reasons for providing business coaching to a worker is to assist them in overcoming the barriers which are holding them back and preventing their development within their job role and the company.
Working with the coach, whether it is an external business coach or a manager within the organisation who has a qualification such as the ILM Level 5 Coaching qualification, the employee should greatly enhance their contribution, effectiveness and overall importance to the company, thereby enhancing their chances of promotion and advancement.
However there will be some employees who do not actually desire promotion as they are quite happy doing the job role they are currently doing for the wages they are receiving and do not really want anything to change. So is business coaching suitable for these employees?
Whilst they may be resistant to change, these workers are often extremely good at what they do but do not seek out new challenges, instead dutifully completing the tasks they are given or their routine daily/weekly/monthly requirements. Although business coaching may not turn them into promotion-hungry monsters hell-bent on getting all the way to the top of the management hierarchy, it may encourage them to seek a little bit more diversity or responsibility at work. It may even be possible to persuade them to assist less-experienced workers and provide coaching and mentoring to them so that they can benefit from their knowledge and experience of the industry if they have worked in it for many years.
The key to getting the best out of these employees from business coaching is to take small steps and not try to introduce too many changes too quickly, otherwise they are likely to put up a guard and resist everything. By taking things slowly and assigning them related tasks rather than ones which are completely new to them, a manager can get more out of those employees who are not actively seeking personal development and promotion at work.
When undertaking business coaching, a good coach will realise and understand that techniques need to be adapted in order to bring out the best in various individuals. Each person being coached will be different, in so far as they will respond differently to various coaching methods.
A significant element of business coaching, or indeed any form of coaching, is the establishment of a relationship and rapport between the coach and the person being coached. In order to have an open and frank discussion about the problems and issues which are affecting the individual, that person must have a certain level of trust in the coach, so that they trust the coach not to discuss what has been said with others at the company, especially as the other people may also be receiving coaching later on with the same coach.
One of the greatest advantages of bringing in an external business coach is their impartiality and neutrality in the discussions. They will not have pre-conceived ideas of the company and its issues, nor will they have friendships or bonds to anybody there which could prevent those being coached talking openly and honestly about things which are holding them back from achieving objectives and realising their full potential.
People will vary in how they respond to attempts to motivate them. For some, a tough stance and firm pushing will fire them up into action, whereas others may be extremely resistant to this method of motivation and can become defiant, making them even less productive. These types are likely to respond better to a softer, more gentle approach which aims to empower them to take responsibility for themselves rather than being ordered what to do. This is often referred to as the carrot or the stick approach, and is similar to McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y of management.
Providing business coaching to a person or employee will often involve giving negative feedback. Whilst some may embrace the feedback, particularly if they respect the coach/manager and are keen to learn from them, others are likely to resent being given what they perceive to be criticism, and so are likely to become defensive.
When this happens, or more preferably, before the person becomes defensive in the first place, it is important that the coach retains control of the coaching session and prevents it from turning into an argument or shouting match as this will benefit nobody. In order to do this a good business coach will not only ensure that they deliver constructive negative feedback with specific examples rather than simple generic criticism, but that they will also keep their tone of voice calm and with a sense of willingness to help. If the feedback is delivered with a tone that contains anger or is given in a condescending or belittling way it is highly probable that it will get the person's back up and cause them to go on the defensive. If this happens they are far less likely to take on board the points which the coach or manager is making and so will not be able to alter their future behaviour or actions in accordance with what is being said to them.
Just as with all business coaching sessions, a meeting where feedback is given should end with a positive outcome, with the employee taking on board the points and then working with the coach to develop an action plan and targets which they can then set about implementing when they are back in the workplace. It will be up to the skill of the business coach to ensure that this outcome occurs.
We saw in the article The Why and How of Business Coaching that business coaching is more suited to developing interpersonal skills, work ethic and in identifying issues which are holding the person back rather than providing a learning environment to try and impart technical knowledge or provide specific training on a particular subject.
When it comes to training and development, it is vitally important that a delegate has the willingness and desire to learn and take in the information being taught by the course tutor. Without this openness to learn, a lot of the valuable information will not be absorbed and is likely to be missed entirely if the individual's concentration begins to wander.
Those who have a true desire to reach the top and advance their career significantly will realise the importance of training to gain as much knowledge about their particular field and subject as possible. This involves consistently attending training sessions, principally refresher training to maintain their skills and knowledge, and also being receptive to ideas and methods which they feel an initial disagreement and aversion to, as it may be the case that there is in fact a way of working or idea which the person never even considered before which could prove extremely useful and valuable to them in the near or long term.
People who believe they know all there is to know will often find that they plateau in their career advancement. It often leads to arrogance also, which can come across in dealings with colleagues and even managers and superiors, which can further hamper the person's chances of advancing in the company hierarchy.
There could be a misconception that those who have been deemed to require business coaching by their manager, and as such individual attention, are somehow seriously failing in the job. After all, if they need to receive one-on-one attention then they must be doing a terrible job, right? The answer is nearly always no.
A manager who has decided to invest the time and monetary resources on arranging or providing business coaching sessions to that individual obviously sees that they have potential and have an existing skill level and attitude which warrants further development. If they saw absolutely no future with the business for that particular worker then they would simply dismiss them.
Rather than being terrible workers with a multitude of problems and issues which need fixing, those who receive business coaching usually only require it in one or two areas. A typical profile of those who are provided with business coaching sessions is actually one of an extremely talented worker who has encountered one or two issues which are holding them back at work and preventing them from achieving their full potential and effectiveness in the workplace.
So rather than being lost causes, the employees who are selected to receive business coaching are amongst the most valuable to the organisation.
As mentioned above, these employees are likely to be extremely talented, but can have certain issues which need tackling.
For instance, an employee may be a highly effective salesperson who delivers essential revenue streams for the company, but is terrible at completing and submitting the necessary paperwork associated with it. As a result, it causes major delays in the administration process, and a poor reputation for the company as orders are not processed correctly and mistakes are made. The employee is obviously important for the business and someone whom they wish to keep, but they must improve upon the administration side of things.
A traditional training course is unlikely to make much of a difference. What is required is business coaching on an individual basis, where the consequences of the salesperson not filling in the paperwork are explained, and how it adversely affects the company. Once they understand and accept the importance of this, a tailored action plan can be devised for the person to make changes and improve in these areas. The end result will be an employee who is much more effective in terms of their overall contribution to the achievement of the company's goals and objectives.
Often these issues start out as minor grumbles which, when left unchecked, grow to become major problems that are difficult to change.
In the example above, what may have started out as a day or two's delay in handing in the paperwork has grown to such as extent that the salesperson no longer believes that it is an important part of their job role.
This scenario is typical of many different types of issues, and shows that business coaching does not need to have to wait for a problem to be a major disruption before it is engaged; it can be used to iron out minor problems before they become too disruptive.
Whether it is financial, a desire to be challenged or indeed many of the other numerous reasons that a person has for coming to work or, more specifically, choosing and staying in a position, employees will have needs which need to be met in order for them to be motivated. Similarly, the employer themselves will have requirements and expectations which required them to hire the person or people in the first place.
These criteria also need to be satisfied in order for the business to function successfully in a way which allows it to achieve its short-term and long-term objectives. The utilisation of business coaching will give both parties a much clearer idea regarding what the other expects/requires, which will then allow for the creation of action plans to either start to fulfil or improve upon what is already being done.
Both sides can suffer a range of feelings and emotions if the other is not satisfying these needs. These can include resentment, disgruntlement, dissatisfaction, anger, unhappiness and restlessness.
An employer/manager may begin to feel that there are potential employees out there who will do a better job of fulfilling the requirements and expectations of the company, which can result in the existing employee losing their job.
An employee who does not feel that their needs are being met will likely become extremely de-motivated and unproductive, and will more than likely be searching for another job elsewhere. This means that they will certainly not be giving their all to assist the company achieve its targets.
This situation can all too often lead to arguments, a standoff and a perpetual decline in both the relationship between management and the employee, along with the motivation and amount/quality of the work produced by the worker. But it does not have to be this way.
Just as many conflicts and disagreements can be resolved through dialogue and discussion, the use of business coaching will provide a forum for an honest exchange of views and a greater understanding of what each party requires from the other. Not only this, they should be able to see things from the other side's point of view, which may lead to them redefining their expectations.
A number of business coaching articles such as this one describe how making use of questioning techniques gets employees to begin thinking of solutions to problems and queries themselves without automatically heading straight for the manager every time and asking them for clarification or what to do about it. Having employees deal competently with issues themselves weans them off dependency on the manager who can then get on with their own work and feel more confident whenever they have to go out of the office.
However, as well as coaching employees to get into the mindset of answering questions and dealing with issues themselves, a critical element of this is them having the knowledge in the first place in order to deal effectively with the issues.
For example, it would be unfair to ask them to suggest ways in which to improve the health and safety culture of the business or their particular department if they have had little to no health and safety training or obtained a recognised health and safety qualification like the NEBOSH General Certificate. In this instance they would need to receive the appropriate training to give them the knowledge which would enable them to make practical suggestions and deal with associated issues.
Along with knowledge, the employee may also need certain skills or experience in an area before it can be deemed appropriate for them to answer certain questions and tasked to develop ideas and handle related issues by themselves without relying on management input to assist them.
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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