Many of the world’s corporations today suffer from low employee morale and productivity, which lead to poor-quality products and services, and higher costs. This is because managers today in most corporations lack the listening, feedback, and delegation skills needed to enhance employee commitment and improve productivity.
Successful organizations today must have managers who motivate and inspire their employees, not beat them down. Successful managers must see themselves not just as bosses, but as performance coaches. A manager must be able to provide employee training, help employees enhance their careers, and mentor them to become the best they can be.
A company’s workforce must be nurtured and developed. It’s not enough to throw training at employees and hope for the best. Yet this is what many organizations do. For example, employee training and development is not tied to the organization’s business objectives. It is often conducted in a vacuum, unrelated to problems facing the organization. As a result, employees don’t receive the training they need to perform adequately.
In many organizations, training results are considered less important than the activity itself. Organizations pump out training courses and are satisfied as long as employees attend. Whether employees retain anything, or can apply what they’ve learned to the job, is immaterial. It’s the activity, not the results, that count.
Coaching is a philosophy in developing people. It’s based on the hands-on experience and on-the-job knowledge of you, the manager, not textbook or theoretical training conducted by training professionals.
Unlike training professionals, you must be focused on the company’s business objectives. As a coach, you need to make sure that employees receive on-target training relevant to those objectives. You are also accountable for the performance of employees being trained. Thus, for you it’s results that count, not the training activity. No more training just for training sake.
Coaching also means breaking up training into small units that last only a few hours. This eliminates launching a tidal wave of information at employees that they forget as soon as they step out of the classroom. But coaching isn’t just about training. It’s also about developing the full potential of employees, helping to identify and grow the personality and performance strengths that will make them better employees.
For many managers, training and coaching employees is just another task to be added to their already overflowing agenda. For this reason most organizations view employee development as an activity irrelevant to the job they must accomplish. They see it as an investment of their time with no return. This way of thinking is wrong. Because coaching will create employees who are confident and ambitious, and this will give you a tremendous return on your investment, which will in turn get results.
In traditional organizations that were part of the Industrial Age, professional trainers were people skilled in learning theory, program design, delivery, and were responsible for training. But in the new organizations of the Information Age, managers are ultimately accountable for employee performance, productivity, and the training of employees.
Successful coaching begins with performing the task of the manager-trainer better. To do this managers must have both knowledge and experience in the subject they are teaching. You have to convince employees that you know what you’re talking about. And employees want to know that what they’re learning comes from real-life situations, not books or company reports.
To learn, employees must pay attention to what is being taught. One of the most effective ways to keep employee’s attention is by using diversionary methods such as games or exercises. Employees are thus learning without making any special effort to concentrate on the learning process. Always conduct your training in plain, intelligent, and understandable language.
Training must be tied to a frame of reference that employees can understand. The new material must be associated to something the employee is familiar with, such as an experience, a related topic, or a mastered process. The material must be applicable to the job, and the employee must know how to apply it for training to be truly effective.
The best learning process challenges employees to study for themselves. Don’t just hand information over. Make the material exciting enough to stimulate employees to seek out, understand, and master the information. The acquired material will then be more memorable than if it is simply received on a platter.
Review the material to make sure that employees fully understand it, and know how to apply it to their jobs. At the end of the training, both the trainer and the employees should be evaluated. Different evaluations should measure how much employees learned, their attitudes toward training as a result of the training sessions they just had, and the impact of the training on employee performance and organizational objectives.
The primary purpose of coaching is to help employees consider alternatives and make decisions regarding their careers. While this is clearly beneficial to the employee, coaching also helps the organization by getting the right person in the right job. It prevents organizations from investing too much time and money in employees who are not suited for certain jobs or responsibilities.
Coaches are able to identify deficiencies in employees and find strategies to help them overcome these deficiencies, through training, reading, and research. It also highlights advancement possibilities for employees, encouraging them to stay with the organization.
To be a successful coach, employees must be willing to confide in you. There must be a climate of open communication between you and your employees. It is only in this type of climate that employees will speak fearlessly and comfortably about issues affecting their jobs and careers. But, a positive communications climate has to be more than paying “my door is always open” lip service. Employees have to believe that you are sincerely concerned for their well being.
Once you’ve created an open environment, the stage is set for you to have a good coaching program in place. Now’s the time to call on your interpersonal communication. Such as, showing empathy, understanding, and creating trust in employees. You have to be an active listener, in which you are more interested in what employees have to say than in hearing your own voice, and questioning to clarify employee comments, not get in the drivers seat.
To be a good coach you must be able to reflect on what employees have said, paraphrasing, clarifying, interpreting, or summarizing their feelings and thoughts. Once you have summarized employees thoughts and feelings, you can then determine the most appropriate next steps to follow.
One of the most important parts of coaching is creating a mentoring relationship with your employees. Mentoring allows you to share your experiences with your employees and help them achieve the same level of success as you. As they benefit from your experience, they avoid the mistakes that can set back or ruin their careers.
Mentoring helps employees adjust to the organizational culture and fit in. It also helps you become a caring, sympathetic, and patient manager. You learn to listen to the fears and frustrations of your employees, as well as their successes. In addition, mentoring can increase your motivation and enthusiasm toward your career as you help employees walk the same path you followed.
To become a good mentor you have to create a network of contacts with various departments and hierarchical levels. This will provide you with knowledge about the organization’s history, philosophy, and strategic direction that you need to give to your employees. You also have to allow freedom so that your employees are exposed to different values, beliefs, and goals that are necessary to help them grow. Give your employees the freedom of choice, while making sure the chosen mentor has the necessary qualifications.
For a mentoring relationship to be successful there must be personal chemistry between managers and employees. The best mentoring relationships go beyond the strict goals of mentoring. They enhance and encourage the confidence and creativity of both the manager who is guiding the employee and the employee who is learning how to succeed.
Becoming a good coach takes both time and effort. You have to build close, open relationships with your workers slowly. And, you have to learn the techniques to be an effective trainer and mentor. Before you decide you don’t have time for coaching, ask yourself: Do you want to get the least from unhappy workers? Or do you want to be a manager of the future, laying the groundwork for the success of your employees, and your company. The choice is yours.
Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many of America’s largest corporations, on the subjects of leadership, self-esteem, goals, achievement, and success psychology.
Reach Joe at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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