A few decades ago, a company actively investing in employee learning initiatives, would have been absurd to hear of. Moreover, but it would not have been surprising to see the management actively discouraging these kinds of initiatives in fear of increasing attrition and decreasing productivity. This was because most jobs before the digital era were tied to the ability to perform physical labor. Cars were assembled manually instead of high-precision robot arms, buildings were made by men laying one brick at a time instead of heavy-duty cranes and AutoCAD, and shops were stocked, maintained, and serviced by shopkeepers instead of online, location-less e-commerce stores that send products directly to the customer right from the warehouse of the manufacturer.
Today, the coin has flipped. Most jobs today require brainpower more than physical strength. This shift has forced employers to throw their old opinions out of the window and embrace new realities to keep their business competitive and efficient. If employers are not actively investing in their employee learning and development programs, they are willingly giving up their competitive edge – it is as simple as that. Therefore, to stay relevant in this highly competitive market that exists today in most industries, the management must realize the importance of keeping employees vitalized with new information and a nurturing environment.
It is often a natural tendency for management to tell people what to do. This gets in the way of progress. Instead, managers may ask their employees how they can help them achieve their goals. Although employees are aware of what the business requires, a manager must coach them individually to help them achieve and surpass their goals. The one-management-style-fits-all model is prone to do more harm than good in the long run. One of the biggest benefits of having a well-defined coaching culture is that it enables people to get excited about their contributions to their projects. This is because it feels more authentic when compared to the traditional method of blindly following orders.
One of the biggest disadvantages of not having a coaching culture is that employees quickly start realizing the lack of momentum. They start feeling that their team, career, and life are not moving forward. Everything seems stagnant and repetitive. However, when coaching and learning are encouraged by the management, employees feel more challenged, validated, and accepted. With more time, the trickle-down effect eventually sets in where your employees start motivating and mentoring their colleagues, which brings in more customers, and a culture of coaching and mentoring is set in motion in an organic fashion.
Also Read: An Alarming Trend in Employee Behavior
FEW TIPS ON HOW TO BE A GREAT COACH
Coaching is a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned. It takes some time to learn it, without a doubt, but once learned, it can be used in any situation, life-long. According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Wall Street Journal's bestseller book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, nine out of every ten top performers in any given field will have high emotional intelligence. Coincidentally, one of the most significant advantages of getting good at coaching is that it increases your emotional intelligence to a point where you can effortlessly and efficiently manage your emotions as well as the emotions of other people in your team. Therefore, this is a skill you must possess if you aim to take your and your team’s performance to the next level and keep it there.
- ASK OPEN-ENDED, EMPOWERING QUESTIONS: There are many different ways to ask the same question. Always choose a way that will get you the maximum amount of information. Once you receive that information, don’t hesitate to dig deeper by asking follow-up questions. For example, if you are in a meeting with your team and you want inputs on setting up an incentive program, ask for suggestions, then start digging deep into each suggestion with “Why’s” and “How’s”. By asking such questions, you open up your ability to understand each situation, each action at a very fundamental level. This not only increases your level of understanding but also helps you coach your team better because of your ability to see the full picture.
- VALIDATE AND ACKNOWLEDGE: Multiple studies over the years have shown that active listening, which leads to making people feel heard, has a tremendously positive effect on the mental well-being of such people. You can try the reverse of this thought experiment on yourself right now. Try and think hard; when was the last time you felt ecstatic, content, and motivated when you told/asked someone something, expecting a response in return, but that person ignored you without a care in the world? Did you experience overwhelming joy? Or was it anger, discouragement, and confusion? Acknowledging and validating the thoughts and opinions of your peers and subordinates is therefore vital to your process of becoming a great coach.
- NON-BIASED APPROACH, ALWAYS: Passing on a quick judgment can be viewed as a basic survival mechanism in human behavior. Imagine our ancestors some 70,000 years ago, resting at night after a long day of hunting and gathering. They hear a faint rustling of leaves in the distance. A sense of quick judgment would have made them jump out of their beds with spears in their hands, ready to defend an attack, no matter if it is a pack of predators or a small poisonous snake, or just the wind. A sense of quick judgment saved lives back then. Today, this innate ability to pass on judgment too quickly does more harm than good. If you happen to make people feel that you judge too quickly, they will take mental notes of this behavior and might even get defensive the next time they talk to you about something. This defeats the purpose of coaching. On the contrary, when you refrain from passing judgment before all the facts are in, it creates a sense of trust and motivates your team members to confide in you and ask your opinion for guidance.
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