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Tagged: employee coaching

Managers Should Encourage Employee Feedback

August 31, 2017

Managers and directors do a lot of talking, and rightly so. Their career experience puts them in positions where they provide instruction to their staff, lead employee evaluations and create strategic visions for the future of their companies. Despite their need to lead through direction, great managers listen carefully to their employees. They utilize feedback from staff to drive progress, and trust the judgment of their staff to make smart decisions.

coaching

To leverage the knowledge junior staff hold, managers must create an environment

where two-way communication is encouraged. Most office environments try to create a culture of open communication, but the difficulties of any business (personality clashes, revenue struggles, etc.) can damage those lines of communication. When employees feel their career progress may be at risk, due to a stubborn superior or concerns about layoffs, they put their heads down and work hard, rather than offering constructive criticism of the company. They want to appear as team players, and keep ideas to themselves out of

fear of appearing dissident or negative. This breakdown in communication misses an abundance of opportunity and ideas, which would otherwise make the company more efficient and profitable:

Blind Spots

Often, managers can’t be as detail-oriented in their work as junior staff members. Individuals with highly-specified roles know certain business processes inside and out. In turn, if there is an inefficiency or problem with those processes, junior staff tend to know about it (and usually complain about it to each other) first. Managers need to make sure those complaints are brought to their attention, and ensure that opportunities to improve reach their desks. Otherwise, those issues go unchanged and leave junior staff frustrated.

Office Morale

Companies that communicate poorly often see a “communication divide” arise between staff and management. Typically, management is happy with the company direction and sees a positive financial outlook, while the rest of the staff feel overworked and negated from the profitability their hard work achieves. This animosity creates a toxic culture, divided between staff and management, and management can sometimes be oblivious to those issues if staff only vocalize their dissatisfaction to each other. Mangers need to make sure their staff feels safe in expressing grievances when they arise.

Innovation

The biggest folly of arrogance managers can make is assuming that good ideas must come from the top. Some of the most successful companies designate time for employees to pursue long-term, innovative projects that will create new revenue channels or huge efficiencies for the company. A good starting point for managers to create a culture of innovation is to regularly remind employees that new ideas are encouraged and welcomed. The sheer number of junior staff members (compared to managers), combined with the specificity of their work (detail-oriented) creates a major opportunity for innovation managers can’t afford to forego.

Occupation-Specific Trials and Tribulations

Depending on their roles within the company, different employees experience different perks and hardships. A call center representative may struggle with difficult customers, while a data analyst may long for more social interaction. Each job role is different, and managers need to understand the intricacies of the different job roles. When they understand the pros and cons of working within a specific department/role, they understand how to communicate with the department and comprehend what’s top-of-mind for those employees when they think about progress and goals.

Individualized Coaching

Above all else, employee feedback is the greatest coaching tool a manager can have. Understanding an individual’s perspective helps the manager tailor their coaching, address the employee’s concerns and create a better sense of camaraderie. If an employee doesn’t voice their opinions, training and coaching may feel irrelevant and the manager’s goals won’t gain the same respect as goals that are mutually created between employee and manager. Individuals are complex, and good managers appreciate that an employee is also a whole person with unique needs. In a sense, two-way communication can be a self-serving endeavor for the savvy manager: taking the veil away from what their employees are thinking streamlines a manager’s work and helps them address the root of their employees’ needs in the most efficient way possible.

Good Coaches Should Inform, Not Condescend

August 24, 2017

Managers and directors must be good coaches. The very nature of managing a staff team requires those in charge to make individuals within the team more skilled, smarter, and happier due to career satisfaction. Unfortunately, some managers fail to handle teaching moments with grace and sensitivity, and leave their employees feeling like a failed performer, rather than a valuable member of the team.

The reality is that high performers often rise to positions of management, and these same individuals sometimes lack the soft skills necessary to be a good coach. In a sense, they need to be coached on how to be a good coach. Coaching is a difficult skill that requires a sense of compassion, awareness, critical thinking and creativity. Simply put, a good coach should build employees up, rather than breaking them down. Here are some approaches managers should keep in mind when coaching opportunities arise:

Solution-Oriented Discussions

Every good discussion between management and staff should focus on a common goal that is desirable for both parties. Establishing a common desire and end goal helps align thinking and shifts the conversation in a way that is collaborative for the employee. This collaboration empowers employees to feel like partners in their own success, as well as the company’s. 

Inviting Employee Feedback

By creating a collaborative environment, managers create opportunities for employees to share experiences and opinions the managers might not otherwise see. Often, employees feel forced to tell white lies out of fear of sounding like they have bad attitudes. When there are legitimate issues with business processes or approaches, employees are often afraid to point them out due to fear of appearing to make excuses. When this happens, management misses out on key learning moments that might be holding the company back. It’s incredibly important for employees to feel comfortable expressing dissatisfaction with certain processes in place so that managers hear about blind spots they might not independently identify.

Specific Actions Instead of Vague Ideas

A good coach should always focus on specific actions employees can take to improve. Without clear directions, employees leave constructive feedback meetings with anxiety and agitation, rather than clarity and purpose. The more specific a manager can be, the more likely the employee will change behavior and feel confident in her/his actions.

A Pathway to Success, Rather Than Repercussions for Failure

When employees receive criticism, their big-picture concerns come to mind very quickly. They worry about job security, finances and the stability of their homes. Managers need to diffuse this sentiment by explaining how constructive feedback sets employees up for long term success. Instead of being concernedabout job security, employees should have confidence that their job security will be enhanced by coaching sessions. They should feel they can bring more value to the company and become a better, more important employee as a result.

Measurable, Small and Meaningful Goals Set by Coaches

Once employees feel comfortable and have specific actions they can take to improve, there should be a plan of action for them to gradually improve. Giving employees small, modest goals makes those improvements achievable and gives them something realistic to work toward. Coaches should explain how these small improvements are valuable, and follow up with praise when employees show concrete improvement.

When working with employees, managers should always give staff members the benefit of the doubt. People almost unanimously show up to work with the intention of performing well, and managers need to maintain this mindset, rather than doubting their team members. Business is highly personal, and points of constructive criticism are most effective when framed in the context of helping, rather than hurting, employees. Managers who do this well see low turnover, high performance and company culture that is built on a solid foundation of trust.

Are you coaching your employees across these three categories?

July 18, 2017

 

Coaching employees is an essential step in creating a positive work culture. Happy employees need opportunities for continuous improvement and a chance to thrive in their roles. Strong customer experience relies on good coaching and training, and managers themselves must work on improving their own skills as a good coach to ensure the success of their work environments.

In a productive work environment, managers find coaching opportunities in day-to-day interactions, looking for teachable moments to help employees improve the way they work. In addition, periodic reviews and one-on-one sessions create an important two-way dialogue between managers and employees to help create a mutually developed plan for improvement.

However, quarterly reviews and pats on the back aren’t enough to make lasting business improvements. Managers need to consider the category of feedback they give, and if they are coaching the holistic employee. An employee may be great in meetings with clients, but struggle internally to keep their work organized. A different employee may have incredible technical skills, but come off as abrasive during when interacting with colleagues. Coaching needs to cover different categories, and hitting these different categories of employee performance helps create a more complete business professional. Business professionals benefit from comprehensive coaching feedback and, consequently, continue to develop as high performers.

Technical

Often, technical learning falls on the side of training, rather than coaching. Employees work in a group setting to learn the skills needed to do their jobs well. Despite this, managers can help coach the overall learning experience. Good coaches should help their employees self-reflect by asking them what skills they excel at, which the struggle with and how the manager and employee can work together to create a work environment where everyone feels successful. Managers give perspective to technical learning by explaining its importance to the employee and placing it in the context of the business. Moreover, managers help point employees in the right direction of help and support to improve technical skills. If an employee wants more assistance, managers either have an opportunity to give instruction or find someone within the company who can provide the most useful instruction.

Interpersonal

Employees need guidance on interpersonal skills, and this category is particularly important for coaching since it receives such little formal training. Mangers have years of experience and have worked with hundreds of professionals, so they tend to be able to identify an employee’s interpersonal strengths and weaknesses. When an employee’s interpersonal skills are strong, their ideas and contributions tend to shine because they know how to present their ideas in a digestible, constructive manner. When a manager coaches interpersonal skills across an organization, the business environment thrives and office cohesion results in great customer satisfaction.

Organizational

Great product/service delivery relies on planning, revision, adjustment and time for contemplation. When an employee has time to do all of this, he or she can deliver the best work possible. The only way to have enough time for these different activities is through organizational skills. Great work requires advanced planning and building in time for unexpected requests. Unfortunately, organizational skills tend to be under-coached. Managers try not to micromanage their employees and want to show flexibility by acknowledging that individuals have their own methods of working. However, managers have career experience, and are required, by the managerial nature of the job title, to be highly organized. Coaches should give employees enough independence that they feel respected, but also offer suggestions for getting work done in a more efficient, organized way. Advice on how to organize calendars, block out individual days and stay abreast with many simultaneous tasks/projects is invaluable information for less-experienced employees.

Next time you consider the way you coach employees, think about the different topics you cover in your coaching sessions. How comprehensive is your coaching? Are you only covering specific technical skills in your coaching style, or are you cultivating the entire employee? Great service delivery requires great professionals, and professionals can’t be great unless they continuously improve a diverse set of technical, interpersonal and organizational skills. By evaluating their own coaching approaches, managers can accelerate the learning process for their employees and turn junior staff members into multi-talented professionals who will innovate and drive business.

Unhappy employees put your customers at risk



Employee engagement is an important part of any business, but its importance extends beyond feel-good factors. Sometimes, the business world speaks about employee satisfaction as a non-essential element of business. There is an impression that employers should strive for good employee satisfaction, but if employees aren’t entirely happy, the bottom line still must be met and everyone will go home satisfied enough with their paychecks.

bad customer service

However, employee satisfaction has bottom-line revenue effects. Satisfied employees feel invested in their companies, have a sense of mutual destiny with the companies they work for and approach their job roles with creativity and drive to improve. Conversely, dissatisfied employees run the risk of not only feeling unhappy, but channeling that unhappiness into behaviors that worsen customers’ experience and satisfaction.

No matter the strength of a business plan, most companies rely on a multitude of employees to execute those plans. Troubled employees jeopardize the health of their businesses in the following ways:

Lack of attention to detail

Unhappy employees tend to be highly focused on their status and personal underachievement in their job role. They worry about their own performance, and sometimes feel like a scapegoat when things go wrong. Managers should be concerned about this mindset because it distracts from the wants and needs of clients. The self-focused employee always struggles to go above-and-beyond for clients, and tends to miss specific detail-oriented tasks, which are often distinguishing factors between a business and its competitors.

Missed opportunity for development 

Any good company tries to improve its employees through training, but the employee’s own commitment to improvement is equally, if not more, important for results. A continuous cycle of improvement and promotion is important for so many reasons: It improves longevity of employees within a business, incentivizes other staff members through example and creates a culture where employees are striving to excel in their roles, rather than simply treading water. Unmotivated employees, and their employers, miss out on this development cycle and hurt the culture of achievement within the workplace.

Apathy to customer success

Praise and positive feedback are important for employees to receive not only from their managers, but from their clients. Without positive feedback from clients, employees can slip into a state of feeling that their work isn’t valuable. When they don’t see the value of their work, they feel less inclined to overachieve in the future, unsure of the impact of their hard work. Clients suffer as a result, and may turn to competitors or reduce their business with the company.

Lack of connection to company bottom line

Perhaps the most profound effect of employee dissatisfaction is the feeling of separation an excluded employee feels toward the company’s financial standing. Connected employees feel personally responsible for improving the profitability of a company because they assume their efforts will be rewarded. If an employee isn’t incentivized or doesn’t feel included, the employee assumes that any success the company experiences will pass them by. They don’t anticipate company success to reward them, personally. Employees must feel connected to their companies and understand that their own career success is synonymous with the success of the business.

While it’s sometimes tempting as managers to become frustrated with employee complaints, it’s important to understand the reasons behind those complaints. It’s even more important to be able to identify unspoken dissatisfaction in the workplace and approach dissatisfaction with a solution-oriented mindset. Individuals are responsible for their own happiness, but managers can impact the culture of the workplace, and must do so to protect their clients, revenues and long term trajectories of their businesses.

3 Steps to Coaching Employees Using Performance Reports

June 15, 2016

Customers often base their opinion of a company on their service experience, so you want yours to be top-notch. Proper training helps employees achieve customer service goals, which in turn provides motivation to continue doing well and to keep improving.

As you embark on coaching your employees to make your customer service experience even better, you want the training to be as effective as possible. The three-step approach below can help, combined with using employee performance reports that can guide you in knowing where to start the conversation, and what to address first.

To set up your employee performance training as a roadmap for success and help your employees achieve optimal performance, follow these steps during your coaching sessions:

1. Prioritize issues.

Avoid piling up a laundry list of all areas for improvement at once. Rather, start with the top issue that will help your employee improve customer experience the most.

manager development trainingEmployee performance reports can be used to analyze information that is customized to each employee. CSP provides several such reports. One that is useful in helping to identify priorities is the CSP Evaluation Summary report. This report can uncover patterns with its performance and satisfaction scores, and can quickly point out trends in an employee’s performance.

The Performance Criteria Scores by
Employee report presents all criteria questions for all employees at once. It can be filtered by employee and date, and can show if the coaching is leading to an improvement in scores.

Or use the Performance Issues report to see all criteria scores and which ones are scoring the lowest. Are your employees consistently introducing themselves to your customers? Are they using the customer’s name? This report breaks down each behavior with percentages to give you an easy-to-read chart that also can be explored in-depth if needed.

Focusing on one issue at a time helps you hone in on a single aspect of performance that you can come back to in the future, as part of an overall evaluation of your employees’ responsibilities and expectations.

2. Investigate causes.

Is coaching and training the appropriate response to an employee’s performance? To find this out, analyze the performance areas that are below expectation. Determining the root cause for low performance will help you establish next steps with your employee.

Once you have used the Performance Issues report to identify the area needing improvement, identify the cause for it. Is the performance problem due to awareness, resources, ability, or effort?

Use the chart below to review the actions most appropriate to each root cause:

Root Cause Action
Lack of awareness Re-communicate expectations and priorities
Lack of resources Help the employee secure the needed resources
Lack of ability Coach and train the employee to improve their knowledge and skills
Lack of effort Motivate or take disciplinary action
3. Give constructive feedback.

Your analysis using the CSP reports will not only have revealed opportunities for improvement, but also areas of strength. Use these reports to guide you in the feedback you provide to your employees. Positive feedback strengthens performance and motivates employees to continue providing good customer service or improve upon past performance. Keep these tips in mind when providing feedback:

  • Feedback should be balanced, touching on both strengths and weaknesses.
  • People learn differently so find a variety of resources to help each employee meet his or her individual goals.
  • To get the most value, both positive and constructive feedback should not be a one-time conversation, but an ongoing discussion.

Following these steps and incorporating reports such as those offered by CSP will allow you to continue increasing employee engagement. Help take your team to the next level when you take advantage of these tools and watch your employee performance soar.


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