Learning & Development, Talent

Why Employee Coaching May Be Your Best Strategy

by Greg Harris, President and CEO of Quantum Workplace

Laurel McDermott, HR business partner at Frontline Education, believes employee coaching isn’t something her team should do every now and then. Instead, her company’s continual coaching approach takes employee learning to a whole new level.coaching

“At Frontline Education, the process of coaching employees is woven into our core values. One value specifically states that we will ‘[i]nvest in our employees through mentoring and professional development,’” said McDermott.

Every day at Frontline Education, employees are motivated to learn, ask questions, and observe their peers—moving them to learn and grow every single day, not just when it’s a mandatory event or task.

McDermott and her team at Frontline Education are giving employees exactly what they need to reach their greatest potential. In fact, Quantum Workplace partnered with Fuel50 in October 2016 to find out exactly what employees wanted out of their employers’ coaching strategies.

Together, in our Coaching Employees For High Performance report, we found 71% of employees who took advantage of learning opportunities were more motivated. What’s even more encouraging, 64% felt more equipped to do their job, 55% felt empowered, and 48% felt ready to take on more responsibility.

As you can see, the power of employee coaching goes far beyond learning something new. Here are more real benefits:

Managers Grow with Employees

When employee coaching comes into a conversation, it’s usually between leaders who want to help employees learn and grow. What they often forget is how much coaching actually affects managers.

When managers understand why coaching and feedback are crucial to employee success, their ability to coach progresses. However, if coaching isn’t implemented in a top-down approach, the process will fall apart.

That’s why Frontline Education has specific training for managers on coaching practices. Their leaders host a quarterly performance review process called “D4G,” or “Discussions for Growth.”

“These quarterly check-ins emphasize with managers the importance of providing ongoing feedback throughout the year,” said McDermott.

While quarterly performance reviews may not fit well with your company culture, it’s important to speak with management on an ongoing basis. Offer mandatory one-on-one meetings to discuss coaching goals and expectations for the upcoming time period. Or sit down in monthly brainstorming sessions to get all managers working together toward one goal: helping employees succeed.

As managers become more involved and hands-on in the coaching strategy, their relationships with employees will grow stronger. Moving toward a cohesive workplace will help the entire company move beyond its expectations.

Employees Become Extraordinary

Adding coaching to your company culture gives your team the necessary tools to go above and beyond. As opposed to letting mistakes or misunderstandings go by the wayside, continual coaching allows for precise execution. Motivating employees beyond their standard performance stops complacent employees from negatively impacting success.

Frontline Education found providing frequent coaching and feedback lets employees know what they’re doing well, or what issues need addressed immediately.

“At Frontline Education, we can see the results of teams and individuals who are constantly provided feedback and learning opportunities from their managers. This has come to fruition through the overall success of the company,” said McDermott.

Our research found employees actually benefit from both. Engagement was 5.6 percentage points higher when employees preferred manager coaching as a form of development, and 8 percentage points higher when they preferred coaching from peers.

In order to help all employees—while also raising engagement—set up a coaching strategy that caters to all learning styles. Have employees rotate between manager-to-employee coaching and peer-to-peer.

Places Focus on Performance Improvement

Sporadic trainings do focus on performance improvement, but only in those few moments throughout the year. Without a formal coaching strategy, employees may end up stuck in a once-a-year improvement rut.

Providing employees with a strong coaching strategy provides motivation to continue striving to be the best, all year long. To ensure this happens at their company, Frontline Education focuses their strategy specifically on performance improvement.

McDermott suggested, “Touch on the misses, but emphasize what needs to change for successes to occur. And don’t forget to highlight the successes and encourage them to continue.”

Encouraging performance improvement can be done in many ways. Some employees respond well to online recognition programs where peers have the opportunity to publicly praise one another for their efforts. Others simply want to hear what they’re doing well and not so well in a one-on-one setting, so they can continue to improve.

What employee coaching strategies do you find most beneficial?

Greg Harris is the President and CEO of Quantum Workplace, a company dedicated to providing every organization with quality engagement tools that guide their next step in making work better every day.