How Coaching Can Save Your Team

Employee engagement and retention are (or should be) top of mind for company leadership and HR teams. Having an engaged workforce means a stronger, more productive company. Unfortunately, only 34% of employees report being fully engaged in their workplace. That said, companies have been spending a lot on this problem. In fact, an estimated three-quarters of a billion dollars, each year.

Obviously, this is a huge issue with many components. Employee development and education, benefits, and company culture all play into the employee experience, which directly impacts retention and engagement.

It’s all about the culture

This issue poses too many factors for business (especially small ones) to address from every vantage point. Most medium and small sized companies have a tight budget set aside for employee experience. But you don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money on perks to create a culture of productivity and engagement. Not surprisingly, 76% of employees cite their manager as the leading influencer of workplace culture.

With that in mind, you’d assume companies are taking advantage of this knowledge and setting up their managers and leaders to be trailblazers for building a happy workforce, right? Sorry, not so much.

A shocking 71% of companies do not feel their leaders are able to actually lead their organization. And we can assume that leaders who are unable to lead are negatively impacting the people they’re supposed to lead.

So, if managers are the major influencing factor in creating company culture, and companies don’t feel they’re doing their job well, it’s time to think about the tools they’re given to accomplish company goals.

How are your managers trained to manage? Do they even get training? Or does your company just promote highly functioning employees into manager roles and let them figure it out on their own?

Training your managers to take a different approach to supervising their teams might just be what your company needs. But how, you ask? By training them to coach instead of manage.

Coaching vs. managing 

The difference between coaching and managing is fairly simple. Where managers:

  • solve problems
  • answer questions
  • delegate tasks
  • evaluate performance

Coaches take a different approach. Instead, they:

  • empower their team to solve their own problems
  • ask questions
  • encourage employee input into how tasks get accomplished
  • urge employees to think critically about their own progress

Coaching also involves continuous conversations back and forth between team members, individuals, and managers. It is a highly effective way to engage your workforce.

Empowering your employees is at the core of why coaching is so effective. By empowering your employees to solve for their own problems, you are showing that you value their opinion and trust their ability to address and overcome challenges. Employees who are given the lead to solve problems become more self-reliant and feel a greater sense of accountability and responsibility, which leads to increased engagement and satisfaction.

Demonstrating trust in your employees to effectively address challenges is a very direct way to help them build on their own self confidence as well. Helping employees grow by creating a culture that nurtures self-confidence and independence is a sure-fire way to make people feel valued. Not to mention a sense of personal growth. 

Building an ongoing dialog between your employees and managers, as well as within their own team, is also a significant part of coaching. Where managers might only speak with individuals before or after a large project or when it comes time for their yearly assessment, coaching encourages a much more fluid form of communication.

Think increased employee recognition and opportunities for development. When there is an ongoing conversation between manager and employee, there is increased opportunity for managers to discover previously unknown strengths and skills that the employee may have. This can lead to employees getting assigned projects that play into their personal strengths and allow them to develop skills they are highly interested in.

Increased communication is also an effective way to suss out employees who are struggling and may need some extra support or direction. Showing that you are paying attention and willing to help guide and support an employee through a difficult time generates loyalty and a sense of safety that people value.

Value for you and them

Coaching is a much more people-focused way of managing your company. There are many different ways to implement coaching within your team and many different types of coaching to consider. By training your managers to coach, you’re not only giving them better tools to nurture a happier, more engaged workforce, but you’re investing in the future of your   by offering more opportunities for personal development and creativity.

So before you consider spending capital on unnecessary toys for the employee rec room, think about whether or not your managers could use training in how to coach their teams to success. Remember, employee experience and culture comes directly from leadership. So give your leaders the tools they need to win, and watch your company win.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
 
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How (NOT) to Deal With Workplace Conflict

Interpersonal conflict is something every workplace has to deal with at some point. When people work in close quarters, there is bound to be some type of friction that comes to the surface and needs to be dealt with. 

Sometimes the people in the conflict are able to work it out themselves. This usually happens if both people are willing and able to sit down with each other and hash things out. However, there are many people who are uncomfortable with directly addressing issues and conflicts and who will do anything to avoid uncomfortable conversations.  

This results in passive aggression, negativity, decreased productivity, and team dysfunction which can spread and begin to negatively affect other employees. Conflicts like these are best solved quickly, and strategically, and often guided by management. 

Unfortunately, if leadership isn’t prepared to handle conflicts correctly, they can have a much greater negative effect on the situation and will end up making it worse for everyone. Here are a couple leadership practices that are guaranteed NOT to succeed in solving a conflict. 

Avoidance 

We know you’re busy. You’ve got a million things on your plate and goals and quotas to meet. So that argument between Tim and Kathy on the production team just doesn’t seem important enough for you to prioritize today. Oh sure, you’ll get to it, but it not today. Maybe tomorrow. Or next week? You’re hoping that maybe by then, it’ll just go away. Spoiler alert: it won’t.  

Avoidance can come in many different forms. For instance, say you’ve talked to Kathy and Tim separately and heard their different sides of the story, but you haven’t yet set up a meeting with both of them together. It might feel like you’ve made some progress after hearing them both initially. People often feel better after they’ve had a chance to get their story out and feel heard. This might have even deflated their frustration for the time being. But it won’t last.  

No one likes to have uncomfortable conversations, and you’re no exception. Being in leadership doesn’t mean you’re automatically exempt from having the same reservations about confrontation as the rest of humanity. You may be a good problem solver and a good listener, but if you just stop at having individual conversations and don’t move forward to confronting the issue together, you’ve halted the healing process.  

Separation 

Keeping people apart when they are fighting might work with children, but it isn’t a sustainable solution for dealing with conflict at the office. Employees must be able to work together and rely on each other as a team. Just trying to give them different projects and hoping they won’t run into something that requires them to work together isn’t going to help you or them in the long run.  

Just listening to their individual stories and sending them in different directions is setting your team up for failure. Plus, it’s setting an unhealthy standard for how your company handles interpersonal conflict.  

It’s better this way 

Unless you take the step to get them talking face-to-face, you’ve just put the problem on hold, not dealt with it. Having a functional, healthy team should be a top priority for any leader. The chances of meeting your goals with a robust team working together are much greater than working with dysfunctional team and their infighting.  

Taking an hour out of your day today to solve a conflict will save you hours of cleanup work later down the road. It’ll also ensure that the conflict doesn’t expand and begin to affect other team members.  

Constructive confrontation = solution 

If you’re uncomfortable with confrontation, or not sure how to go about mitigating the conflict, it helps to go in with a plan.  

  • Structure the conversation so that both parties have their chance to speak and respond to each other  
  • Encourage them to each take accountability  
  • Set the expectation that they will come to a resolution, creating a clear, actionable plan for how they will move forward 
  • Set a follow-up meeting a week or two down the road to help keep everyone accountable  

You may never be comfortable with confrontation, but fortunately, with practice you can get better at successfully dealing with it. The more you set the expectation that conflict will be dealt with in this way, the easier it is to do it. Hopefully, it becomes so ingrained in your company culture that co-workers will begin to do it themselves without the need to bring in leadership to help mitigate the discussion.  

So next time there’s a conflict at the office, don’t hesitate to deal with it then and there. Don’t put it off, don’t avoid the uncomfortable conversation. Show them you believe in their ability to solve the problem themselves by bringing them together to do so. You’ve got this and so do they.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Andrey Popov

 

HR PSA: Sometimes it’s Not Your Problem

You got into HR because you genuinely like helping people. You care about other people’s wellbeing and you see the value in building systems that are mutually beneficial for both individuals and companies. You take pride in being able to listen, empathize, and help people deal with problems. 

But being a people person comes with its own challenges. You want to be able to help everyone, but in HR (and in life) that doesn’t always mean allowing them to bring all their problems to you. You’ve got to balance the needs of the company with the needs of individual workers. That does not mean you’re supposed to be the company therapist.  

Although playing the role of the listener is often a part of being in HR, it isn’t your job to listen to employees complain about each other. There are more productive ways to deal with those issues. 

Constructive Conversations 

When employees approach you to complain about a problem they’re having with someone on their team, or their manager, do a quick evaluation to see if they should be talking with you or if they should be taking the first steps to addressing the issue. 

  • Have they tried to solve the problem themselves? 
  • Do you get the sense they just want to change the other person? 
  • Are they trying to absolve themselves of accountability? 
  • Do they simply want to vent and aren’t interested in coming up with solutions? 

In these cases, they should be exploring other methods of addressing the problem rather than giving it to you. Coaching employees and managers to have constructive conversations on their own is key for teams to run effectively. People need to learn to approach, talk about, and solve problems within their team in a professional manner. 

It might include coaching on key concepts like active listeningmirroring, and how to create value from a conversation. Unless it is a matter of safety, such as harassment, this should be the first step anyone takes when dealing with an interpersonal problem at work.  

If your company culture pushes people into the arms of HR before they’ve tried addressing the problem themselves, some changes may be in order. Take steps toward adjusting the company culture around internal problem solving and empowering people to address some level of challenges on their own. 

Need extra support? 

Empowering people to manage their own concerns and disputes is a great way to develop a team. However, sometimes employees are dealing with something much larger than an interpersonal issue.  

Problems stemming from mental illness, grief, or trauma are common and can go unknown to teammates. It may be manifesting itself in disagreements with other coworkersnegativity, and decreased engagement. HR may be the right answer to help in these situations, and you’ll need to take the time to uncover the real issue.  

But often personal problems like this need extra assistanceSome companies have employee assistance programs (EAPs) that are designed to help with these issues. Having an EAP and pointing employees to these services may be especially useful if there was a recent event involving workplace violence or harassment.  

There are other resources outside of your company you can tap into to help deal with a problem that is beyond the capacity of HR. It’s important to be familiar with them so you can make informed recommendations for whats needed to help maintain workplace health. 

Here are some supporting resources you can tap into: 

  • Hire a coach to come work with your team 
  • Offer inperson or overthephone counseling options to employees 
  • Have a list of hotlines you can reference for employees struggling with personal issues 

Saying no 

Learning to say no to people approaching HR with the wrong problems can be difficult, especially when your first instinct is to help. But sometimes it’s necessary—although it doesn’t mean that the problem goes ignored. 

When you send someone away to deal with a problem themselves, and you give them the tools to do so, you are challenging them to take accountability for their situation and assume a leadership role in addressing the issue. You are empowering them by teaching them how to deal with future workplace challenges and showing them they have the ability to solve it on their own. You’re also taking a lot of unnecessary work off your plate. It’s a winwin.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Dmitrii Shironosov 

  

Your Employee Handbook: Beyond Rules and Regulations

 

You know it’s important for businesses to have an employee handbook, but you may be wondering how having one in place can benefit both you and your employees.

Beyond spelling out company policies and rules, a well-written employee handbook can be a very useful workplace tool for both employers and employees. Some of the things it can do may even surprise you!

Here are a couple of unexpected ways this document can facilitate business growth and help you recruit and retain employees. 

A tool to manage growth

When companies are very small or just starting out, it’s easier to set and manage expectations, self-police behavior, and maintain a cohesive company culture.

As businesses grow and evolve, these things become exponentially more difficult and the need to formalize organizational policies, systems, and expectations becomes much more critical.

An effective employee handbook will clearly outline essential business processes such as behavior standards, safety information, leave policies, anti-discrimination policies, compensation, and employee benefits.

Clarifying HR processes can significantly reduce the amount of time spent going back and forth to resolve employee issues and misunderstandings. This can be especially important for small businesses, where both time and resources are scarce. Your employee handbook will also promote consistency in how employees are treated, helping to keep your business in compliance and out of court.

A culture enhancer

In addition to serving these very practical purposes, your employee manual can be a great way to reinforce your company culture and values.

The employee handbook is one of the first documents your new hires will receive. Keep in mind, they’ve just gone through a hiring process that portrays your company in a certain light. Now is the time to keep that light shining bright by reinforcing all the things you talked about during your recruiting and interview phases.

If your recruitment process is based on a “We care about our employees” message, your employee handbook is a great way to reinforce that notion immediately after. On the other hand, if it reads like a clinical set of procedures, rules, and discipline polices, your new hires are going to notice that these things don’t match up. This could put your new team members on the defensive and cause them to question the decision to jump onboard.

Here’s how you can use your employee manual as another way to make your employees feel good about joining your organization:

  • Include information on your company mission and vision
  • Talk about how you demonstrate your organizational values
  • Outline your employee benefits and compensation packages
  • Promote your employee wellbeing programs and/or initiatives
  • Offer information on where employees can go if they have questions and complaints
  • Let employees know what resources are available if they need professional and/or personal help

If you view your employee handbook as a formality, an afterthought, or a formal list of company rules, you’re wasting an opportunity to showcase who you are as an organization.

Folding an employee-first message into your manual will not only strengthen your company brand and message, it will remind your happy new hires why they chose you.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Africa Studio

 

Your Employee Handbook: Beyond Rules and Regulations

 

You know it’s important for businesses to have an employee handbook, but you may be wondering how having one in place can benefit both you and your employees.

Beyond spelling out company policies and rules, a well-written employee handbook can be a very useful workplace tool for both employers and employees. Some of the things it can do may even surprise you!

Here are a couple of unexpected ways this document can facilitate business growth and help you recruit and retain employees. 

A tool to manage growth

When companies are very small or just starting out, it’s easier to set and manage expectations, self-police behavior, and maintain a cohesive company culture.

As businesses grow and evolve, these things become exponentially more difficult and the need to formalize organizational policies, systems, and expectations becomes much more critical.

An effective employee handbook will clearly outline essential business processes such as behavior standards, safety information, leave policies, anti-discrimination policies, compensation, and employee benefits.

Clarifying HR processes can significantly reduce the amount of time spent going back and forth to resolve employee issues and misunderstandings. This can be especially important for small businesses, where both time and resources are scarce. Your employee handbook will also promote consistency in how employees are treated, helping to keep your business in compliance and out of court.

A culture enhancer

In addition to serving these very practical purposes, your employee manual can be a great way to reinforce your company culture and values.

The employee handbook is one of the first documents your new hires will receive. Keep in mind, they’ve just gone through a hiring process that portrays your company in a certain light. Now is the time to keep that light shining bright by reinforcing all the things you talked about during your recruiting and interview phases.

If your recruitment process is based on a “We care about our employees” message, your employee handbook is a great way to reinforce that notion immediately after. On the other hand, if it reads like a clinical set of procedures, rules, and discipline polices, your new hires are going to notice that these things don’t match up. This could put your new team members on the defensive and cause them to question the decision to jump onboard.

Here’s how you can use your employee manual as another way to make your employees feel good about joining your organization:

  • Include information on your company mission and vision
  • Talk about how you demonstrate your organizational values
  • Outline your employee benefits and compensation packages
  • Promote your employee wellbeing programs and/or initiatives
  • Offer information on where employees can go if they have questions and complaints
  • Let employees know what resources are available if they need professional and/or personal help

If you view your employee handbook as a formality, an afterthought, or a formal list of company rules, you’re wasting an opportunity to showcase who you are as an organization.

Folding an employee-first message into your manual will not only strengthen your company brand and message, it will remind your happy new hires why they chose you.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Africa Studio