Employee engagement has emerged as a critical driver of business success in today’s competitive marketplace.
High levels of engagement promote retention of talent, foster customer loyalty and improve organizational performance and stakeholder value.
But to achieve an employee powered culture takes much more than just pictures of happy employees. While happy is great, it doesn’t happen by accident.
It takes planning and focused efforts by your frontline supervisor who consistently give employees the kind of feedback needed to be successful.
That’s what keeps employees engaged for the long haul.
But, while supervisors are often called upon to coach employees, they aren’t automatically good at.
Most supervisors training is in this area. And if you’re interest is in fueling a culture of belonging at your organization, it pays to start by helping supervisors become better coaches.
Good coaching is a combination of counseling and motivating, which results in an engaged employee/team.
Successful coaching requires careful planning:
- before a coaching session
- for what will happen during the coaching session
- follow-up after the coaching session to get the best results.
Before the planned coaching session:
- Observe the behavior on which an employee needs coaching and counseling.
- Document the behavior on which the employee needs to be coached and counseled, noting the vital information of what happened, etc., so there will be no disagreements.
- Confer with any others who need to be consulted on the counseling session, for instance HR or your own manager. Plan out what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it – and plan for what you will say in response to the probable reaction of the other person.
- Schedule the counseling session – timing is important.
- Don’t schedule counseling and coaching sessions for 4 p.m. Friday. That gives employees time to stew all weekend and come up with a thousand reasons why they’re right and you’re wrong and muster his or her defenses.
- Do it at the beginning of the week so the employee has no time to think about it and will be faced with how to apply what the supervisor said immediately in a work setting.
Keys to planned coaching
Here are the main points to cover during any coaching session:
- Initiate the conversation without a lot of small talk – get right to the point.
- Note the day and the time in writing – if the coaching session is not successful and the employee needs to be written up for insubordination, you need to have that data.
- State your concern as the management representative over the behavior that needs to be corrected – and explain why the behavior is inappropriate.
- Allow the employee to explain his or her side of the story.
- Make a mental note of the employee’s emotional state. If it’s really a coaching session, it may help to calm the person down by telling them that this is not a termination meeting; it is merely a meeting on how to try and get from Point A to Point B.
- Ask the employee for suggestions on how the situation can be corrected or improved.
- Add any additional steps from management’s point of view to what the employee may already have suggested.
- Make a confidence statement, something like “I have no doubt that you can do it” – and make it sound genuine. People want to hear that the supervisors they look up to also believe in them.
After the coaching session
After the coaching session, to make sure it is successful, here are three follow-up steps:
- Set up a follow-up meeting; this is probably the most critical step, to plan for follow-up.
- Planning for follow-up sends the message that the issue for the coaching session was sufficiently important. If the supervisor would never bring it up again, the employee might get the idea that the issue couldn’t have been very important anyway.
- Circle back with the employee in a week or so. It may not have to be a long meeting – a couple of minutes may be enough just to look-in and check to see how things are going and (hopefully) note improvement in the behaviors that needed to be corrected.
Don’t forget to make it fun!
All the non-technical people stuff that supervisors are expected to do tends to be pretty serious stuff. But supervisors would do well not to forget that people most like to work where they can have some fun.
Of course that does not mean cracking inappropriate jokes. Real workplace fun consists of experiencing enjoyment, belonging, and a sense of playfulness while fulfilling one’s professional duties.
Having fun at work:
- helps recruit and retain good talent – people like to work where the environment is fun
- is associated with increased creativity – you’ll get employees’ best ideas in a fun environment that encourages playfulness
- inspires employees to put up with challenging circumstances – and every workplace will face challenges from time to time; fun can help them get through it
- increases trust and camaraderie
- enhances internal communication
- can be used to build and strengthen the company culture, and can help increase company loyalty among both employees and customers.
An entertaining workplace can be infectious with customers, too; they also want to be part of this environment and become more loyal to your company as a result.
So how do you do it?
The first step is to familiarize yourself with your employees and learn as much as you can about them:
- Who are they?
- What is their level of education?
- What are their interests?
Recommended fun activities
Since breaking bread together is one of the most effective methods to have fun with employees, here are some recommended activities to introduce an element of fun in the workplace:
- staff appreciation lunches, or mid-afternoon snack parties
- celebratory events
- company picnics
- look toward other possible perks, since the typical events may preclude participation by some people for religious, health or other restrictions
- recognize informal “morale officers” among the staff and use them to good effect to increase workplace fun
- don’t make it a one-time event – but do something different the next time to pleasantly surprise people (intermittent adds to the surprise)
- give people something to look forward to (and other components can be regularly scheduled like monthly or quarterly)
- involve employees in the decision-making, but
- no matter what you do, remember that scheduling fun activities is no replacement for effective management, which involves listening to your workforce, responding to your workforce and making sure your workforce knows that you’re invested in their success, too.