"My company is taking a substantial blow to productivity and overall profitability has plummeted." "Employees are not connecting in the workplace." "Low morale and motivation are having a negative impact on the organisation." "We no longer have the ability to innovate, to reinforce competitive advantage." Sound familiar?
It is no secret that these statements are all too familiar consequences of employee engagement in corporations. It seems to be the elusive white rabbit that organisations continually chase down in focus groups, gimmicks and the breakfast consultants rabbit hole. With the expense being paid to no avail.
What is really meant by employee engagement and what are the key factors?
Most respondents to engagement surveys are 'neutrals'. They tend to slightly agree with statements rather than confidently agreeing, particularly when it comes to change. They express a wish to be communicated with better, to have the effect of their role recognised and that there are people that depend on them to get things done.
According to author Dan Pink in his book "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" there are three key motivators. Autonomy, purpose and mastery are the drivers for engagement at work. Self-directed or autonomy is the feeling of being autonomous by getting feedback. Purpose is knowing why I am doing something. Mastery is the feeling I am getting better at things that matter.
How does corporate coaching fit into this dilemma?
Coaching has found its way to the forefront of the employee engagement challenge. In many organisations, it does not 'fix' the problem, but is a strategy for strengthening manager/employee relationships and a step toward improving employee engagement.
A leader as coach is all about acknowledging and championing people. 'I want to acknowledge you for taking a risk in order to help that person and I'd like to champion you. You set a really strong example for others.'
How does coaching for engagement work in corporations?
One of the most powerful tools for coaching to be effective is mutual trust and respect. By coaching managers to become more engaged with their employees they need to understand the importance of curiosity.
It's not about driving or telling, rather it's about asking questions. It's important to the employee to have the manager asking. It's important for the manager to let the employee guide developmental conversations. To ask powerful questions that open the door to greater exploration of the employee's needs and wants.
Here are some examples of simple questions to explore:
What gives you satisfaction?
Tell me about that feeling?
What happens when things don't go your way?
If you could wave a magic wand and something would change, what would that be?
What does success look like for you? Can you put it into a metaphor?
Who is a role model for you?
What's the best advice you have been given?
What's the best advice you have given to others?
What's on your mind?
A leader as coach opens up to possibilities. They connect rather than project. There are meaningful conversations that tap straight into values and intrinsic motivations. A coach gets to the root of the problem by finding out what makes you happy. What makes you angry. What's holding you back. What's important to you right now.
The end result?
Coaching helps leaders and managers to:
Build employee intelligence
Assist their teams to self-manage
Develop the workforce
Bring empathy to the workplace
Positively impact retention through developing a strength-based culture
Make employees feel valued
Tend to be more engaged
According to research, when the relationship is solid, it can lead to higher levels of productivity and a stronger bottom-line, and offers greater pride in work results.
These benefits of coaching for engagement leave no doubt that managerial coaching is a powerful tool. Leaders who can transition to becoming an amazing coach can transform employee engagement and bottom-line results potentially.
They want to be known for what makes them unique. People want purpose and meaning from their work. And they want relationships. This is what drives employee engagement. This is who drives employee engagement.