How good is your organization at measuring employee engagement? Research has shown how important it is for organizations to identify potential disengagement and address the contributing factors that can lead to it, such as:
- Absence of job resources
- Lack of job control
- Low job complexity
- Lack of organizational support
Establishing strong employer-employee relationships is critical to reducing the risk of disengagement and helping to retain top talent. While there is no magic formula, there are a variety of best practices that can lay the groundwork for creating a culture of engagement. Chief among these is to consider fostering a coaching culture where employees are at the center of the learning and development process.
Build Trust and Accountability
When a manager trusts their team, every member of that team feels responsible for their work activities. Your employees need to understand the impact, importance, and value of their work if they’re going to remain engaged. One of the keys to strong leadership is the ability to “rally the troops” and workshop solutions to problems with a one-team mindset. However, this can be easily derailed if your managers and leaders don’t demonstrate a high level of trust.
For example, when the pandemic began, some organizations worried that working from home would diminish productivity due to distractions and (for want of a better word) laziness. The opposite has proven to be true. Analysis shows that nearly 60% of workers have reported a productivity increase when given the freedom and flexibility to adjust their work schedules around their personal lives.
Taking a coaching mindset, leaders and managers are encouraged to build trust into their employer-employee relationships. They can do this by leading by example and demonstrating transparency around business expectations and company goals. Employees will understand the value they bring and be encouraged to identify areas for improvement or efficiencies that support company goals. People managers and employees then have a firm foundation of knowledge and share a common vision for success. Coaching then becomes a matter of collaboration, rather than delegation.
Being Available Without Micromanaging
It can be a tricky balancing act to ensure your team is performing effectively, while also respecting each individual’s freedom and autonomy. As mentioned above, when you build trust into your employer-employee relationships, your team will not only feel deeper ownership for their work, they won’t constantly rely on managers to tell them what to do. Micromanaging is generally a waste of time and only causes employees to resist the constant feedback and surveillance of their work. While your managers certainly need to monitor the progress of various projects, persistently checking in to learn the status of progress will cause acrimony.
Provide Timely Yet Respectful Feedback
A coaching culture empowers all stakeholders to communicate and collaborate with honesty, integrity, and respect. Most employees want to do their best. They should feel free to reach out to their managers for support when the time is right. Similarly, managers who are plugged into their teams’ day-to-day activities are more likely to spot issues as they’re developing and step in. Unlike micromanaging, manager interventions should feel necessary and valuable.
Support Regular Check-ins
Rather than attempting to provide detailed feedback in the flow of work, managers might consider scheduling separate one-on-one meetings with employees to ensure information transfer is clear and respectful. These regular meetings are critical when managing remote teams. And managers will be able to gauge sentiment in a realistic and timely manner. Unlike organization-wide surveys, one-on-ones can simply be informal chats when managers can get a sense of where employees are excited about their work and what may be causing blockers.
Listen With an Open Mind
Just because a process or strategy has been established as a best practice, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the only way to achieve your business goals. The very foundation of innovative thinking within teams is the ability to “think outside the box.” When you listen to your employees and make the attempt to understand their points of view, you’re more likely to uncover potential solutions to problems you may not have even known you had.
For example, one of our client-partners is a large pharmaceutical company that wanted to foster a more engaging culture of safety throughout the organization. Employees noted that errors were occurring in the lab when samples were being removed and marked down through a manual process. It was brought to light that the font size on the labels was simply too small to be read, leading to potential errors. While only a minor change, the adjustment successfully addressed a potential hazard. And if it weren’t for the culture of listening and employee-centered respect within the organization, this idea might never have been identified as a solution.
Leadership Training for a Coaching Culture
It can be a major shift in cognitive awareness for leaders and managers to embrace a coaching culture. This is particularly true in larger organizations with legacy operating procedures and practices. From a Darwinian perspective, the secret to survival isn’t simply to be strong. It’s the ability to adapt to shifting conditions, environments—and in the context of company culture—mindset.
Leaders of the future must be mindful of the needs of their new and existing employees and develop the skills necessary to build effective employer-employee relationships. In a coaching culture, or an organization driving an innovation strategy, leaders and managers need to:
- Understand the difference between coaching and micromanaging
- Demonstrate empathy and open listening
- Identify and address unconscious bias in the workplace
- Communicate clearly and regularly
- Support employees along their career paths
Contact us to learn more about how to bring a coaching culture to your workplace and nurture strong employer-employee relationships. Together we can build a leadership development strategy that focuses on supporting a strong company culture.