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Leadership Development Blog

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6 Secrets For Effective Employee Coaching & Counseling

Posted by Paul O'Keefe on Aug 9, 2016 12:00:00 PM

 11529454_s.jpgSavvy supervisors know that effective coaching and counseling builds strong working relationships. It also encourages retention and helps employees grow in their careers.

In fact, a 2006 Sun Microsystems 5-year study of over 1,000 employees found that those who mentored others were 6 times more likely to be promoted than those who didn’t, and their mentees were 5x more likely to be promoted than those who weren’t. 

Quality mentoring increases worker satisfaction, productivity, helps the bottom line and is necessary for transferring knowledge and expertise from seniors to newer employees. Efforts from coaching and counseling will bear positive outcomes that outweigh any time or financial investments when done correctly. Following are six secrets for effective employee coaching and counseling. These secrets deal with when and how to effectively coach and counsel employees.

Secret #1: Every moment in the office is an opportunity for training, coaching and counseling employees

In many cases, the most impactful coaching and counseling will be informal - a moment here, a passing observation there. These quick, informal moments then grow into deeper, fuller conversations – conversations that sometimes span days or longer. If you rely strictly on set times to meet with your various employees to talk to them, then you’re not having enough conversations. If you're only coaching and counseling your employees during formal reviews, you're not having the right kind of conversations. True mentoring flourishes in the day-to-day interactions of relationship.

Secret #2: Lay the groundwork of a healthy relationship for more successful training, coaching and counseling

The groundwork for successfully coaching is strong, healthy and open relationships. This means that every moment of every day is an opportunity to build relationship. To be most effective, you must have a healthy professional and personal relationship with your employees. Usually leaders think in terms of having a professional relationship, not understanding that a strong personal relationship will augment whatever coaching and counseling you conduct.

WARNING – This comes with a caveat: You can’t be so personally invested in your employees that you lose objectivity, exhibit preferential treatment or allow them to take advantage of the personal relationship.

Okay. Then what is meant by a personal relationship?

It doesn't mean that you hang out after work and have a social life together. A personal relationship, in this context, means that you know and care about your employees as people, and they know and care about you in the same way. You talk to them about their hopes and dreams. You know what they want to do five years down the line. You know their spouse and children and have interacted with them.

If you know them as only a worker, without knowing what motivates, worries and concerns them in their personal lives, you know only half their story. It’s difficult to effectively counsel an employee if you don’t know them well. You don’t want to give poor advice or make useless suggestions that are based on partial information. You must get to know your employees and truly care about them, and they must get to know you.

Secret #3: See failures and mistakes as perfect opportunities for training, coaching and counseling employees

Everyone makes mistakes and nobody is immune to failure. Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” The most successful people are the ones who have plenty of failures and mistakes, keep pressing forward and turn them around. They perceive their failures and mistakes as opportunities for growth. Many mention the role of counseling in helping them turn these things around, or they mention that special coach who pushed them to surpass their limitations and become great.

Are you one of those coaches? 

When people fail, do you jump into the trenches to help them out? Do you reach down, get a little dirty and pull them up? Or do you stand far off and criticize and berate? Remember to see beyond the bottom line and immediate returns; instead, look at what an investment in a person can do for your organization in the long term. You’ll probably observe a larger dividend in the future with a loyal, productive employee. Always strive to reach down, encourage and teach employees in the midst of their failure.

Be the bigger person; be that memorable boss.

Click to Read How Experienced Leadership Development Coaches & Mentors Can Help Your Leaders Reach Their Full Potential. 

Secret #4: Provide plenty of praise and rewards

Everyone needs to be motivated, particularly when they’re pushing past their known limitations. You want your employees to step out of their comfort zone. You want them to push to take smart risks and excel. The best way to ensure that they’re comfortable taking risks, going out of their comfort zone and innovating is to have a culture of reward and praise.

Verbal praise and tangible rewards must be given for work well done. It must also be given to the appropriate people – the ones who make the project happen in front of others. Make sure to encourage your employees to shine.

Secret #5: Your feedback needs to be detailed and specific

You want the feedback you give your employees to be detailed and specific. Granted, there’s always a place for that quick thumbs up and “Good job!” But, you can’t do that too often.

Employees crave feedback that is detailed and specific. Such feedback looks like, “I really appreciate how you devised a new way to...” They want to know that you truly see them and what they do. Detailed and specific feedback also gives them something to use to grow. It's hard to grow on generalities. Specificity tells your employees exactly what works and why, so they can work harder at it.

Secret #6: Carpool chats are a quick route to effectively coaching and counseling employees

Have you ever been in a car with a supervisor for a long trip and the conversation started off stilted and then began to flow easily?

All of us have been there. There’s nothing like a carpool chat. There’s something magical about being in a car with a coworker for a period of time. It's a prime opportunity for some coaching. You’re each a captive audience for the other; no one can run. The only escape is focusing on your cell phone or the traffic, so there aren’t many avenues for distraction, avoidance or hiding. 

Further, sitting in the car allows for easy sharing and talking because no one is looking directly at anyone else. This diminishes any sort of “confrontational” or “invasive” feeling because you’re not looking at each other directly. This helps facilitate those conversations that are more difficult when you are looking directly at each other. Thus, surprisingly, a car ride to an event or meeting is an excellent opportunity for unnoticed, yet extremely effective informal coaching and counseling. Make sure to take advantage of it.

Use These Secrets For More Effective Coaching And Counseling Today

These six secrets will put you on the inside track for training, coaching and counseling your employees. Don’t hesitate to begin. Quality mentoring is a benefit for the coach and the coached, for the mentor and the mentee. You'll be sure to see the return in the growth of your employees and the success of your organization.

You may also be interested in these employee development posts:

To learn more about the benefits of employee development, contact Edge Training at 800-305-2025.

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