Small Business Employee Coaching Guide
Employee coaching and engagement are important parts of business leadership. Engaged employees typically reflect happy employees. As a business owner, there are plenty of things you can do to improve engagement levels and boost the overall environment of the company.
Sure, a pool table and catered lunches are awesome perks, but great leaders should also seek to develop their team members. A recent study reported that managers that were coached by others higher up also passed that coaching along to other employees. In short, coaching not only benefits your employees, but it helps you, too. It helps build relationships, improve interactions with and among employees, and provides insights into employees’ perspectives. Bonus: employees get to know you, understand your expectations, and can grow in their roles.
How to Create an Employee Coaching Process
Your coaching process can either be formal or informal. Choose the process that fits with your company culture. The process should provide your employees with expectations, including frequency, coaching length, consistency, and documentation.
Informal coaching programs can be effective, but sometimes lack information, resources, and clear expectations, leaving your employees with little information in terms of next steps. Coaching processes can be adaptable to each manager’s work style, just ensure that all managers are equally invested. In establishing your employee coaching program, define the following five areas in order to maximize the value of coaching sessions and maintain consistency:
- Frequency. Depending on the tenure of the employee and their experience level, coaching should happen either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. For tenured employees, monthly conversations are appropriate. For recent hires, those who are newly promoted, or employees who are on a performance improvement plan, weekly conversations should be scheduled between the manager and employee at minimum for eight weeks.
- Honesty. Effective coaching happens when trust is established, and both parties can talk honestly and openly. Of course there is going to be an uncomfortable conversation or two. If each party looks at it as honest feedback, then progress can easily be achieved. Be mindful of the employee’s feelings. Try to strike a balance and provide them with viable methods of improvement. Don’t forget to let them know what they are doing well, too. This will help your team member leave the meeting on a positive note.
- Regular Follow Up. Coaches and employees should leave meetings a short list of to-do’s that require follow up by both parties. As a leader, you need to set the example. Make sure you follow through on your commitments, meet deadlines, and follow up as promised.
- Focus. It’s easy in a coaching meeting to go off on different tangents. Set an agenda of topics to be covered at the beginning of the meeting. Allow your employee an opportunity for input. Be prepared to park a lot items that need further information or clarification. Remember, a coaching conversation is about improving an employee’s performance.
- Documentation. Keep detailed notes of all employee conversations and coaching. Use a simple spreadsheet or notebook to record the conversation including date, time, and topics discussed. If an employee’s performance does not progress or if there is a workplace investigation, you need these notes to establish context or an employee’s next performance steps.
Employee Coaching is a Continuous Process
Remember that coaching your employees is an ongoing process. There is no beginning or end. We’re all just stuck in the middle together. You want to make sure your employees are on top of their game and their skill sets are continually improving as they progress through their career. You, your employees, and your business will benefit.