For many of my clients, who are senior leaders, and executives in their organizations, there are many issues in these unpredictable Covid times. Chief among them, is employee retention. As one executive at a major global 500 company was telling me the other day, “I can’t afford to lose one more person in the team or I’ll fear the whole team including myself will become burnout.”
There are many reasons why people quit and as a former head of HR, I can tell you that the devil might be in the data. Yet, there is fundamental truth that needs to be acknowledged: People don't quit jobs, they quit ineffective, poor leaders.
This is critically important to be aware of. Fortunately, there is one tool in the leader’s toolbox that can help immensely: Coaching.
Effective leaders coach their team. They don’t manage them. To help you use this tool, here are six ways you can use coaching as a leader, and subsequently increase retention within your team.
Align responsibilities with strengths
We all work better when our job duties align with our strengths. When we feel like we’re just spinning our wheels, it’s a recipe for disaster. For example, do you have an employee who has a knack for guiding their fellow team members, yet has no leadership authority on their own? Coaching them to gain confidence in their leadership abilities and looking for ways to increase their management responsibilities is a great way to coach them towards success.
Give them room to grow
In fact, you can be instrumental in their leadership development simply by tuning in to what are your direct reports gifts, and supporting them in their areas of growth. Give them a chance to show you what they are capable of with a stretch assignment or two. Perhaps they would be ideal to spearhead your internship program in your department or maybe they could take on one or two of the jobs on your plate. Don’t think of this as passing your responsibilities on to them. Rather, you’re giving them room to grow for whatever comes next in their career.
Ask your employees questions
As you work with your employees to build their careers, you’ll want to routinely invite them into the conversation. After all, this not only empowers them to feel like they have control over their own success, but it also reveals things about them you may not have known.
If you’re coaching them for improvement, asking them why a situation happened and to hear their side of the story is far more effective than making assumptions. It shows that you’re interested in learning the why behind a situation and developing an effective solution towards preventing it from happening again.
In a career coaching scenario, it gives them the ability to express where they see themselves heading in the coming months and years. Then you have the opportunity to support them by guiding them on the best ways to achieve their career goals.
Develop a concrete plan
In any kind of coaching scenario, planning is your best friend. Let’s use the aforementioned possibility of handing off your internship program to one of your employees.
First, what does success look like? Then, what’s the inverse look like? What is the goal of the internship program? How should your employee manage the interns? Are there specific projects they can work on while interning at your firm? Make those clear if so.
How does this benefit your employee? For how long will they be in charge? Can they come to you for questions?
There are a lot of questions to ask, and this is just one possible scenario. My point is to demonstrate that you’ll want to have a clear, actionable plan in place for whatever coaching situation you’re in with a team member. Make sure benchmarks are clear and expectations are laid out concisely.
Leadership development strategies will tell you time and time again that the best managers don’t micromanage their direct reports. There is a growing sentiment that some of the push to return to the office (and foregoing work from home) is so that managers can be involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of their team.
When evaluating your work from home strategies, ask yourself if this is so that you can guide and grow your employees’ skillsets. Make sure it’s clear that you’re looking out for their best interests and not your own. That’s the true mark of an effective leader, whether you’re working from an office or home.
Finally, you should always try to celebrate successes with your team. This can consist of simple things, such as acknowledging them in front of the rest of the team or financial-based methods as approved by your company. Either way, let them know that you’re proud of them and that their efforts matter. Effective leadership development and coaching cannot happen without celebrating success.
Coaching is your best leadership tool for team success
You may have picked up on this throughout this blog today, but just to reiterate it: your job as a leader is to coach your team towards success. When you take a vested interest in helping align their job with what they’re good at, giving them room to grow, inviting them to provide feedback, and developing plans to further their career, you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to.
You’re being a coach first, a friend second, and a manager third. Their success will indirectly become your own. Likewise, your success is one of my top priorities. If you need any help unpacking strategies to be a better coach, then let’s book a time to go over your current situation. I can’t wait to meet you and find out how I can help.