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Introduction to Employee Development
Employee development involves several activities. One such activity is coaching. Similarly, mentoring and goal setting is another employee development activity. These activities are effective only when an employee or team member believes that the employee coaching session is for his or her own development. Without this, the coaching session will not be effective. Actually, coaching sessions are easier to conduct if you have already built a rapport and trust with the employee. The logic applies to all other activities involved in employee development.
In this article, we’ll look at some points that you should take care of while conducting the employee coaching session. For a list of points before the session, refer to the An Employee Coaching Checklist: Before the Session article.
Image credit: SXC
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Employee Development – During the Employee Coaching Session
Employee development is a complicated process that requires time and patience. Employee coaching checklists are only useful if they are used. I have, therefore, restricted this employee coaching checklist to six key items, as shown below. Each item in this checklist is a key component of employee development and can be used in activities other than employee coaching.
- Recap: When you start the session, ensure you recap the previous session be reading out the action items. This ensures there is a progression in employee development, and coaching is not being treated as a one of activity, with no plan or measures of success.
- Communication Style: Active listening and reading body language are all critical to avoid misunderstandings. If you aren’t sure, always ask and paraphrase. Validate your understanding of the situation and summarize the agreed upon conclusion. Ineffective communication can be a major stumbling block in employee development.
- Behavior/Employee Performance Measurement: Employee behavior and performance is inherently a part of employee development. When discussing employee performance or behavior, make sure you have documented the unwanted behavior. Discuss the trend and help the employee understand how this behavior is not helping him/her or the project. It is easier to convince a person when you share facts. When communicating improvement areas, don’t sugar coat the message because the employee might not get the severity of the situation. Ultimately, you’ll end up with a cavity!
- Employee Development Solution: Many times, managers tend to force their solution down the employee’s throat in the name of employee development. The proposed solution may be correct. However, it might not be followed by the employee. A solution to a problem needs to be mutually agreed on. The best way to do this by asking the employee for the solution and then collectively reach a final solution. This technique also helps in motivating the employee to address the problem.
- Employee Motivation: Setting and reviewing goals and expectations are typically a part of coaching and employee development. Goals and expectations need to be clear and agreed on by both the coach and the employee. Employee buy-in is necessary to build intrinsic motivation. Remember, motivation is key to successfully achieving change in employee behavior and improving employee performance. Employee motivation and hence performance can be affected by various factors, including organizational cultural, management style, and compensation. However, it is not restricted to factors in the workplace. Personal issues can easily crop in and wreak havoc in employee performances. Ask open-ended, probing questions to identify the areas affecting motivation and employee development. Sometimes the basic employee benefits offered by an organization demotivate employees.
Image credit: SXC
- Employee Development Planning: After you have a buy-in on the expected performance and the improvement areas for employee development, let the employee chart out and document the action items. These items would also be a part of your coaching plan and be used in the next employee coaching meeting. Personally, I like to end a employee coaching session on a positive and I do this by stressing on one positive behavior in the end.
Tip: Sometimes it is useful to use Root Cause Analysis tools. I prefer the 5-Whys, Fishbone Analysis, and Pareto Analysis. Refer to the Guide to Root Cause Analysis for more information.
Read the last part in this series, Fastracking Employee Performance through Employee Development Coaching Sessions, to learn about post employee coaching activities for employee development and performance.