The impact of a skills gap on business is significant and multifaceted. Skill shortages hamper the ability to innovate, lower employee productivity, and affect an organization's customer experience.
Organizations spend billions of dollars on managers to upskill employee coaching training. Yet only a few understand what it takes to coach an employee. A quick-fix coaching method will be futile without real-world application and strategic steps.
One effective way to tackle this is through employee coaching.
What is employee coaching?
Employee coaching is a process where an employee is guided on how to improve their performance through regular and systematic feedback, support, and development. Employee coaching helps the individual meet or exceed the expectations of their role and contribute positively to the workplace.
Organizations that value their employees should consider implementing an employee coaching program. It is cost-effective, improves productivity, and reduces staff turnover.
The coaching usually involves senior and more experienced employees coaching junior employees. It's worth noting that coaching employees differs slightly from mentorship.
Employee coaching is primarily concerned with increasing productivity and enhancing workers' performance, while mentorship takes it further (more on that later).
Why is it important for employees to have access to coaching?
It's a critical issue for employers when their employees fall short of their goals and begin to ignore the company objectives. Effective coaching can be a great tool to help the employee and their commitment towards the organization's goals and objectives.
A good coaching program should be tailored to the individual employee and focus on their specific goals and needs. Below are why it's important for both—employees and the organization.
Helps with career development: Many people feel nervous or unsure about talking to their boss about their career. Employee coaching helps ambitious employees create a plan for their career development and increase their value to their company. Career coaching can be a great way for companies to keep talented employees and help them grow.
Encourages creativity and innovation: Creativity is the key to success in any industry. It goes without saying that creativity leads to innovation. And innovation allows businesses to stay ahead of their competition and keep up with changing consumer demand and trends. Employee coaching provides a safe environment for employees to be creative and imaginative.
Boosts morale and motivation: When employees feel like they are being supported and developed, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. Knowing there are shoulders to lean on during trying times and when difficult tasks arise is a morale and motivation booster.
Reduces stress levels: Coaching allows employees to discuss any work-related issues or concerns they may have, which can help diffuse any potential sources of stress. In addition, coaching develops better coping strategies for dealing with stress. Employers can help create a more stress-free workplace by providing employees with regular coaching.
Promotes teamwork: One of the key benefits of employee coaching is that it helps promote teamwork. Coaching improves communication and collaboration between team members and helps individuals develop new skills and knowledge that can benefit the team.
Employees feel appreciated and valued: It's a great way to show your employees that you care about them and developing their talents.
Improves productivity and satisfaction: Employee coaching helps improve productivity and satisfaction by providing employees with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed. Coached employees know what is expected of them and are held accountable for their performance. Coaching also allows employees to learn new skills and improve their existing ones. This leads to a more productive and satisfied workforce.
Reduce employee turnover rates: Most organizations don't know that half of their employees are one foot out of their company. Gallup shows that 48% of US employees are actively looking for other job opportunities. Employee turnover is costly depending on the status and position of the employee:
- It costs between 1.5 - 2X the employee salary to replace them,
- It cost $1500 to replace an hourly worker, and
- 100 - 150% to replace a technical worker.
- For a C-suite employee, it could cost as high as 213%.
Employee coaching can improve motivation and performance, reduce turnover, and improve retention rates.
Employees develop leadership skills: As employees move up the corporate ladder, they are often tasked to lead and manage teams. To be successful in these roles, they need to develop strong leadership skills; employee coaching can help employees develop those leadership skills.
Coaching employees can help organizations achieve their goals and objectives for individual employees and the company.
Examples of workplace coaching
There are many different types of coaching programs available, so it is important to find one that meets the needs of your employees.
Experienced employees mentor junior team members
This practice covers mentorship, guidance, and on-the-job training. Junior employees can learn from their more experienced colleagues, and the company can benefit from the skills and knowledge of both groups.
Also, the experienced employees can play a dual role—that serves as a mentor (share practical knowledge skills and experience) and sponsor (recommend for promotions) the junior colleague. This way, the junior employee benefits from practical knowledge from the senior colleague and receives help in moving up the professional ladder.
The mentor can teach the junior employee appropriate work habits, handling difficult situations, and how to succeed in the company. In addition, the junior employee can learn from the mentor's mistakes and how to avoid them. These are a few of the many reasons to connect your employees with mentors.
Coworkers coach one another
Coworkers are there to support one another. They help each other reach new levels and grow as individuals, which creates an environment where everyone can be successful. Organizations can build a successful coaching program around coworkers coaching one another.
In a study by Degreed, 55% of employees turn to their colleagues to learn. Peer-to-peer coaching has been known to be very effective. Albert Bandura's social learning of personality shows we learn best by observing people around us; peer coaching helps employees learn by observing what their coworkers do.
Peer mentoring helps employees build solid support relationships and hold each other accountable; similarly, coworkers coaching one another build strong partnerships that offer support and accountability.
Hire external business coaches
There are some bottlenecks when using internal coaches for employees. They aren't available for everyone, and the employees often cite a lack of confidentiality/privacy; hence they don't open fully for them.
With an external coach, you have a professional who has no connection with your organization's daily activities and at no point in time had any issues with any of your employees. This assures that the external coach will be free of biases, and your employees can be sure of confidentiality/privacy.
Close to 40% of Fortune 500 companies use external business coaches for their employees. Before now, companies like IBM, Motorola, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Hewlett-Packard used coaches as an intervention for troubled employees. Today it's seen as an essential part of leadership development for executives in companies. External business coaches have been described as top executives' hidden power. In addition, executive coaching has a 529% ROI.
Tips for coaching employees
When coaching employees, keep the following tips in mind:
- Be clear about what you expect from your employee.
- Explain the reason for the expectation.
- Coach positively, focusing on what the employee is doing well and how they can improve.
- Avoid criticizing the employee.
- Be specific in your feedback.
- Offer encouragement and support.
- Give the employees time to improve their performance.
- Follow up with the employee after coaching to ensure they understand and implement your suggestions.
- Ensure that the employee knows how to contact you if they have questions or need further help.
- Be patient and positive, and your coaching will be successful.
How to build an employee coaching plan
Remember we talked about building real-world applications and strategic employee coaching methods? The following steps show how you can build one.
Identify the areas in which your employee needs coaching
The first step is to identify the areas in which your employee needs coaching. This may be based on feedback from managers or coworkers, or it may be based on an employee's self-assessment. Some areas that may need improvement include:
- Communication skills
- Time management skills
- Problem-solving skills
Set goals with employees
Once you have identified the areas in which your employee needs coaching, it's important to define specific goals for each area. These goals should be measurable and achievable and have a particular time frame for completion. By setting goals for your employees, you can provide them with clear expectations and motivate them to succeed.
Pair employees together
Pairing employees plays an important role in building an effective employee coaching program. Having employees work closely together helps them learn and grow. This creates a more positive work environment, leading to better performance.
There are several reasons why pairing employees together can be beneficial:
- It allows employees to share their knowledge and experiences. This helps them learn new skills and better understand their job duties.
- It creates a sense of camaraderie and team spirit. When employees feel like they are part of a team, they are more likely to cooperate and support.
Pairing employees helps build trust. When employees have a close working relationship, they are more likely to trust and respect. This leads to better communication and collaboration.
Together has algorithms designed to match employees with appropriate peer pairing. The system does this by considering the skills and goals of each candidate, simplifying the process and making it easy to pair employees to support their learning and development.
Provide discussion topics
A coaching session can quickly become unproductive or even awkward without discussing specific topics. Allow employees to explore various aspects of their work and identify areas that need improvement. In addition, discussion topics help employees reflect on their work and better understand how they can contribute to the organization.
Employers should provide a variety of discussion topics that cover different aspects of the employee's work. Topics can include job duties, goals, challenges, and best practices. It is also essential to provide employees with an opportunity to ask questions and share their thoughts.
Discussion topics help employees feel more engaged and connected to their work. This leads to better performance and a more productive workplace.
Monitor progress and solicit feedback
During coaching, monitoring the progress and soliciting employee feedback are two essential steps that should not be overlooked.
Progress monitoring allows you to track how employees perform and identify additional support areas. By identifying issues early on, you can provide the necessary assistance. Tracking progress also helps you identify successful coaching strategies to replicate in the future.
Soliciting feedback is important for two reasons:
- It allows employees to provide input on their development. This gives them a sense of ownership and encourages them to take an active role in their growth.
- Feedback can help you identify areas where the coaching process may need improvement.
If employees feel not being heard, they may be less likely to fully engage in the coaching process. Soliciting feedback and addressing any concerns early on ensures that the coaching process is as effective as possible.
Bringing employee coaching to your organization
Employee coaching is a non-negotiable part of employee development. Organizations are competing more and more for top talent and employees prioritize organizations that will help them grow. So coaching is a new priority.
But it doesn’t have to be an administrative nightmare to start an employee coaching program. You can easily encourage employees to coach one another by organizing small coaching groups using Together’s employee connection platform. Start a free group, use our templated agendas to encourage discussion and monitor progress. It’s that simple.