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GTP21: The power of coaching for employee engagement

The Leadership Coaches

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2021 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2021 this involves 8 free online workshops taking place throughout March, and a virtual Growth Through People conference on 30th March. In addition, throughout the campaign the Chambers will be publishing thought leadership podcasts, videos and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our Headline Sponsors – Aston University, BMet College and the University of Birmingham’s Work Inclusivity Research Centre - all workshops are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more and register to attend Growth Through People workshops here, and the Growth Through People conference here.

According to the World’s largest engagement study by Gallup, engaged employees deliver more positive outcomes:

 In addition, they achieve greater organisational success:

 A case study on the power of coaching for employee engagement

Meet Seb, Seb works as an IT manager and has a team of six working with him. Seb is struggling to engage a member of his team and is frustrated with him and his performance. His other team members are picking up the workload and it’s unfair on them. Seb speaks to his IT director, Cassie, who asks Seb if he’s heard about the power of coaching for employee engagement. Seb’s response is that he’s told him so many times and Keith still doesn’t do it.

Reading this you might have spotted a challenge. Seb is ‘telling’ Keith what to do rather than ‘coaching’ him. There’s a time and a place for both and a myriad of options in between on the continuum of intervention pictured below.

Cassie shares the image above and gives Seb an example:

“Last week, when I shared with you that we have an issue with Priority 2 requests being escalated, can you recall what happened?”

Seb: “You suggested I take it away, think about it and see what ideas I could come up with and that you were open to my thoughts.”

Cassie: “Absolutely, I know you know the role better than I, so I chose to empower you to try and solve the issue yourself. You came back with some great ideas – better than those I would have shared with you!”

Seb: “Thanks Cassie, but this is different, Keith just doesn’t want to do the stuff I ask of him.”

Cassie: “Tell me more, I want to help you work though this…”

Seb: “Keith just does the very minimum he has to, he leaves tickets unexplained and this causes frustration to others.”

Cassie: “What have you tried?”

Seb: “I told him why it’s important, I told him what needs to be done and I’ve shown him how to do it. But he just doesn’t.”

Cassie: “So what is getting in the way for him?”

Seb: “I don’t know. I suppose I could ask him and that might help me understand it a bit more...”

The following week, Seb updates Cassie:

Seb: “I had a chat with Keith, it turns out he finds the system annoying and thinks we’ve got too many check points, he thinks it wastes time and he’s trying to be efficient to serve more customers. That wasn’t what I was expecting! In fact, he really seems to care about the service and thinks our ‘red-tape’ gets in the way of serving our customers, he said it’s the first time anyone has asked for his input, he normally just shuts up and does what he’s told!”

Cassie: “That’s useful information for you, so what are the next steps?”

Seb: “I’ve agreed to get the team together to find out what works and what doesn’t, listen to their ideas and input and remove as many of the blockers as I can to helping them do their jobs in a way that’s right for the customers and the team.”

Cassie: “Great work Seb! I’m delighted with how you’ve approached that and you’ll also notice that this has a ripple effect…productivity, self-solving issues, engagement, it’s a winning tool in your leadership tool kit!”

Seb: “Thanks Cassie, and thanks for coaching me through it too!”

In the case study, we notice a shift in management behaviour, many managers and leaders unknowingly default to the ‘tell’ style, with good intentions, however when they realise the power of coaching for employee engagement, they soon start to develop this skill as it returns much more benefit to the employee, team, manager, leader and the organisation’s measures of success.

Try these 3 simple questions to get started with your coaching:

  • What would you like to happen?
  • What gets in the way?
  • What’s the first step forward?

It would be foolish to suggest that these 3 questions will help your leaders and managers work through all challenges with a coaching style, you might also like to try The Coaching Habit or The Tao of Coaching as great starter books.

Do I need to qualify as a coach?

Fortunately not, what a manager or leader needs to know is how to coach and is another tool in your toolkit of leadership and management skills.

At The Leadership Coaches we coach leaders and in that process they too pick up the skills of coaching, additionally we offer bespoke courses for managers and leaders, including how to develop these skills to help your employees experience the power of engagement through coaching.

Zoe Lewis
Director of Coaching
The Leadership Coaches