This is the ninth installment in our 25-week series exploring the 25 competencies, or soft skills, that our assessments measure. Each week we’ll give you the definition of that competency, explain its value, and give you tips to help you develop it.
This week: Employee Development and Coaching.
Employee Development and Coaching is facilitating, supporting, and contributing to the professional growth of others. It’s all about being able to connect with your employees and understand their goals and dreams and then to help them reach them.
Those skilled in Employee Development and Coaching know that most employees don’t stay at one company forever, but they’re glad to help them grow and develop while they’re here. They put the person first and help them to reach their highest potential. Great coaches give caring and candid feedback that serves to help the employee improve. It is never given just to cut someone down.
In today’s workplace, it is essential to have an open attitude and willingness both to learn from others and to coach others. Each person brings a unique skill set to the job. Often two people with the same working title have dramatically different areas of expertise and natural talents. We all know that it takes resilience and an open mind to accept constructive criticism and to learn by observing others. But it also takes creativity and a willingness to contribute to individual and group productivity in order to be an effective mentor or coach.
Effective coaches and mentors build relationships based on trust.
They know that trust is an essential component to helping their employees grow. Your employees will not be open to hearing your feedback and advice if they don’t trust that you have their best interest at heart. They need to know that you are both in this together. And that their success is just as important to you as your own.
This high level of trust allows great coaches to encourage development and nurture learning because their people believe that they are trying to help.
A person who has good skills in Employee Development and Coaching will be able to accurately identify the strengths and weaknesses of an individual. They then evaluate these traits against the requirements of a job or goal. And design a program that will effectively elevate that person’s skills to the level they need to achieve success.
A person with good abilities in Employee Development and Coaching partners with their employees in their development planning. Enabling the employee to take charge of their own growth and learning opportunities. You should serve as a guide and coach to others seeking development opportunities. Not as a director. It is essential that you learn to take a proactive approach to managing your employees. Taking responsibility for helping them develop their own strengths and improving on their weaknesses.
In contrast, a person who has poorly developed skills in this area may not take a proactive approach to management. And will fail to perceive the importance of planning ahead to develop contingent talent. Instead, that person will tend to be reactive, dealing only with the immediate needs at hand.
Feedback, both positive and negative, is a critical part of development and coaching.
Employees won’t know where they can improve and grow if you haven’t given them the feedback they need. Here again that high level of trust is needed. Effective feedback is delivered in both a caring and challenging way. Your employees need to know that you care about them as an individual. But you also can’t shy away from being direct and candid about where they can do better. Well-timed feedback encourages desirable behaviors and skills. It also helps people stay on track in their developmental process.
Those skilled in Employee Development and Coaching can quickly and easily build rapport with their direct reports and find out what they want out of life. They take the time to get to know each employee on an individual level and uncover their strengths and weaknesses. Then they use that knowledge to help the employee focus on their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Delivering the feedback needed throughout the process to keep the individual moving in the right direction.
To improve your Employee Development and Coaching skills, work with your employees to set goals.
Sit down with each of your direct reports and figure out what they want to work toward. What do they want out of life? Out of work? Start by helping them determine big, long-term, someday goals. What is their ideal future? Then work backward. What do they need to have accomplished in 10 years in order to reach that someday goal? How about 3 years? 1 year? This quarter? This month?
Goals are the guiding paths of our life. They help keep us moving in the right direction. And they help give purpose and meaning to our lives. Most people are not accustomed to setting and achieving goals so it may take some time for your employees to get comfortable with this process. Make sure that you don’t let them give up even if they hit some roadblocks along the way.
By investing time in helping them create concrete goals for their future, you’ll be helping them live a more intentional life. And you’ll also be showing that you truly care about them as a person. That’s really all coaching is, caring enough about the person to help them become a better version of themselves.
You can’t afford not to develop your employees.
Lest you’ve gotten all the way through this blog and think that this isn’t an important skill to develop, remember that your people are your most important asset. They are what makes your company unique. They are what sets you apart from your competition. And your company would be nowhere without them.
Employee Development and Coaching is an imperative part of your job as a leader. You owe it to your people to help them improve. They have chosen to spend the majority of their waking hours helping your company grow and move forward. The least you can do is return the favor.
Help them become the person they want to be. Both on and off the job. Doing so will create loyalty and improve productivity. But most importantly, it will help create happy people. People who actually enjoy what they do every day. What a concept.
If you’d like to learn more ways to develop your Employee Development and Coaching skills, download our Employee Development and Coaching Rx PDF here.