I’ve recently heard from more than one colleague about work situations where talented people are undervalued, unacknowledged, even verbally abused by a senior manager. Apparently, this kind of negative behavior goes unaddressed because, “Gee, she not only made her numbers, but she surpassed them. No one is going to talk to her about how she manages her people.” The reality is that everyone in her department is looking”—searching for a position elsewhere. And some have already found one.
Let’s get back to the bottom line here. In fact, retention is a critical metric in a company’s overall performance. The cost to fill a professional or management position can easily be 100-250% of the annual salary of that position. Numerous studies have demonstrated that “revolving door” companies eventually have problems with financial performance.
Low employee engagement has also been shown to also have serious financial impact on companies. Low engagement (and disengagement) affects individual and team performance, absenteeism, creativity, and innovation. The quality and output of the business’s services and products will suffer, as will customer retention and growth, which of course, can be measured…in the bottom line.
Coaching can help both employees and managers address the difficult working relationship that is affecting performance. How? Coaching is a process that involves critical listening and powerful questioning to help individuals and teams reframe and deepen their thinking to meet challenges and identify actions to grow, change, and improve on the status quo.
A coaching engagement often begins with a 360 assessment. This in-depth tool allows a variety of stakeholders to respond to the same questions about a person’s performance. Themes and trend lines usually surface to suggest strengths and weaknesses, and coaching can then focus on building on the strengths and identifying areas for improvement. It’s hard to argue with consensus.
A critical first step is to get senior management to receognize the value of an assessment and the impact that coaching an have on changing/improving behavior. But wait, I just said that she’s exceeding her numbers. How can we get her senior manager’s attention in this case?
Well, there is power in numbers. We’re not talking mutiny here, but a proactive coaching intervention with a disgruntled team to address their situation and work through things with their manager.
If that’s an improbable scenario, then individuals can use some coaching techniques to peer-coach one another, or seek their own coach independently to help them explore how they can draw on their own skills and strengths to “manage up,” or even consider other options.
Coaching can be very effective in difficult situations because it places value on people and encourages behaviors that demonstrate that people matter.
Please share your own experience or knowledge of how coaching has impacted healthier working relationships.
If you found this post helpful, check out “About the Book” on this blog, and order yourself a copy of “What could happen if you do nothing?” A manager’s handbook for coaching conversations.