Motivating Employees to Create Employee Engagement Through Daily Coaching by Stephanie Jones
Employee Engagement is a major “buzz word” in organizations today. There are thousands of surveys giving statistics for the percentages of employees that are or are not engaged. Often these statistics are conflicting offering different results based on who conducted the survey and who was surveyed. One thing every survey conducted agrees upon with regards to employee engagement: what the consequences and benefits are in creating employee engagement. Employee Engagement reduces turnover. The costs in replacing employees that exit the company are higher than the existing employees’ yearly salary. Creating employee engagement has an effect on turnover and retention measurements. Engaged employees produce more and perform better. Engaged employees provide higher levels of customer service, creating loyal and long term customers. Employee engagement programs drive cost savings, generate sales increases and increase customer satisfaction. All these things lead to bigger and better results for your unit/division and the company.
What is an engaged employee? An engaged employee understands how their actions affect the unit/divisions result. They deliver discretionary effort to improve results. Discretionary effort is doing more than the expected norm. Front Line Managers lead the charge for employee engagement. Daily feedback is important to drive employee engagement. According to a recent online employee engagement survey by cloud based talent management solutions provider Silk Road 98% of employees will change their behavior with informal feedback. Only 2% will change their behavior with formal feedback – yearly evaluations. And of the 98% approximately 97% will buy in to the feedback if it is given through coaching and not direct tell methods. It’s important that the front line manager understand the role they play in communicating to the employees how their actions drive results everyday not just during the performance review cycle. The purpose of the annual performance review is to change behavior, and the performance reviews are undeniably ineffective in obtaining that end. Real behavior change is the result of daily interactions between manager and employee. At best, the performance review focuses on the effects of employee behavior on some performance result. Employee behavior is not changed in a review; it is changed in the work setting. It is changed through coaching sessions.
According to Managers are Heroes blog: there’s no bigger blow to employee engagement than blindsiding workers with problems they could have known about sooner. Employees shouldn’t just learn about performance issues in an annual evaluation. A good rule of thumb is that you should be meeting with all of your direct reports – one-on-one – at least once a week. By having those regular meetings, the communication channels are opened up – allowing for regular, informal performance conversations. In these conversations front line managers have the opportunity to share with employees the role the front line employee plays in leading customer interactions, in creating customer satisfaction, and in improving results.
As a leader and manager, one of your primary responsibilities is to get your employees to produce desirable results through specific behaviors. To do this, many times you have to get them to actually change their behavior patterns. The key principle to understand in changing employees’ behavior is that you can’t change it for them; they must change it themselves. According to the organization Leadership Management International the following principles will help the front line leader in coaching employees to change behavior:
I. Identify the Desired Behavior. To help you identify the desired behavior remember behavior is something the employee does. Attitudes and feelings aren’t behavior. The behavior must be specific and easy to understand. The behavior must be easy to measure accurately. When coaching behavior tie the specific behavior to the results generated, that is how appropriate behavior is measured.
II. Communicate the Behavior You Want Through Coaching Daily. Be sure the employee understands what you expect in terms of the specific behavior you want, the benefits of mastering the behavior, the consequences of not executing the behavior. Spend more time praising desired behavior than criticizing unwanted behavior.
III. Encourage Positive Productive Behaviors. Form the habit of complimenting your employees for their accomplishments to reinforce desirable behavior. Even though an inept employee behaves as you want about 80%of the time, most managers tend to reinforce behavior in the opposite ratio. They give strokes honestly and unconditionally. Don’t give them and take them away by adding comments such as “that was great, but I know you can do better.”
IV. Dealing with the Consequences: Reinforce the desired behavior. With reinforcement, the employee will adopt the new behavior. Without it, the past behavior will return. In the absence of positive and/or negative reinforcement, you will get behavior at the minimum acceptable level to pass an annual evaluation. Give a warning and remind the employee of the new behavior you expect. Give frequent feedback on the spot. Don’t wait! Don’t store up criticisms.
With these principles in mind, coaching daily helps employees “buy in” to the need to change their behaviors. If the front line manager uses the right types of coaching the idea for behavior change becomes the front line employee’s idea. As soon as employees “buy in” then you have sustainable behavioral change. With sustainable behavioral change you gain long term customer satisfaction and performance results. How does the Front Line Manage learn how to coach employees to drive employee engagement? According to T+D Magazine training and development practitioners need to become brokers of knowledge by providing tools and resources that give an employee’s an opportunity to engage. To generate employee engagement HR departments with the learning and development team have an obligation to the company to train front line managers on coaching techniques. The front line manager deals directly with the customer. They have the biggest impact on the customer service delivered. Teaching the front line manager how to coach reaps rewards in terms of positive customer relationships.
The positive reinforcement method of “One Minute Praise” is modeled after Kenneth Blanchard’s – One Minute Manager. This technique ties specific behaviors with results. It’s an easy technique to learn but is used the least. Most managers know what’s wrong and are unaware how positively reinforcing behaviors can drive results faster and easier than pointing out what’s wrong. In actuality “One Minute Praise” should be used more often and daily. This technique builds a relationship between the front line manager and front line employee. It builds trust between the manager and the employee, the employee believes that the manager believes in them and is helping them become successful. Creating that relationship makes other types of coaching easier for the front line manager.
Often an employee has good intentions and is trying to do the right behaviors but may be unsure of exactly what to do. Perhaps the employee is doing many things right but results could be better. To raise the bar on performance front line managers must know how to provide 2 – 4 minute feedback. This type of feedback uses the questioning process to ensure employees “buy in” to behavior change. The manager starts by complimenting a specific behavior the employee exhibits to reinforce their positive “I’m here to help you” relationship built through one minute praise. Then the manager asks open ended questions using the funnel method to narrow down what the employee is struggling with. When the employee tells the manager their opportunity they can’t argue if the manager agrees. Finally in this technique the manager offers some ideas on how the employee can improve.
When an employee exhibits behavior that negatively affects the guest experience the manager must address it. It’s easy for the manager to tell the employee what they are doing wrong. However, this direct tell method erodes the trust previously built. Managers must use coaching techniques called Formal Redirection or Immediate Redirection to maintain the trust between the employee and the manager. Open ended questions following the funnel method are as important in this coaching style as before. It maintains employee “buy in’ to coaching. In this technique it is imperative to teach the manager how to identify the incorrect behavior, what the desired behavior is and how they gain the employees commitment to changing their behavior.
Sometimes no matter how much coaching a manager provides employees still refuse to change their behavior. The coaching method to deal with that scenario is termed a Change Interview. In this technique it is important to restate the behavior expectations and state the consequences both positive and negative for the desired change in behavior. Addressing negative behavior is critical to drive sustainable behavioral change. What is sustainable behavioral change – it is behavior change that happens not only when the manager is watching.
Sustainable behavioral change is what happens when employees understand how their behavior affects the big picture. When employees feel they make a difference then they apply discretionary into achieving the goals. When they buy into their feedback the end result is employee engagement. Sustainable behavioral change occurs when informal feedback is given frequently through effective coaching. Training Front Line Managers on effective coaching techniques will ultimately be the biggest driver to creating and employee engagement and engaged employees exceed customer expectations driving results. Organizations should focus training efforts on Front Line Managers and their ability to coach and provide feedback every day to the front line employee that deals directly with the customer to drive customer satisfaction and generate “raving fans”.