2021 October

Coaching:  One Approach to Retaining Your Staff

by Jeremy Kauffman

Only 26 % of employees strongly agree that feedback helps them do better work

Only 2 out of 10 managers know how to coach employees.

87% of Millennials list professional growth and development opportunities as important in their job

The pressure to retain our employees continues to mount.  Large numbers of the workforce are leaving organizations for better opportunities, more flexibility, better work life balance, and higher pay.  This dynamic requires leaders to dedicate more time and resources to their team members in an effort build an environment that people desire, and lead to improved retention.  Studies continue to show that developing an engaged workforce produces better outcomes and motivates people to stay in their current jobs. 

A strategy that is often overlooked in improving engagement and retention is utilizing coaching with team members.  Coaching is not the same as managing and requires different skills and a reset of the way managers relate to people.  While many managers may feel they are coaching their team members, research shows that most managers are not effective coaches.  In a recent study, Gallup found that only 20% of managers know how to coach employees. 

So, what is coaching?  And how can we incorporate that approach into our organizations?

At the core of coaching is regular, consistent dialogue between supervisor and employee.  This two-way communication allows for each person to share how things are going from their perspective.  The supervisor does less directing, instead focusing on asking open-ended questions that allow employees to share and find the answers. Feedback that is given by the manager is in real-time, direct and simple.  Coaching should focus on development and not evaluation. 

Organizations interested in incorporating a coaching approach to leadership should first focus on managers.  Providing training on coaching techniques is key and will help managers feel more comfortable in using this approach.  Secondly, organizations must examine current processes and systems for feedback. Our old methods, such as established timeframes for evaluations, do not fit into a coaching mindset.  Third, managers must be given the time to spend with their teams.  Evaluating their workload to determine whether they have enough time for building effective relationships and providing frequent, productive feedback is critical.  Too often managers are required to complete too many routine tasks. Or they have to supervise so many people that it isn’t feasible to connect regularly with each of them.  And finally, managers must understand the expectations and be held accountable for using this new approach. 

Retention continues to be one of the greatest challenges that organizations face.  Our ability to fulfill our mission and purpose requires having a stable, engaged workforce. 

Coaching is one approach that should be considered as you develop your retention strategies.  The focus on relationships, positive feedback and personal development has the potential to engage your people and motivate them to stay.


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