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Coaching Employees Through a Time of Change

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Change is always unnerving. It can be daunting to try to create change in the workplace, especially when there are employees who have grown comfortable with the longstanding processes. It is often simply easier to revert to what they have always done. What is the difference now? The shift to remote work seems more and more like a long-term plan. As a result, employers and employees alike need to adapt.

We need to consider how managers can adjust to support their employees without micromanaging. Serving as coaches provides an opportunity to stay involved in the work of their employees without being overbearing. A coach provides support to employees while avoiding interference. A coach guides his or her employees as they adapt to the new workflow. 

Coaching with Compassion

Compassion creates a positive environment which leads to higher levels of achievement. As a compassionate coach, you will help your employees get into the right mindset. Coaching with compassion is a bit ambiguous, though. What does it look like in practice? Compassion must be genuine because it is easy to recognize when it is not. Ask open ended questions and display curiosity to help the employee unlock his or her personal vision.

When a coachable moment presents itself, many managers default to problem solving. They drill down into the problem and then offer advice and solutions. Rather than solving their problem for them, a compassionate coach will conduct what is known as a humble inquiry. This requires you to set aside your own biases, assumptions, and experience. Demonstrate sincere interest in the employee, convey empathy for their situation, communicate that you want to help, and then let them do at least 80% of the talking. This approach will build confidence in the employee and give them ownership of the solution.

Create Feedback Loops

We cannot assume that employees will adapt on their own. Coaching ensures that expected behaviors are being enforced in a positive and supportive way.

Providing regular feedback is essential for high performance. It offers a medium to address issues on an ongoing basis and provides opportunities for employees to learn and improve. Positive feedback encourages employees to make the extra effort and find ways that improve the way work is done.

It is important to establish time for the employee to offer feedback as well. It lets the employee know that their voice is important and that they will be heard. This side of the feedback loop can help you determine where there are gaps in your approach to coaching. Through feedback, you help your team work effectively under pressure by encouraging communication, and guiding team members to the resources they need to make decisions. 

Create a Clear Vision

A clear vision creates a sense of purpose for your team. Employees need to understand what the future holds and how it affects them. Your clear vision will then give a framework to focus on the individual’s strengths and goals to ensure that he or she remains aligned with the overall goals of your team.

The vision also creates a sense of purpose for your team. When your employees understand the bigger picture, they can see how their individual efforts contribute to the greater purpose of the team. This can be a powerful motivational tool.

Involve Employees in the Change Process

When it is time for you to implement a change, it is wise to involve employees in the process. When it makes sense to include employees in the planning and design process, doing so will create buy-in. Engaged employees provide valuable insight to any change process. As with feedback, it shows them that you value their input and it can play a pivotal role in fostering a positive outlook to change. You will also want to empower your employees who have been part of the change process to train other members of your team. When this happens, you will move from managing change into the world of inspiring change.

Written by Sarah Chesla

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