Follow These Steps to Help Employees Thrive
Gen Xers, millennials and baby boomers may hold distinctly different views on many issues, but they share similar desires when it comes to their career goals. Across these generations, allowing some variance in ranking, the opportunity to make a positive impact on their organization is a common long-term career goal. Another top-five objective for each group is to do work they are passionate about.[i]
Therefore, it is paramount that leaders place high priority on understanding the talents, interests and career goals of their employees. Doing so helps leaders work with employees to establish objectives that are directly tied to career development and satisfaction, both of which have a positive impact on the organization and the individual employees.
As an executive coach and a former HR Leader, I have often found that leaders with the greatest impact on developing their teams use these five steps:
1. Be Curious. Successful leaders want to know the people who report to them. They begin by asking questions about their employees’ work and career goals. As they develop a relationship, they also get to know their employees on a broader, more personal basis. These leaders build on this foundation and seek to discover how they can help their employees achieve their goals.
2. Listen intently. Leaders who are curious listen silently to understand and acknowledge what they have heard. They tend to realize that the words listen and silent are made up of the exact same letters.
3. Provide feedback. For people to grow and develop they need to know what’s working well and what’s not. Impactful leaders provide timely and specific feedback when their team members do well, and they acknowledge success. They also provide constructive feedback and ask questions to involve employees in the answers and making the course corrections when things don’t go as planned.
Too often, managers and organizations provide performance feedback inconsistently or only as part of an annual process. This wastes opportunities to recognize success or improve performance in real time. Employees are frustrated when an issue from months ago resurfaces as part of their annual review or when they aren’t recognized for strong performance when it happens.
According to Korn Ferry, about 30 percent of firms don’t have clear and specific criteria set before performance reviews begin. Korn Ferry also highlights some of the differences research revealed about feedback received by men and women, concluding that 60 percent of men had feedback tied to business outcomes while only 40 percent of women did. [ii]
Impactful leaders provide clear feedback that is positive and developmental to help their employees grow, regardless of gender.
4. Coach. Being curious and listening intently (steps 1 & 2) enables leaders to better understand the work and career goals of their team members. Leaders who use coaching techniques as opposed to command and control methods gain trust with their team and get employees involved in the options and answers on how best to move forward and make the greatest impact on the organization.
5. Recognize success. Recognition matters. Employees want to know that their manager and organization understand when their contributions have made a positive difference. Recognition comes in many forms—personal thank you notes, highlighting someone in a team meeting, spot awards and promotions to a higher level, to name a few. Recognition is a powerful form of feedback and needs to be timely. How a leader recognizes success also demonstrates to the broader organization what’s important and needs to be tied into organizational or employee goal achievement.
We’ve all heard the saying, “People don’t leave organizations, they leave managers.” Progressive leaders understand that they succeed when their people succeed. The more people they help achieve their work and career goals, the more people in the organization will want to work for and with these leaders.
How can executive coaching help you or your organization grow a coaching culture where leaders help employees thrive?
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. Lance and Eric T. Hicks, Ph.D., co-authored the book, Accelerating Leadership, published in June 2019. More information can be found on the book, Lance and Oppnå® Coaching at the links below:
[i] What do Millennials Really Want at Work? The Same Things the Rest of Us Do, Harvard Business Review, April 7, 2016, Bruce N. Pfau
[ii] The New Roadblock for Women: Performance Reviews, Korn Ferry Institute, October 22, 2019, Debra A. Nunes and Jane Stevenson