Communicate, Listen and Coach to Earn Employee Trust
A friend’s son, an engineer who has been working from home since COVID, was recently approached by his manager. The manager stated that leadership was encouraging everyone to return to work at the office. The young engineer, soon to become a new father, needed more work flexibility, not less. He let his manager know he wanted to continue remote working and noted that his record of working from home supported his productivity. The manager nodded approval, even asking the young engineer to refer engineer friends as the company was expanding its workforce to respond to customer needs.
Employment is more complicated today than ever. While indications point to the US economy being in recession, the jobless rate remains near all-time lows. As some industries enter a recessionary mode, others have more projects than they have employees to work on them; hence, worker overload.
Many organizations are struggling to find employees fast enough; others are cutting back or bracing for a recession by not replacing people who leave. As a result, pressure is building on employees: Some may choose to join the Great Resignation and leave for rewarding opportunities that give them the flexibility they desire; some may adopt Quiet Quitting and refuse to take on additional duties without extra pay; and some may choose to stand firm and negotiate for the work and salaries they want. In this employment environment, it’s not uncommon to find segments of the workforce overwhelmed or fearful, which can lead to operational issues and customer dissatisfaction.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
Three actions organizational leaders can take to maximize retention and engagement are communicate, listen, and coach.
Communicate: In good times and bad, a communications cadence is critical. Publicly traded companies inform investors quarterly about what’s happening in the business and review financial results. There is no hiding as industry competitors are doing the same; a public scorecard of results can easily be examined to determine winners and losers.
Arming managers with quarterly communications decks and talking points they can use to inform their teams about what’s going well and where areas of opportunity exist is a great way to start. Regular communications demonstrate transparency and build trust. Privately held companies and other organizations also can provide a quarterly snapshot of industry trends, enterprise performance to goals and comparisons to the last year’s same quarter results, even if detailed financial data isn’t shared. Lack of communication can fester rumors and allow employees to shape their own narratives, especially during bad times.
Listen: Communication is a two-way street. Managers who listen well understand what employees need and want, and connect better with employees in general. Front-line employees are the best sources for ideas to improve many work-related issues. Championing the ideas that come out of active listening sessions can shape communications that better address employee and customer desires. When employees experience their managers listening and acting on their input, engagement improves, and trust is built.
In the story shared above, the manager listened to the employee and understood the young engineer’s desire to continue working from home and his need for greater flexibility. The manager also acknowledged that the employee had a built a strong record and even asked if he had any referrals to provide. A conversation that started out in an uncomfortable manner ended in allowing employee flexibility that also met the organization’s expectations. Listening helps find win-win solutions.
Coach: Using a coaching framework of asking questions, active listening and getting insights into how employees would best approach issues enables a more creative, engaged workforce and produces better results. Coaching—as opposed to telling people what to do—develops a more capable workforce. Great managers ask questions, provide encouragement and enable their teams to see more perspectives. A coaching approach allows for choices to be made that lead to better outcomes. It also encourages inclusivity as leaders trained in coaching techniques seek input from all.
It’s commonly said that “employees don’t leave a company; they leave their manager.” Managers who communicate well, listen to employees and coach their teams demonstrate trust and have greater engagement, retention and organizational results.
How can executive coaching help you and your leadership team improve communication, listening and coaching to earn employee trust and get the results you and your employees seek?
Lance Hazzard, PCC, CPCC, is an Executive Team Coach and a Certified Executive Coach helping people and organizations achieve success. Lance and Eric T. Hicks, Ph.D., co-authored Accelerating Leadership, published in June 2019. Lance is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. More information on the book, Lance and Oppnå® Coaching can be found at the links below: