Coaching Employees Isn’t Easy

I used to hate coaching employees. It would always turn into an awkward conversation. I would stumble around and be afraid to be honest with them.

Being honest is not easy, but it’s vital to helping someone do more of the work that energizes them. If the conversations are shallow and there is no depth you don’t get to know each other. If you don’t form a deeper bond then there is no trust. You can’t be honest without trust. You tiptoe around each other instead of helping each other grow.

“There’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. Decide on one place and dig deep. Even if you encounter a rock, use dynamite and keep going down. If you leave that to dig another well, all the first effort is wasted and there is no proof you won’t hit rock again.” Swami Satchidananda

I had a client tell me, “I hate coaching my employees. It’s always awkward.” 

The memories around difficult conversations can be pretty painful. The idea is to break through these issues, go a little deeper and watch the magic happen. Make sure not to let go of your curiosity. When you watch what happens try not to get too caught up in wanting to confirm your hypothesis. 

I had a client, Lauren, who struggled retaining her admins. Once we dug into the issues I began to see a pattern. Their expectations were far apart. This is a common issue with many employees. They think the job will be one thing and it ends up being a lot different.

This conversation with Lauren got me thinking that there needed to be more calibration with the manager and their employees. This is especially important with assistants. An administrative assistant should be able to anticipate situations and understand the person they are supporting very well. They will only do this well if they feel understood and appreciated by their manager. It requires a lot of trust and understanding. 

If we can learn to calibrate our struggles with our opportunities, we avoid mistakes. The same thing happens with two people who work together. We need to listen to each other. What is weighing ourselves down and what is weighing our teammates down. The only way we can utilize our strengths is helping them align their work with their opportunities. If they are bored they will often do lousy work. If they feel connected to the work and they find opportunities for personal growth, they will do great work.

I struggled to keep admins as well. It wasn’t until I dug deep with them that I understood what they wanted from our relationship. Before I onboard someone to my team I explain who I am and my mission. I ask them what their growth goals are and who they are. I have a whole process for this, but we can talk about this later. 

Once you understand how to build a solid foundation with new and current employees then it makes you and the employee more productive.

Next time you are irritated by a mistake from a teammate, use this as an opportunity to get curious. Dig into what is going on with them and see if there are any opportunities to grow and improve as a leader. When we take 100% responsibility for our relationships then we are more honest with ourselves. We see the mistakes we make and learn from them instead of taking the easy way out and blaming our teammate.

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