If you want to be employee centric than you have to understand what your employees would like and one message that consistently comes through is that an employee wants a coach not a boss. There are fundamental differences between the two, and most organizations are structured to enable bosses and not coaches. The traditional command and control, top down mentality creates hierarchy and bosses, not coaches and high performance. A boss is someone who is tasked with telling someone what to do, a coach as manager sees it as their job to provide them with the tools to do it. A boss is focused on making sure tasks are completed, a coach utilizes the strengths and weaknesses of the team to ensure they are delivered in the best possible way. A boss corrects or punishes mistakes from employees, a coach sees mistakes as learning opportunities to improve performance. So how can firms embed coaching into the DNA of the organization?

What is the employees career goals?

When career development is discussed, a common mistake made is that HR and management confuse career development with promotions. They are not the same thing. The starting point for any employee coaching has to be to sit down with the employee and understand where they actually want to go. There are employees that have no desire to be managers, but who want to instead become an expert within their field. There are employees that want to switch into other industries. There are others that want your job and some who want to simply pay the bills and be home with the family every night at a reasonable hour. All employees are different and without actually understanding where they want to go, you can’t help them to get there.

How self-aware is the employee?

Once the employee has outlined their personal goals, the next step is to have them self-evaluate their skill and knowledge gaps and how they could overcome them. For example, I have had a mature employee who was worried they would not be able to find work in the future, because they did not have any digital skills. Therefore, they needed opportunities to develop digital skills and felt getting involved in some of the digital transformation efforts in the team would be helpful. Another, wanted to sit on the Senior Leadership team one day, but had never managed anyone and so identified an opportunity to set up lunch and learn sessions with more junior members of staff to help them develop the skills required. This self-evaluation is very important as it helps create ownership and purpose. The employee is telling you what they want to do, and how they can do it.

Build this development in to their performance review goals

The next step is to then build this into an employee’s goals for the year. So, if I use my examples above, the employee wanting to develop digital skills has to support on at least one digital project and the other must set up and run a lunch and learn coaching session regularly. This is about empowering the employee to feel that they are in control of their own career and able to proactively enhance it. There are of course examples where there may be no digital projects for example. In an instance such as this, you then ask the employee to attend industry events and do research and find a tool that can help automate their current workload. I have had employees do this in the past and a simple Google search will list dozens of possibilities.

Coach them to succeed

Finally, HR and management coach the employees to achieve their goals. This is not about providing them with the answers, but instead asking the right questions and guiding them in the right directions so that they can find the answers for themselves. Its important to not slip in to “telling” mode here as it takes away the sense of accomplishment and pride an employee will have, by figuring it out themselves. The confidence that an employee gains from figuring it out themselves, is a great catalyst for further growth. They wanted to do something, they didn’t know how, but they sought some guidance, figured it out and achieved it. They will then take this into the next task and believe they have the power to do more. This results in both a happy employee and a more productive employee. Everyone wins.