A Coach’s Perspective
Professional Coaches hold a unique position in organisations as an external provider we come in to our engagement to support significant, positive outcomes. We listen and facilitate expansive thinking in a safe one on one or team environment, so we get a google earth view of the organisation. From where I have sat for the last 11 years I am constantly reaffirming my views that the focus needs to shift from engagement to connection as the connection will bring you engagement in spades.
Is creating an engaged workforce as simple as having continual conversations? Making people the priority amongst the never-ending competing priorities, is it about having the courage to take the time to connect with your people through meaningful, regular dialogue?
I believe so, if those conversations are authentic and intentional if the leader is genuine and can create safety for honest communication to take place and shows real interest in others my experience and observations are people connect and engage with their leader, their team and their work.
These regular conversations create clarity, confidence and connection but they are often the first thing to go in busy times. I regularly hear “I don’t have enough time with my manager, I haven’t had a one on one meeting with my manager for months, my manager is too busy to see me,” it goes on. I listen to disgruntled employees who don’t feel valued because they are regularly the first meeting to be moved by their manager, which in turn can quickly lead to disengagement.
Having an organisation where their leaders place importance in taking the time to authentically connect regularly, to be curious and to truly listen without judgement, to understand what is important to their people and acting on the feedback received will almost certainly create and increase employee engagement.
Having an engaged workforce is the holy grail that all organisations strive for. Many studies have been done to understand the complexity of keeping staff happy, productive and motivated. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/special-reports-and-expert-views/Documents/Research%20Overview%20Employee%20Engagement.pdf
Lots of data have been collected highlighting the cost of disengagement. https://recruitloop.com/blog/much-can-disengaged-employees-cost-business-infographic/
Organisational Performance experts are constantly searching for the best tool, strategy and training to keep staff engaged with the very best of intentions.
If you look at the data relationships, trust and connection are at the top of the list in terms of employee engagement feedback. So rather than spending time and money on initiatives to keep staff happy would it not be a worthwhile experiment to see what is achieved if the focus shifted and the energy was put into quality regular conversations.
Over the years it has become acutely obvious that a high portion of people in leadership roles don’t know how to effectively engage and connect with their workforce. They struggle to see value in regular one on ones and feel awkward having these conversations. They see them as the soft skills, the non-essential nice to do rather than the priority.
However, once they have been taught the skills and have a greater awareness of the significance of these connection opportunities and how best to facilitate them we see significant outcomes for the leader and their team.
I was interviewed by a PhD candidate from the University of Newcastle conducting a study on the effects coaching has on leaders. What they wanted to know was why coaching gets such significant outcomes, why is it more effective than other types of professional development? The answer to that is found in the connection and the relationship that is formed with regular one on one sessions over a period that fosters a partnership of trust and connection. We work with organisations to replicate this proven and effective formula.