The newest onslaught of disengagement in the workforce is not the employees. It’s management.
On March 11, talent and career management firm Right Management released survey results that showed 68 percent of managers fail to engage in their employees’ career development. Only 17 percent of 616 employees polled between January 5 and March 3 said their managers have an active interest in their career development.
“Organizations should be doing everything they can to build the careers of their top talent to keep them engaged and onboard,” said Bram Lowsky, executive vice president of Right Management, in a press release.
Unfortunately, the survey results point to a different reality. As front-line supervisors, managers have the power to help their employees move into an organization’s leadership pipeline. But sometimes managers need the right push from a learning leader to successfully shepherd these future leaders to the next place in their careers.
One way chief learning officers can improve managerial engagement is by teaching coaching skills. It takes work, but it can result in more engaged employees who are more likely to stay and continue contributing their skills to an organization.
“Coaching is referred to as evocative; it pulls out from the individual what’s needed,” said Matt Poepsel, vice president of product management for hiring and employee development firm PI Worldwide. “It’s not as intuitive as managing can seem to be.”
Poepsel said there are five steps managers can use to coach their employees.
1. Enroll: Come to a shared agreement with the employee on what goals will be accomplished during the coaching period.
2. Envision: Delineate what the coach role looks like and how it can help employees achieve their career goals.
3. Establish: Create plans and actions that can help achieve that career goal. Identify any blind spots and have a concrete plan written in pencil, not pen — adaptability is important.
4. Execute: “We’re not talking about executing a plan day-to-day,” Poepsel said. “Priorities change and work happens. How well are you following through?” Coaches are responsible for bringing employees back to the plan and making them accountable for working toward it, even in times of transition.
5. Evaluate: Find out if an employee feels like a more natural leader. What’s working and not working? A change in plan or vision might be necessary. If the employee has achieved his or her objective, re-enroll with a new goal.
Such actions aren’t always needed, however. “Some people emerge as natural coaches,” Poepsel said. “It’s instinctive, and it’s happening in many organizations by chance.”
Sam Davis, vice president of customized consulting solutions at the American Management Association, said managers may find themselves in coaching situations every day, whether they know it or not. The trick is to make sure they do it right — creating mutual trust to make employees comfortable sharing their goals, promoting a conversational atmosphere and focusing on clearly defined milestones.
“Every manager has a responsibility to be a coach,” Davis said. “That’s imperative if you expect to have a staff that can achieve all they have the opportunity to achieve.”