Why coaching can help you retain your people

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Maybe it won’t surprise you, but studies show that 50% of people would fire their boss if they could. On top of that, 40% of employees between the ages of 24 and 35 are thinking about quitting their job.

Those are some pretty sobering statistics.

It seems that overall, we’re doing a shoddy job of keeping people engaged and supported at work. Over 53% of organisations right now are facing talent shortages. The Great Resignation is still affecting industries around the globe and, unless leadership improves, it will continue to be a problem for leaders and organisations alike.

But here’s where we can start making a huge difference without too much extra effort – by improving our coaching skills as leaders.

When managers coach their teams, there’s a 10-20% increase in employee satisfaction. Communication, collaboration and conflict management all improve by 50%. Productivity and business success goes through the roof too.

Unlike the sobering statistics I’ve quoted above, these statistics are much more upbeat and hopeful!

It makes a lot of sense – not just for your team, but also for your organisational success – to improve and increase your coaching practice as a leader. But what does that look like in reality? And where do you start?

It’s all about active listening and asking great questions

One of the fundamental principles of coaching is to do less talking and telling –  and do more listening and asking powerful questions. 

Although it’s a simple concept, for many of us, its harder to put into practice. ‘Advice giving’ feels good to the advice giver! And active listening is harder to nail than you think. But it’s a noble pursuit.

You’ve hired people for a reason. They’re probably smart, capable, and experienced in their field. But there are probably also a lot of thoughts, ideas and even concerns that they might be holding in – and these are the things that great coaching questions can help you uncover.

Some useful coaching questions to use liberally….

The goal of a great coaching question is to start a conversation that opens up new ways of thinking and deeper clarity. Try and stay away from closed questions or questions that make assumptions. For example, starting a conversation with a question like “Why don’t you like X?” locks the person answering into an apparent opinion about X before they’ve even started.

Instead, seek out open-ended questions that encourage introspection, but also point to specific outcomes. Here are a few go-tos that are great starting points for coaching conversations:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What does success look like in this situation? How will we know?
  • What do you want? (a simple, but powerful coaching question)
  • What are some potential roadblocks here? How do you get in your own way?
  • If any actions are possible, what would they be?
  • In a best-case scenario, what would X look like?
  • What is the drive for you? Why is this important to you?
  • If you can’t achieve X, what will that be like?
  • Where has this happened in the past?
  • What are our options?
  • What advice would you give to a friend if they were in the same situation?
  • What are the risks of X?
  • And what else?
  • What effect does that have? (on you/others/the organisation?)

Deepen your relationships and help your team members feel more connected, confident and clear about their role. The result will be a stronger, happier team that will stick around and keep adding value.

Author: Suzi McAlpine

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