The nine questions to initiate engagement that all managers need to know.
Be an engaging coach, not a boring boss
Every good manager wants tips to engage and empower employees. Managers of all kinds are redefining their traditional roles as organisations become aware of the cost of an unengaged workforce. Globally, we see a leadership emphasis on the manager as coach.
Good coaches are competent questioners. Questions help to initiate both thinking and action. No longer are employees satisfied with glib management phrases. To be successful and effective leaders, they must be active thinkers, doers, and listeners. You want to hook their minds, not bore them into disengagement and disinterest.
An engaged and empowered employee can lift the culture in every workplace because they are motivated to work with passion and they feel a profound connection with their company. They drive innovation and move the company forward, and on average, have a 51% higher productivity rate.
Here are nine coaching strategies to create an engaging environment at work. Your job as a coach is to use appropriate questions to activate each of these strategies.
Give regular and frequent feedback
Providing only an annual performance review is no longer effective, as employees prefer feedback to be more frequent and specific. Feedback is most valuable when it is both immediate and corrective. When giving feedback, first ask permission to give feedback. An employee’s agreement increases their willingness to hear the feedback and participate in discussion and corrections.
An appropriate opening question is: “Would you be willing to receive some feedback right now?”
Create a culture of team feedback
Team engagement creates a culture of 360º feedback, where everyone is willing to give and receive feedback. Once teams are trained to deliver feedback, they can start with the opening question from the first strategy above.
You can encourage participation with this question: “Have you been seeking support and feedback from your colleagues?”
Push employees to their attainable limits
Bored employees are more likely to become disengaged – they need challenges to grow.
Ask this question to get the ball rolling: “What support do you need from me to push you to your next level?”
Be open to ideas and opinions.
Listening is an essential part of coaching. When employees feel that their opinion is respected and valued, they’re far more likely to be engaged and push harder.
An ideal question here is: “How would you do this differently/more efficiently/more effectively?”
Encourage learning from each other.
Every employee brings a diversity of experience, strengths, weaknesses, and points of view to a work environment. Tapping into well of knowledge will engender an engaged, innovative and productive workforce.
Encourage learning with the following question: “What can you learn from your colleagues that will help you grow in your role?”
Giving feedback and supporting constant improvement can become critical to instilling confidence. Research on the power of recognition shows it’s best when it is immediate, specific and appropriate to the individual. Your mantra should be ‘Recognise Progress’.
Acknowledgement can be quite simple without it appearing to be glib praise.
Try this: “Would you be willing to share your solution with the rest of the team?”
Let them do their jobs
Leaders are sometimes tempted to take over jobs if they see the pace slowing down or going off track. However, this is only ever a short-term solution. Instead of taking the task off your employees hands, show them how to handle the situation by offering guidance.
“What support do you need from other team members and me to get this assignment back on track?”
Handling mistakes and failures
Never leave a mistake or a failure unhandled. By doing this, you lower standards and performance expectations. Always debrief mistakes, initially from the employee’s point of view and then as an exercise in correcting for the future.
How to initiate this: “What and where do you consider it went wrong, and what would you suggest as the appropriate correction for the future?”
A clear goals map
If you hope to get everyone moving in the same direction, you need to show them where to go. Goals are the clearest way to do this. Encourage each employee to create personal goals that help them develop and further their careers, as well as contribute to the benchmarks of the team and the organisation as a whole.
Start with this question: “What do you want to achieve, and how can you make it work for you, your team and the organisation?”