Ten Ways to Coach Commitment from Employees
Just because you hire an employee with a great education and the right skills, there's no guarantee the person will be successful. On the other hand, some employees with just average credentials excel. So what enables and drives people to succeed?
“Commitment—pledging yourself to a certain purpose—is one of the most important factors in individual success,” believes Norma Elliott, a vice president with First Federal Savings Bank (Elizabethtown, KY). “Commitment ignites action in employees and is ultimately able to hold them accountable for their actions.”
Uncover Employees' Passions and Goals
Coaching commitment from your employees is grounded in uncovering their passions and goals. Elliott offers these 10 tips:
1. Believe in your employees. You hired them to do a job. They possess certain skills, knowledge, and experience, so let them do the job they were hired to do, knowing that they will do their best. Your job is to provide them with the resources (training, equipment, etc.) they need.
2. Honor employees' commitments. “No one is an employee in a vacuum,” emphasizes Elliott. “Employees have families, relationships, hobbies, education, and commitments outside of work.” Learn about their outside worlds and be flexible enough to accommodate schedule variances due to these outside commitments. Your staff will pay you back with extra loyalty.
3. Know the strengths and weaknesses of each employee. This will enable you to assign employees tasks that reinforce their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses by offsetting them with others' strengths. For example, don't ask a shy, retiring employee to make public speeches or put an extrovert in a cubicle away from their peers.
4. Acknowledge employees' achievements. When a staff member accomplishes a task, let them know it and praise them publicly. “Thank your staff verbally and with other rewards/awards, but do so only when you mean it,” says Elliott. A handwritten note expressing your appreciation goes far in building a strong relationship and mutual respect. E-mail cards are fun, too!
5. Be grateful for employees' contributions. Unless proven otherwise, assume your employees are trying their best—even when they don't quite get it right. Thank them for their efforts and coach them to do better next time.
6. Let your employees do the work, but don't be afraid to get in the trenches with them. Empower your staff by letting them do their own jobs, even give them opportunities to stretch and grow their skills. “But when the going gets tough, or they are overwhelmed, offer assistance,” advises Elliott. “And always be willing to roll up your sleeves and do the same work alongside them.”
7. Let your employees help you. Don't try to do all of the work yourself. Delegate the nitty-gritty tasks, as well as some of your glamour jobs. Invite employees to participate in meetings that they normally don't attend. The more of your work others can do, the more freedom and time you will have to improve your own work and balance your life.
8. Give employees an opportunity to fail. “Sometimes we learn best by our own mistakes—don't deprive your staff of this opportunity,” Elliott continues. “But once a mistake or failure has occurred, don't hold it against them—help them learn from it and move on.”
9. Talk straight to employees. If there is a problem, don't dance around the issue. Let them know you have concern, then discuss ways you can partner to develop a workable solution. The employee will be more likely to own the problem if he or she also owns the solution and has some say in the matter. Then listen without any agenda except to really hear and understand what they are saying, and maybe what they are NOT saying.
10. Let your employees grow—and sometimes let them go. Encourage your employees to pursue professional and personal growth opportunities. Give them opportunities and challenges to grow. “And, if one day, an employee outgrows your organization, give them your blessing and part company as politely and professionally as possible so your former employee gives you a good reference, too,” says Elliott.
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