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Amid the many competing demands leaders face today, good managers prioritize staying connected to their employees. They take note of workplace successes and watch for red flags that might signal that a worker has become disengaged or disinterested. Adding additional layers of complexity to this meaningful connection, over the past year managers have faced extra challenges when trying to stay engaged with employees. Most communication has been limited to virtual formats, often via video screen or phone and instant message. With communication adopting a less immediate form, how can managers keep employees engaged and champion performance?
While technology can sometimes serve as a reminder of the physical distances between managers and employees, some emerging HR software promises to facilitate deeper discussions that lead to more meaningful connections. Advanced coaching tools can provide tailored suggestions based on individual employees to help managers guide them down effective paths forward in their career journeys. This form of coaching takes some of the burden off of the manager and helps provide targeted, customized actions specific to each respective employee they lead.
Ideally, the result will be a more productive discussion between manager and worker. Instead of treating a check-in like a status update, managers can come to a weekly check-in conversation armed with insights from world-class coaches to guide more meaningful conversations, ready to delve into a real conversation on topics tailored to each individual team member.
For example, each week ADP’s new StandOut Coaching Intelligence tool serves up customized talking points based on an individual’s strengths and what that individual shares in the StandOut platform during the Check-In. These talking points, available for every Check-In, every week, are meant to drive deeper conversations between a leader and an individual, helping the leader to take action and provide frequent, meaningful attention relevant to the team member’s experience. Coaching Intelligence helps managers focus on core issues and lets employees know they’re being heard. These deeper conversations can help foster stronger engagement and keep employees feeling connected with their work and the company.
One company, Arc’teryx, has been leveraging these insights to better engage and manage employees across experience levels. Jessica O’Dowd, employee experience manager at Arc’teryx, shares, “Coaching Intelligence offers specific, relevant coaching tips that help our People Leaders ground each week’s check-in conversations in what matters most to their team members. For our more seasoned People Leaders, it provides fresh ideas on how to engage with their team members, and for those that are newer it provides meaningful, actionable insight into how to make the most of check-in conversations. It adds to a leader’s coaching toolkit, no matter how long they’ve been in their role. The impact across the company is that we raise the bar for a more consistent and intentional leadership experience – for People Leaders and team members, alike.”
Some coaching software goes beyond discussion facilitation by assessing workers’ strengths to help team leaders nurture and focus them in the right direction. This customized approach can help set employees up for further successes by leveraging their specific skill sets and proclivities. According to Gallup research, 70 percent of employee engagement is attributable to the team leader. Additionally, research from ADP Research Institute shows team members are up to 3.5 times more likely to be fully engaged at work when they receive regular attention from their team leaders.
Certainly, tools like StandOut Coaching Intelligence are not meant to replace the real-life connection and support for workers that managers provide. Rather, the differentiator is the human factor of the leader to inspire those conversations that drive engagement and performance. StandOut Coaching Intelligence can help inform the way forward by providing open-ended talk tracks based on the work taking place and the individual’s persona, coupled with expert insights from real coaches, to guide more meaningful conversations.
As we continue toward a post-pandemic world of work, team leaders will continue to be challenged with how to connect authentically with individuals – whether remotely or in person, and regardless of whether they are seasoned leaders or first-time managers. The needs of workers – and the demand for employers to support their wellbeing and individual circumstances – are continuing to evolve as well. For managers to keep employees engaged, personalized connections are key, no matter what mode they take.