With rampant levels of uncertainty surrounding the current American economy, organizational anxiety is at an all-time high. Discussions about layoffs, or simply cutting back on hiring, are creating uneasy work environments for all stakeholders, and people generally don’t perform well when they’re fearful. Yet, some companies thrive during recessions while their competitors do poorly. I believe that the differentiator between these businesses is a culture founded on feedback and performance management, driving employee engagement and efficiency.
In times of economic downturn, leaders cannot afford for performance management to be a compromise. Further, performance management conversations should not just occur once per year, during employees’ annual reviews. Employers and associates need to consistently have exchanges about performance, creating workplace cultures that enable employees to flourish and companies to evolve.
In my experience, employee training, goal setting, and feedback drive retention, help workers develop stronger skill sets, and create company-wide passion. All of these employee investments enable an organization to collaborate, innovate, and expand while its competitors are focused on cutting costs. Leaders must focus on taking an individualized approach to performance management while keeping in mind that it is vital to invest in the development of employees’ soft skills in addition to their hard skills. This is where a coaching can support companies in establishing a more personalized, modern, and effective approach to performance management. Here are three ways that organizational coaching can aid leaders in their performance management pursuits:
Defining leading vs. managing
With the help of coaching, supervisors are able to work one-on-one with coaches to up-level their management skills, learn the difference between leading versus managing, and obtain the tools needed to transform into a leader. As a result of their coaching conversations, leaders are able to understand the importance of evaluating the compatibility of associates with their company’s culture, communication expectations, critical thinking needs, and more. Supervisors who consider both the productivity and suitability of their employees can more adequately lead their teams and contribute to the evolution of their organizations.
Helping leaders recognize employees’ individualized needs
Coaches teach lifelong professional skills such as empathetic listening, organizational communication, and unique leadership styles which prepare leaders to meet the specific requirements of employees. When supervisors use the tactics they have learned from coaching to listen to their workers during performance discussions, they can analyze how to best support their training and development in uniquely-fitted manners that showcase to employees that their needs and goals are important, establishing trust and setting employees up for long-term professional success. By communicating clearly and frequently, leaders and employees can create individually manageable, measurable, and accurate objectives based on employees’ personal capabilities and capacities. They can also discuss the long-term suitability of their professional partnership in a judgment-free manner, reducing the stress associated with formal performance evaluations.
Establishing transparent dialogue between employers and employees
In order to establish a strong foundation for feedback conversations, leaders and employees must learn or co-create a common language to have effective conversations. This language equips both parties to speak vulnerably about difficult subjects such as unmet needs, performance expectations, or perceived compatibility in a respectful and understandable manner, preventing the potential for misinterpretation or hurt feelings. Coaching supports employers and employees by teaching tools like clearing conversations, which contribute to more successful feedback conversations or performance discussions. These conversations are extremely conducive to a happy, healthy, and productive workplace, leaving both parties with a better understanding of how the other comprehends and responds to certain situations and helping them avoid future breakdowns in communication.
Inspiring Employee Confidence
Regardless of potential financial scares, associates can take charge of their own professional lives and co-create the workplace realities they desire alongside their supervisors. Employees who work with career coaches can talk through skill sets they would like to develop and areas in which they would like to advance their careers, giving them faith in the decisions they’re making about their work lives. They harness the soft skills that will prepare them to come into performance management conversations with their leaders confidently, becoming their own biggest advocates when discussing their performance, struggles, and aspirations with their managers.
Competencies such as transparency, individualized employee development, introspection, and analysis set teams and organizations up for success and support the long-term performance management of leaders, even during times of economic downturn. With the help of holistic coaching – offered by companies such as Activate 180 – employees and their organizations can transform.
Rod McDermott is the CEO + Co-Founder of Activate 180, which helps companies elevate employee performance, productivity, and happiness through affordable coaching for all; the CEO + Co-Founder of McDermott + Bull, one of the fastest-growing executive search firms in North America with offices domestically and internationally; the President + CEO of M+B Interim Leaders, which he founded along with Angela Anderson in 2011 to address an increased client need for time-sensitive solutions to important leadership challenges; and the Founder of the M+B Executive Network, a community of in-transition senior-level executives seeking guidance to land their next role, serving over 10,000 members since inception.
Rod has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years, growing companies from the ground up and challenging industry norms. His ultimate goal is to meaningfully contribute to the greater good, which is showcased through his passion for hard work, fostering relationships, and conceptualizing solutions for professional development.