“I just can’t seem to get through to her. She used to love her job, now she seems so unhappy. Even worse, I know she’s totally disengaged and it’s showing in her work. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried everything. I think I will have to fire her.” It was a familiar conversation I’ve had with managers, an employee, once motivated and engaged, starts to fall short. Unfortunately, these situations don’t usually end well. After multiple attempts to reform the employee, which often include performance improvement plans and conversations with human resources, the employee is ultimately let go.
To compound the issue, many managers feel ill-equipped to handle these conversations. It can seem like the tools used to motive and change performance do the opposite. Even if short term results are achieved, poor behavior often resurfaces and, in many cases, worsens.
Time for a Different Approach
Although it may seem counterintuitive, setting aside your authority as a “manager” and stepping into the role of a coach can be the key to lasting employee engagement and motivation. In fact, it’s not just a tool to be used when employee performance is waning, developing a coach approach to leadership can head off employee issues before they start. Here’s how:
While taking the coach approach to employee performance is certainly more time consuming, it is fundamental in building and maintaining a self-motivated and engaged staff. Employees who respond well to this approach and improve their performance often become valued contributors. Furthermore, integrating a coach approach into your overall leadership style, not just as a tool for performance issues, will no doubt prevent problems from surfacing in the first place.