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Coaching & Mentoring: Why These Soft Skills of Employees Matter

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Many employers know that soft skills like coaching, mentoring, leadership and teamwork are essential for good productivity and ultimately a successful business. When it is time to expand your workforce, current employees who are capable of mentoring new hires or staffers new to a position can help them hit the ground running under friendly supervision. Encouraging your staff to develop coaching skills will pay off in the long run with improved on-the-job professional development. Enhanced opportunities for your staff can lead to positive morale and a more committed workforce. 

Developing Coaching Skills

Experienced employees can mentor newbies by building rapport and empathizing with the individual who is new to the position. Having a coach can make a world of difference by listening to problems and concerns and partnering to set achievable goals. Coaches become the “go to” person to ask a question and request feedback for accomplished tasks. As the mentor gets to know the coachee, he or she can become practiced in using rapport and intuition to guide the learning curve with encouraging words and provide feedback when necessary.

Asking the Right Questions

A key skill for coaches and mentors is asking the right questions of the coachee. Through astute questioning, the coach can encourage the newbie to focus their attention on the task at hand, explore new ideas and foster greater commitment to the project. Open-ended questions beginning with such words as why, how and what can elicit a well-thought out response, as opposed to a closed question that simply obtains a yes or a no answer.

Setting the Right Goals

Coaches get the best results when they are able to help set goals to complete the task at hand. Ideally, the coachee will set the goals and the coach will monitor them to make sure they are attainable. In setting goals, there must be an action plan and a way to track progress by measuring advances as they occur. Meaningful goals are spelled out specifically and should resonate with the individual’s experience, interests and expertise. Goals must be completed within a definite time frame.

Providing the Right Feedback

On-the-job training involves feedback based on observations of a coachee’s behavior. Providing positive feedback is easy compared to giving negative feedback that will be taken seriously. To avoid putting the individual on the defensive, it is a good idea to provide some positive feedback first. The coach will focus on the behavior and not the individual, and ask questions aimed at finding out if there is a more effective way to handle a similar situation in the future.

Developing Rapport

The best mentors and coaches develop a strong rapport with their underlings to make them feel comfortable and more receptive to suggestions. The alternative is an adversarial situation where the coachee feels compelled to defend his or her position or behavior. By putting the subject at ease, the mentor or coach can encourage the individual to express themselves openly. This process may take some time, but the results are worth it. Falling into the same speech pattern and mirroring body language, if done skilfully, can have a great effect.

Basic Coaching Frameworks

Employers can encourage strong coaching skills by providing access to coaching frameworks for their staff. Many models define the goal or the objective and provide a “reality check” to spell out where the individual is now in relation to the goal. The next step is to identify any obstacles to achieving the goal, and then come up with different options to deal with these obstacles. The last important step is to come up with a plan of action to achieve the goal.

Other Coaching Frameworks

Some coaching frameworks cover a broader environment that addresses the task within the context of the firm. Other coaching frameworks focus more on the solution and what the individual wants to achieve short term and long term. These coaching frameworks tend to identify strategies that work, and move away from strategies that don’t. This involves having the individual reflect on personal strengths, skills, knowledge and attitudes that are contributing in a positive way toward the goal. The coach will then affirm these attributes by reflecting the comments back to the coachee.

The Importance of Coaching

Not all companies value the importance of the soft skill of coaching. Coaching is not seen as a priority in some organizations, and as a result employees lack the skill to coach properly. This attitude results from a lack of understanding of the positive contribution coaching can make for the company. In fact, coaching is a way to improve productivity and provide training within the firm.

Professional Development

The Bookboon eLibrary Solution benefits employers who want to create a stronger and more competent workforce. By tapping into soft skills topics such as coaching and mentoring at the Bookboon eLibrary, employees can strengthen their knowledge and improve their performance in the workplace.

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