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Coaching Internal Clients

January 8th, 2015

Every year, employee retention is on the list of key Human Resource issues.

The research has been consistent for 30 years: motivating and developing employees continues to be a global development need for managers.

In their 2014 research, Korn Ferry analyzed the ratings of over 67,800 global learners participating in their Voices™ 360 Multi-Rater Assessment across six hierarchical levels.

While Customer Focus, Action Oriented, Drives Results, Instills Trust and Nimble Learning remained in the top third of strengths for all levels, Drives Engagement, Manages Conflict, Develops Talent, Drives Vision and Purpose and Situational Adaptability are in the bottom third. Persuades Others has improved but only high performing managers are talented in this critical competency.

This suggests that managers continue to invest time in driving results and building customer relationships but not much time motivating and developing their direct reports.

Further, even though developing the talent bench is viewed as an integral part of an organization’s strategy, most continue to reward based on tangible results.

Human Resources professionals are charged with coaching their internal clients on developing their teams. Here are five actionable tips:

1. Conduct regular one-on-one coaching meetings with your direct reports. I have asked hundreds of managers how often they conduct one-on-one meetings and what is discussed during these meetings. The answer is almost always “monthly” or “when we can fit it in” and the meetings focus on performance.

Monthly isn’t often enough and focusing on performance is limiting.  Every other week, or better, weekly 15 minute meetings help ensure that timely feedback is given.  In addition, managers must balance these meetings by giving feedback on “how” their direct reports accomplish tasks, projects or goals.   For example, “Ben, in your executive review, you were well prepared and answered people’s questions with facts and data.” Or conversely, “Ben, you were not able to answer questions in the executive review. As a result we couldn’t make recommendations for next steps. In the future please anticipate questions and back up your answers with data.”

2. Learn what motivates your direct reports. Studies show that for many people money is important but isn’t a key motivator. Employees are motivated by challenging work that stretches their capabilities. How does one determine what motivates their employees?   In your next one-on-one meeting, ask! “Erika, what do you enjoy most in your role? What do you least enjoy? What do you hope to be doing in five years?”   Motivating direct reports involves recognizing what employees like to spend their time doing and engaging them in ways to do it.

3. Match what motivates a direct report with a task or project. Bridget learned that Nate was motivated by being the expert and preferred “going deep”.  She assigned him to lead the implementation of a new process where he was responsible for training a cross-functional team in its use. Bridget knew it was a stretch for him and explained the steps and desired outcomes and gave him regular feedback. Nate’s implementation was successful and Bridget was able to delegate similar projects that in turn left her time to focus on strategic planning.

4. Understand that developing your direct reports benefits everyone. We know that having an opportunity to develop new capabilities is a motivator.   Engaged people aren’t typically floating their resumes on job boards. They do their jobs well and they tend to be more collaborative and contribute to the success of the team or work group.

5. Accept that not everyone aspires to higher-level opportunities. Many people love what they do, do it well and see themselves in their current role indefinitely. They also need to stay motivated and engaged. Development for them may be enhancing their skill sets to be more effective in their current role, or a temporary assignment teaching other teams what they do.

Motivating and developing people isn’t costly, time-consuming or difficult. It requires inquiry, understanding of an employee’s motives and capabilities, and a willingness to engage in honest, candid dialogue.   Most managers are hungry to know how to approach this subject and what to say. These five tips will help your managers improve their own skills while developing others.

*Competencies from the new Korn Ferry Leadership Architect™ Competency Framework.

 For a complimentary questionnaire on how to determine what motivates your employees, please email Lisa Harper, or call 414-305-6899.


Lisa Harper

Vice President

TalentGenesis, Inc.


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