On the surface it may appear to be a straight forward issue to gain employee input, but it is easy to give advice rather than actively seek employee’s involvement and it can be easy to allow one’s own biases to guide the discussion.
1. Explain to the employee why you need his ideas
- May otherwise initially seem threatening!
- Need to find out the reason for his behaviour
- You value his ideas
- Need to provide additional information about what helps or hinders the employee’s job performance.
2. Use questioning techniques
- Open, not closed
- Not leading or assumptive questions
3. Active listening – what do we mean by this?
- Resist interrupting
- Do not judge
4. Recognise that you’re taking a risk
- You are both in a learning situation
- You may need to reset your own ideas
- The process is likely to open up the relationship
N.B. Your primary role is to coach, not to judge!
Employees ideas are not always either partly or wholly acceptable.
1. Discard the idea! Potential consequences of this are…
- Further ideas will be discouraged
- Employee is demotivated
- Employee frustration
2. Add in the manager’s own ideas! Potential consequences of this are…
- Employee does not take ownership of solution
- …and therefore may not implement the solution
- The perception of using authority to coerce may be created
3. Use skills to help employee to ‘audit’ their own idea. This helps employees in the future to ‘think’ things through, even in the absence of the manager.
On occasions, the employee will not have the knowledge or experience to give their own ideas. In which case:
- Present options without giving a preference.
- Avoid the game of “guess what the manager really wants!”
- Avoid bias – do not give away your preferred choice
- All alternatives presented must be viable solutions
- One suggested alternative may even be built on to create a solution better than the manager’s original ideas!
To help improve team and individual performance through an effective and flexible coaching framework, Structured Training’s open programme Coaching For Success will give the manager a clear view of the responsibilities and requirements of a coaching role as well as a sound understanding of the tools and techniques they need to succeed.