As a leadership strategist I’ve listened to countless small business owners share their highs and lows. Whether we’re talking about profit margins or market trends, the punch-line always lands on employees.
A client shared this insight about being an owner and effective leader at the same time.
“My ability to influence people is a key skill in my business and personal life. I’m the same person as an owner and have the same attributes, but I don’t know how to use them as a leader. I don’t even know if I do lead.
I go to work because it’s my company and I participate in selling and working like a higher level employee. I take on all the tasks of the creativity and out of the box thinking that other employees don’t do.
Employees are free to implement their own ideas, but when it boils down to day to day operations and the face of my company, I get more involved than a regular employee. No one is going to sell the company like I am.
I don’t understand why employees can’t see what I am doing and do it themselves. It frustrates me that people don’t think the way I think.”
Strike a chord for you? Why can’t employees see what you do you and do it themselves?
Without coaching they can’t. Humans are wired for connection. To create we must first connect, have a model to follow, and produce for a purpose to have permanent change.
Why do you care about that as a small business owner? If you’re spending time and money you don’t have on constantly hiring new people, you need to. Lead your people so they will up-level their responsibility and declare their loyalty for the longevity of your business.
A healthy owner/employee relationship is built on a strong foundation. Effective coaching of your employees is a natural by-product of that relationship.
Here’s some help to get you started.
- Have Boundaries:
I believe the best leaders have clear boundaries.
- Boundaries show employees you value being your best professional and personal self.
- They create a healthy culture during the good times and set the stage for constructive feedback in the bad.
- Your team appreciates knowing what to expect at work and how you behave as a business owner is no different.
- Model Your Expectations:
One of the biggest obstacles in coaching employees is often your own habits. Picture this, disorganization in the main office space is bugging you. You walk past it every day waiting for somebody else to take care of it. Meanwhile your own work space is a cluttered mess. You’re frustrated about something you don’t even do yourself.
- To be an impactful coach focus on yourself first. You can’t expect others to do things you aren’t willing to do.
- Demonstrate subtly taking care of your own space and take responsibility so that you have merit when expecting the same of your employees.
- Be Interested:
Being a coachable employee takes courage and willingness to learn. A safe environment to take risks and do new things is key. My experience has proven that validation allows a person to feel safe.
- Get to know your people. When employees feel seen for who they are they begin to trust.
- Take notice of their personal growth and changes, their new marriages, families and babies, homes, personalities, and skill growth.
- These are not people who check the boxes at work for you. You want people who will buy into your purpose because they know they matter.
- Find Their Gift:
This may be hard to hear, but you’re not the expert on all things. If you choose to run your business that way, chances are you’ve hit a few roadblocks.
- A favorite piece of advice I live by is “Know what you don’t know.” Being an impactful leader means understanding what you are good at and what you are not.
- Here’s the good news, you have employees that may be great at what you are not. And when you figure that out, a whole new world opens.
- Finding someone’s gift does take time, but here’s a hint; focus on character, not skills.
- Skills are trainable, character is what they have that you can’t teach them. When you find it, you’ll have a better idea how to coach them.
- Follow Through:
Coaching for lasting change is about follow through. To gain credibility with your staff, be sure you don’t leave them hanging on their development.
- If you coach them on something be there to shower praise when they level-up.
- Learning is a very personal thing, but it becomes permanent when it’s purposeful and praised. Simple as that.
- If you can’t follow through when promised, always acknowledge. Let your employees know you haven’t moved on or forgotten.
- State your delay and reschedule a chance to follow through with them in person.
Your “Do It Today” Take Away:
Remember coaching employees is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a co-creative experience. You’re a model for guidance but also encouraging your employees to use their own gifts for empowerment. Built on a strong foundation the leader/ employee coaching journey is a powerful ongoing working relationship. The innovative possibilities are endless. Empower On!