Regardless of the organization for which you work, I am sure you must have come across one or several instances where your mentor used the phrase, “I understand.” The question is, do they really “understand”? Coaching or mentoring is an essential part of successful management, and thereby, the interactions carried out between the advisor and employees are immensely personal.
Several surveys and interviews have revealed a lack of consistency in the ways the managers try to put themselves across in one-on-one coaching interactions. Far from exhibiting signs of active awareness in these singular conversations, the mentors hardly attempt to make others feel more included at a team or organizational level. The standard response from leaders asked about their coaching methods, was vague, such as “I don’t like making assumptions,” “I try to be aware of my weaknesses,” “I try my best not to force my value on others,” and the like.
From what I have understood, the leaders could defer because they do not want to invest too much time in dissecting their employees’ troubles or worry about the set of consequences that might follow if they utter something unviable.
Nonetheless, to curate an inclusive and encouraging work environment, managers must know how to mold singular conversations so that it goes beyond merely identifying the blind spots and prompts the workers to be more productive and creative. Thus, to genuinely connect with the members of a team’s ordeals and suggest them helpful ways to make their way out of it, managers must resort to better and, most importantly, effective strategies. Although we still need a lot of research, here are a few best practices which I think can bring about a difference.
- Managers shouldn’t over-relate
If mentors sincerely want to help their employees evade the crisis they are facing, they shouldn’t be too quick to voice their assumptions. Statements like, “I understand what you are going through” doesn’t only sound hollow but, can also offend the other person. The better solution is to focus on absorbing the meaning of the conversation and reflect on their thoughts. It is not always that the employee who is confiding in you is looking for a strongly affirmed solution. Therefore, you can ask questions like, “what can I do on my part to support you” or assure them that whatever has happened was unfortunate, and you didn’t like the outcome either.
- Treat employees with respect and their problems with compassion.
As a global investment strategist, I have realized that things work out the best when both the parties involved treat each other with equal respect and compassion. Before dropping your perspective, listen carefully and ask open-minded questions so that you become credible enough to delineate solutions in the first place. If you feel you are not in a place where you can lend out a formidable hand of support, be curious, and show that you care because that is all that matters.
- Focus on the facts
After you sense that you have fully comprehended and are familiar with all the matter’s intricacies, that’s when you should respond. If you give performance feedback, rely on the facts and specific behaviors, and thoroughly explain them rather than propose blurry suppositions. Likewise, when you educate someone, do it while they are performing the job in real-time. Lastly, if someone approaches you with any issue related to your organization, show and offer support instead of solving it straightaway.