Slam Dunk! How Great Coaching Improves Employee Engagement

ITA Group
ITA Group

Person making a slam dunk in a basketball hoop

It’s that time of the year again when basketball is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. While filling a bracket, here are some suggestions for leaders and coaches to bring the magic (and madness) of tournament time into your year-round employee experience.

Turn the Tournament into a Team Building Activity

A study by Randstad US found 76% of employees checked college basketball scores during work hours and 53% watched or followed sporting events on their computers while at work. But during those distractions, employees are coming together over the shared interest and excitement. The findings also showed nearly 9 in 10 workers (89%) agree that office pools help build better team camaraderie and 58% completely or strongly agree.

While tournament time might be viewed as a period of decreased productivity, research indicates that the short-term distraction is outweighed by the boost to employee morale (73%), engagement (79%) and satisfaction (84%) in the long-term.

Put simply: Companies should trust employees to manage their time. Good workers still get their projects done, even if they take occasional breaks.

Workday disruptions happen—whether during the madness of March or any other time throughout the year—but those that bring team members together and make for a better workplace are definitely worth it.

Foster Coaching Conversations

Coaching is just as essential in the workplace as it is on the court. Employee potential is maximized when managers put their teams in a position to succeed, surround them with talented team players and help them develop new skills.

No matter what type of employees you’re working with, the goal is to help, guide and engage them to achieve their full potential. It’s not about making an employee feel bad—it’s about helping them improve. Establish positive energy right off the bench and highlight the contributions your employee is bringing to your team and the organization.

In addition to positivity, good coaches ask the right questions and stay engaged all the time to understand the needs of the team.

Making sure that the coach is asking the kinds of questions that lead to results—accountable questions, specifically. For example, what can the coach do better to support the team? What do you want me to know as the leader that I am missing? What opportunities do you see as we approach this client, team or stakeholder to win the game? Knowing and using what you have to be great is critical for leaders—and coaches’ use what they know to support decisions and plays in the business.

Organizations in which managers and coaches foster ongoing performance-related discussions that include regular positive reinforcement produce higher employee morale, satisfaction and productivity—which leads to better business results. Managers who have regular coaching sessions with their team members and are consistently asking good questions will gain a greater understanding and build greater trust with their employees.

These coaching conversations help drive several important outcomes.

  • Coaching to Strengthen Employee Engagement
    Your employees want to be engaged with their work and committed to the company, and coaching can to help them to get there. Plus, you can start to understand and remove the barriers to good employee engagement. Your players look to you to keep an eye on them. If their commitment to the team begins to dip, they look to their coach to help address any mistakes or bad habits that might creep into their play. As John Wooden, one of the most celebrated coaches of college basketball, famously said, “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” Teams want coaches that are intuitive, realistic and can make the needed adjustments without the player having to say it. Beyond keeping a pulse on your team’s engagement and helping employees learn new skills, coaching helps improve self-confidence and morale; 80% of professionals who received coaching reported an improvement in their self-esteem, and 63% saw a positive change in their overall wellness. When people have the tools to do their job better, they’ll be happier, engaged and more confident at work.
  • Coaching to Improve Retention
    It’s important for companies to give feedback and coaching to employees so that their efforts stay aligned with the goals of the company and meet expectations. Coaching helps inspire and motivate employees to improve knowledge, increase skills and change behaviors to drive greater performance in the workplace. Managers who coach employees with their individual potential and future success in mind will do a more effective job building their team. And as employees understand and appreciate the true value of an ongoing opportunity to learn and grow, they’ll think less about leaving and more about how they can become even better at their job.
  • Coaching to Develop Leaders
    Leadership is a skill that can be learned despite many believing that we are born with leadership abilities or not. And coaching plays a vital role in growing employees into leaders. Through coaching, leaders learn how to improve the contributions of their team members and the organization, as well as their own job satisfaction, engagement and working relationships. It's not necessarily about overhauling your leadership style and way of managing—it's about leadership development and learning effective strategies for bettering your company and yourself. Executive coaching for leaders is undeniably a worthy development strategy that enables organizations not just to manage change but to embrace and thrive in it.

Throw Your Team an Alley-Oop

Coaches are responsible for managing the talent on their teams to drive results. They also regularly evaluate and change positions of their employee-players to maximize team members’ strengths. Coaches engage with inspiration to keep the team playing at a high level. They manage the talent while maintaining focus on the experience for the audience they play to (client, customer or stakeholder), and they support navigation of the larger goal with strategy and intent. From an employee's first day on the job to quick check-ins on the stride and formal performance reviews, great workplace coaches aren't waiting for the yearly check-in to discuss employee needs, successes or opportunities. They are actively involved in the process—day in and day out.

Want more advice on the best ways to coach your team? Check out our post for different ways you can empower your people to make the sale.