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Frequent Performance Coaching Sessions Increase Employee Engagement


Welcome to “Summertime…and Improving Productivity Is Easy: Eight Ways to Increase Employee Engagement,” a ScottMadden eight-part series. Based on a recent Gallup study,[1] we know that approximately 70% of employees are not engaged at work, resulting in lower job performance and loss of time and money for the organization. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll provide insights on how employee engagement impacts your business outcomes, as well as tangible examples of how you can increase engagement among your employees. Click here to see the complete series.

In the fifth installment of the series, we tap into how strong relationships with an employee’s direct manager can increase engagement.

The Importance of Direct Report Relationships

Eighty-three percent of HR managers feel their performance review process needs to be improved. The annual review process, as commonly practiced, often hinders both employee-manager relationships and employee engagement. This is primarily because managers do not obtain performance data frequently enough to drive meaningful discussions with employees. Employees, in turn, cannot be held accountable for current work and cannot benefit from contemporaneous performance feedback data to make real-time changes in their work behavior. Early adopting firms have replaced annual performance reviews with more frequent performance touchpoints. Frequent and simple performance feedback and coaching sessions can align and guide manager-employee discussions, while simultaneously increasing engagement. These coaching sessions typically contain 5 to 15 close-ended items that remain fixed objectives or goals for extended periods of time. This allows firms to track employee performance data. A simple survey can be used to carry out this process.

Coaching Approach

One specific approach is having managers, on a weekly basis, dedicate approximately 30 minutes to check-in with each employee. If a manager oversees six to eight employees, this is a three- to four-hour weekly time commitment. While this may seem frequent and time consuming, this equates to only 10% of a manager’s time, which is time well spent that truly affects employee performance (i.e., the essence of managing). Numerous studies have demonstrated the importance of manager involvement in reviewing current projects, assisting in goal setting, and assessing accountability:

  • Employees are seven times more likely to engage when they feel their direct manager is acutely aware of their current task or project
  • Employees are 17 times more likely to engage when their managers assist with goal setting
  • Sixty-nine percent of employees are likely to disengage when managers do not hold them accountable

Opportunities Exist to Improve Listening and Communication

Eliminating the once-per-year annual performance review and moving toward structured, recurring performance feedback coaching sessions, including appropriate manager follow-up to ensure accountability, inexpensively improves the review process and directly increases employee engagement. In turn, increased employee engagement has been shown to yield positive, firm performance. Productivity increases by 21%, while profitability increases by 22%, when employees are engaged. With only 13% of employees engaged worldwide[2], a huge opportunity exists for employers of all types and companies of all sizes to improve engagement and productivity with minimal investment.

Additional Resources

[1] Gallup, “The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis,” 2016

[2] Gallup, “Should Managers Focus on Performance or Engagement,” 2014

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