Coaching Managers – Employee Expectations

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Employee Expectations

Many organizations are currently reviewing the way their people work and asking Managers to bring their teams back to the workplace after lockdown. But employee expectations have changed and their team will want to see a genuine willingness to understand and accommodate any unexpected changes happening in their lives, and this may suddenly include new caring responsibilities.

Especially when high profile announcements have already been made by some organizations to introduce new flexible benefits and a permanent change to the working from home policy.  So to support your coaching sessions with Managers, this blog explores returning to the workplace and a range of employee retention ideas if they feel members of their team could be tempted away.

Each idea has a suggested activity for your coaching session with them and helps you work through changing employee expectations on work life balance. Managers will also be keen to explore new ways of working and you can help them champion a fresh approach, so they can bring their team back to the workplace, retain their best people and fundamentally change the approach their organization takes when recruiting new people.

Base Salary and Bonus

Many people will be happy to work for the going market rate, but if the budget enables a little bit more, the Manager will have an opportunity to reward performance and experience. If their organization cannot afford permanent increases, they may want to suggest introducing a link between a bonus and personal performance goals or overall company performance. This should increase interest in the company as it grows and hopefully incentivize the team members to stay.

In addition to salaries and any bonus, many organizations will offer health insurance, pension payments, annual holiday and other perks. However, the rest of our employee retention ideas cover the total reward package and some of the things many Managers can implement themselves at no extra cost.

In your coaching sessions, look at what their organization already provides and discuss how they can champion ideas on health and wellbeing, training and employee engagement. Look at who they can talk to for support and what approach they can take to get time with key decision makers.

Reward and Recognition

If their organization is not able to pay the best wages, there are some other ways to make their team members feel rewarded, beyond the base salary and holiday allowance. Maybe they can talk to procurement or HR colleagues and ask them to negotiate group wide discounts on big-ticket purchases, like cars, mobile phones, TVs, computers and cycle to work schemes.

Managers can also look at some smaller local things that go a long way but don’t cost that much. Some ideas could be free tea and coffee, fresh fruit deliveries, discounts with local sandwich shops, hairdressers, nail bars or dry cleaning pick up and drop off. Managers can set up team building activities like volunteering for the company charity, or at a local organization, school or community garden. They can even request a small budget for celebrating Birthdays, work anniversaries or special team achievements.

All of these small perks can boost morale, but recognition in front of the team, department or organization will really contribute to a positive company culture. Everybody wants to feel appreciated for the work they do and a Manager saying thank you is a great start. However, suggest they can get into the habit of sending an email explaining why they are so pleased with the work their team or a team member is doing. Then ask them to follow it up with some formal recognition in front of the senior team.

In your coaching sessions, you can ask the Manager to identify examples of great work by their team and discuss how they could formally recognize the effort made by the team or individual.

Health and Wellbeing

It makes perfect sense to help team members stay mentally and physically fit, but some Managers are unsure exactly what they can do to help. Suggest they start by looking at the flow of work to see if anything can be spaced out to reduce spikes or pain points. These can cause stress, so removing them will give their team a chance to catch their breath. And remind them to always say thank you if anybody went over and above to help deliver to a tight deadline.

Gym membership, wellness or resilience training, stress management and team building activities are other ideas they can look at to boost the mental a physical health of the team, but these may be impacted by any local lockdowns or ongoing social distancing restrictions.

In your coaching sessions, you can discuss wellness, resilience and stress management. Explore how they manage these things and practice some exercises they can use personally or within team meetings. It will help them better understand how the team are feeling and what can be done to improve their mental and physical health. It may also be helpful for you to attend a team meeting and observe their management style.

Work Life Balance

The global pandemic forced many people to suddenly work from home and technology helped keep teams connected and enabled Managers to stay in touch. However, this was never designed to be a long term solution and Managers are now getting requests from their team to make permanent changes to working patterns or how much work can be done from home. Employee expectations have changed so this needs to be a company wide conversation. HR Colleagues should be included, because they can help explain any Health and Safety aspects or contractual obligations when somebody formally requests a change to the way they work.

A less ridged one size fits all working pattern can also unlock opportunities for people who previously left because of conflict between their personal and work obligations. Any new flexibility may enable them to return, so suggest they get in touch with ex colleagues and ask if they want to get involved in this new conversation too.

In your coaching sessions, you can explore employee expectations and help identify any unconscious bias they may have about flexible working. You can also discuss how they will get teams involved in important company wide decisions. Suggest they use developing a new approach to working from home as a way of involving teams and showing their opinion is valued.

Employee Engagement

In times of change, a Manager is a vital link between the team and any strategic decisions being made. So keeping a two way communication channel open is vital if team members are going to feel they can ask questions whenever they feel worried or concerned. Their team will not expect their Manager to know everything, so its OK for them to get help or clarify what they know before sharing it with their team. It may be a good idea to talk to other Managers, because they will be asked the same type of questions. Any approved Q&A can then be used in team meetings or catch up sessions and published on the intranet.

Managers are also in a great position to help explain how each role helps deliver against the wider strategic agenda. Get them to look at each role and the value it adds, so their team are clear how they are making a difference and contributing to the overall success of the company. It can really help refocus effort or retrain team members to upskill on emerging trends or technology.

In your coaching sessions, you can ask the Manager how they would present difficult information or host a team discussion. Then practice with them and help them prepare ahead of any major announcement or team meeting.

Training Opportunities

Team members will feel valued if they can see active investment in their personal and professional development, or have opportunities to grow and experience new things. Face to face or classroom based training may not currently be available, but virtual or self learning can be delivered via a computer, tablet or phone. So encourage the Manager to discuss learning opportunities at 121 sessions and within team meetings.

Many Managers will have a yearly training budget, but not all use it or know what options are available to them and their team. Developing a long term training and development plan will show their team they are valued and have a future with the organization.

In your coaching sessions, you can look for opportunities to provide coaching support to their team or specific individuals. You can also provide step by step coaching guides the Manager can use at team meetings or at future training sessions they would like to run themselves.

Clear Expectations

We have looked at employee expectations, but it is vital teams know what is expected of them too, so they know exactly how their success will be measured, especially if it is linked to a reward or bonus. However, the performance review should not be the first time a member of a team is hearing they are not delivering.

Clearly explaining where the company is headed and linking team targets to company values or objectives will help them understand the contribution they are making. It should also increase their interest in the company as it grows and result in better performance and collaboration.

In your coaching sessions, you can explore ways the Manager can agree, monitor and review targets or goals within their team. Establish a format for 121 sessions and team meetings and practice conflict resolution. Help them look for ways to spot and change any negative behaviors within their team.

Exit interviews

At some point a member of the team will hand in their notice and leave an organization, so having an exit interview is vital if the Manager is going to understand why they are leaving. HR will normally chair these exit interviews and the Manager will sometimes be asked to attend.

Creating a safe space where the individual can be honest is key and the Manager can use any feedback to support anything that will improve employee retention, or investigate the root cause of any negative behavior.

In your coaching sessions, you can practice asking open questions to understand why an individual wants to leave an organization. It can also be an opportunity to reflect on what they could personally do differently in the future. Identify ways they can check in with members of their team and spot subtle changes in behavior that could suggest they are not happy.


Further reading:

To support you in your coaching sessions with Managers, we have published a range of different resources that include:

Coaching Stress Management: Your step by step guide for coaching Stress Management, plus ideas on how to manage your own stress levels as a coach

Train and Lead – 7 tools for team coaching: 11 full colour worksheets and guide for running interactive coaching sessions

Virtual Game – Coaching a Manager: A creative way to coach a Manager and includes 12 illustrated professional goal cards and 40 question cards

Content is constantly being added to the site, so please check our on-line shop. Or read some of the other blog posts written by our team of international coaches.


Image: Thanks to Mimi Thian for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Please note – Our materials can only be copied and distributed, if you include a reference and link to the original source: (cc) – 2020

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