The turnaround industry is being hit hard by the baby boomer retirement tidal wave. Every day sees another 10,000 skilled workers evaporate from our national talent pool, leaving behind two classes of people: those who are fully qualified to carry on and those who are not. This quickly sets in motion a two-pronged cycle downward: First, the remaining skilled workers are stuck carrying the bulk of the load, becoming burned out and resentful of less skilled employees who are not carrying their fair share. These skilled employees are likely to seek escape from the relentless pressure by pursuing employment elsewhere. Secondly, the less skilled employees may perceive they are in a “do or die” situation and naturally feel pressure to leave before they are asked to leave. If a site is not prepared and proactive, this could be disastrous.
For decades, one of the most important predictors of job satisfaction and employee retention has been the availability and quality of employee training. Perhaps surprising to some, most of the hype has not been surrounding educational benefits for higher learning, but rather job-specific training that strengthens individuals in their current roles. Training will forever be a staple necessity, but training alone will never achieve the quintessential outcome for team performance. As the turnaround industry continues to evolve, more progressive sites are turning to coaching to nudge their teams to the next level of performance.
Some managers are greatly concerned about employees receiving training and coaching and then being hired away, thus voiding their investment. In the grand scheme of things, worse than having a few trained people leave is having a team of low performers stay. Maintaining a team of low performers is a really poor retention plan. If no other company wants your employees, why should you? The average employee who is well treated is growing in loyalty and is not anxious to risk the possibility that their next job may not be as satisfying. Consistently, training has proved to be a rewarding investment.
The training is done; the class was successful. What now? How will employees retain the bulk of what has been learned? How will employees take classroom concepts and apply them in real-role situations? What assurance is there that the team will now successfully advance to the next level, making the training investment profitable? When employees know strategic team training will be followed by structured role coaching where they will be mentored, have opportunity to demonstrate their skills and be evaluated, training takes on a higher level of intensity and effectiveness.
The turnaround industry is home to some of the brightest and most talented people in the world, but unfortunately, many turnaround teams have not crested in terms of their obvious potential. They are like hot water, sitting at 211 degrees, wondering how to gain that last elusive degree that will generate the steam that pushes locomotives up mountains. Small advances can make huge differences! The average turnaround team can go from average to awesome with less effort than suspected .
Coaching is as straightforward as A-B-C:
• Assess the need. What are the strengths to reinforce and the deficiencies to overcome?
• Build a mentoring relationship based on trust, positive reinforcement and employee confidence. The best gift we can give to someone is not endowing them with our abilities but helping them discover their own.
• Connect strategic behaviors to desired outcomes. Benjamin Franklin verbalized it many years ago: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Good coaching improves employee proficiency, which improves employee satisfaction and retention, which improves employee performance, which improves turnaround predictability, which improves site profitability. Coaching helps transition good employees to great and mediocre employees to good, creating a win for each employee type and the company.
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