Why behavioural coaching is the missing piece in your employee engagement strategy

CoachingCompany Culture
Daniel Tay
May 17, 2022

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Daniel Tay
Head of content marketing & SEO at Intellect. Prior to this, I co-founded a 7-figure content marketing agency called With Content, and led teams at Tech in Asia, Piktochart, and 100offer. In my spare time, I enjoy a good book, tennis rallies, and piping hot lattes.

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Employee engagement has always been an issue for companies. Prior to the pandemic, disengaged employees were already costing companies up to $550 billion a year

Because disengaged employees are less committed to their work and the company’s success, they tend to have higher absenteeism and make more mistakes. Compared to engaged employees, they are 3.3 times more likely to leave companies within 90 days, which can be extremely costly for organizations. However, a study by Mercer in 2020 showed that only 11% of HR teams in Singapore delivered an extremely good employee experience.

In light of the Great Resignation, companies are now realizing that employee engagement must become a priority to help them stay ahead. Behavioural coaching may be an avenue to do just that. Here’s why. 

The problem with employee engagement

behavioural coaching

Deloitte defines employee engagement as “the emotional commitment an employee has to their organization and its employees, vision and goals.”

One of the biggest pitfalls in companies’ approaches to employee engagement is making it a human resources (HR) problem. While HR can deploy sentiment surveys and implement benefits packages, the onus of employee engagement lies with the management team—how they lead and the culture they create. 

According to Gallup, an effective way for leaders to do this is to become coaches instead of bosses. 

For leaders, behavioural coaching focuses on individual and team engagement. Instead of simply telling employees what to do, a coach can leverage each employee’s unique talents and strengths, guide employees in the desired direction, and achieve better outcomes while making employees feel important and valued. 

The problem? Barking orders is easier to do than all of the above. Coaching, after all, is a skill and may not come naturally to all leaders. This is where a professional, such as a behavioural coach, can step in. 

What is behavioural coaching? 

According to Behavioral Coaching Institute, it is the science and art of not just facilitating employees’ performance but also their learning and development. This helps the organization grow and individuals become more effective and happy at work, study, and/or in social settings. 

For Australia-based behavioural coach Robyn Cam, coaching can be defined by what it is not. 

“A mentor is specific to a workplace or industry; someone who has been there before and can show you the ropes. A therapist will take a client back through their life to look at what went wrong, where they’re stuck—psychological challenges. A coach will look at which way you’re going, what you’re working on, and how we can make that a reality.” 

In other words, coaches help people overcome personal hurdles and find their motivation and inspiration from the world around them. Through behavioural coaching, a person can unlock their own potential and identify opportunities for creativity, growth, or advancement. They gain clarity on their purpose or vision  within a safe, confidential, and unbiased environment. When leaders and employees have a coaching culture, they can work towards creating a powerful and collaborative work environment. 

remote behavioral coaching

This is helpful because our professional and personal lives are more intertwined than is admitted. Everyone struggles with both personal and work-related stressors, which impact mental well-being and performance, but we may not have the time and space to take care of ourselves and solve these problems or the skills to communicate them to teammates.

“Adding a coach to the manager-employee relationship can reassure the manager that the employee is getting support for sensitive issues and that the manager-employee relationship remains professional. A coach may also be a sounding board for a manager if they do need to engage or support employees in challenging circumstances,” Robyn said. 

Don’t get us wrong—behavioural coaches do not tell people what to do. Instead, they “create a platform for the client to find their own path,” Robyn said. 

How does coaching impact employee engagement? 

coaching employees

Behavioural coaching equips managers and employees with tools and strategies for when they’re feeling stuck. 

Robyn said that coaching helps link useful connections between the employee and manager, and the employee and the company. By connecting these dots, employees can find purpose, which can help them feel more confident and assured moving forward. 

Managers can also become better leaders who can successfully nurture their teams and a more engaged workforce.  

Help employees see the bigger picture

Robyn shared an example of a manager in a logistics shipping company whose employee was making data entry mistakes repeatedly but did not see it as a big issue. “He was frustrated. He had never fired anyone before and he didn’t want to do that. So we looked at alternatives to letting her go,” Robyn said. 

“He had a perspective shift. The client considered a strategy to help the employee understand the outcome of her work and how important it is.” 

The manager took the employee on a field trip to the ports and docks, and showed her how one wrong digit in her data entry could send a shipping container to India instead of Singapore. This helped her to understand the impact of her work and she remained in the company. 

“Often, people don’t realize what coaching does. It’s very outcome-oriented. We talk about your experiences in the workplace and work through that in a different way,” Robyn said. 

Balance intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

For employees, behavioural coaching helps them stay intrinsically motivated and find a sense of purpose in their work. This, according to a new study by Great Place to Work, is a key challenge that holds companies back from creating a happy and engaged workforce. A large percentage of respondents said their work lacked meaning or failed to make a difference.

“It will be HR that will provide the rewards and incentives—extrinsic—we help to align the company values, the company ethos to the employee so they feel more motivated, more aligned, and driven in the workplace.”

Resolve internal stumbling blocks  

Another way behavioural coaching helps employees is by allowing them to talk through personal issues.

“We help them by looking at or shifting their negative perspective. Sometimes people don’t get outside of their own heads. They think certain behaviours are against them; they think they’re being overlooked for opportunities and projects because they’re not liked by their manager. Through a coaching session, for example, they might map out that they haven’t presented their skills clearly,” Robyn said. 

Helping employees sort out their internal problems, insecurities, or judgements can improve the employee’s mental health stability and resilience and overall improve the working environment and relationships.

Behavioural coaching could be the missing key

Companies can’t expect managers to be good coaches by default, or employees to find that sense of alignment on their own. More often than not, people need guidance but are uncertain if they should look for it in a manager, career counselor, or therapist. Integrating behavioural coaching in your employee engagement strategy is a way of being strategic. 

Not sure how to get started? Find out how Intellect can benefit your organization here

About Author

Daniel Tay
Head of content marketing & SEO at Intellect. Prior to this, I co-founded a 7-figure content marketing agency called With Content, and led teams at Tech in Asia, Piktochart, and 100offer. In my spare time, I enjoy a good book, tennis rallies, and piping hot lattes.

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