As companies continue to try to do more with less, the stress of doing the work of two or more people is taking a toll on employees. And that is making them less productive, less motivated and less likely to do their best work, says Ricci Victorio, CSP, managing partner at Mosaic Family Business Center.
“As companies deal with lower budgets and tighten their belts, they are putting ever-greater demands on their employees,” says Victorio. “As an employer, you need to help your employees fill their cups back up, because they are being significantly drained. Whenever you have people being pushed at absolute top levels performing on all 100 cylinders all of the time, they run out of gas. And when they run out of emotional gas, negative behaviors start springing up.”
Smart Business spoke with Victorio about how one-on-one coaching with employees can improve morale and help them work better together as a team.
What is the value of executive coaching?
It can improve morale and provide an internal vision for employees as they ask: What is my value? Why am I here? What am I doing? How can I do it better?
Improved morale increases productivity and, in some cases, employers see a change in the first week, with people taking responsibility for their communication with one another, approaching their differences of opinion with less of an edge, having conversations happening in a different way and struggling less.
Why should employers be concerned about stressed, overworked employees?
It can impact their performance and, as a result, the performance of the company. Like a rubber band, we all can handle stress. We get a shot of adrenaline, we go into performance mode, we adapt and we circumvent our fears to handle the bigger cause. But also like a rubber band, if you don’t relieve that stress and the tension continues to build, people will snap. And when they snap, you see increased anxiety.
Stress robs individuals of mental energy, their problem-solving capabilities are reduced, their fuses become shorter and they snap at trivial things. They lose sight of the big picture and feel like they’re drowning, to the point that they can’t even see the path that they’re on. They’re so busy removing stones from their path that they don’t feel like they’re moving forward. They lose sight of the vision and goals that were so painstakingly created by leadership.
When the stress gets too great, people are going to do something to reduce it, whether that is quitting, blowing up, firing someone, getting sick with a stress-related illness or taking it out on their families. And all of those results are damaging to the company.
At too many businesses, what used to be a happy group is now a group of people who are frustrated, bickering and not cooperating with one another. Employers need to look at whether they are treating their employees as if they were paper cups — just using them up, throwing them away and getting a new batch.
How can employers help their employees?
In the past, employers might have hired a coach for their executives, but companies are now moving toward coaching for their managers and employees. It can be beneficial to begin work with individuals for one-on-one coaching before expanding to team training. Coaching helps each individual get a hold of what they can be responsible for in their own experience and helps them gain another perspective and a better understanding of other people’s communication styles. If you can understand why someone is communicating in a certain way, you can start to react differently. Or if people aren’t responding to you, you can look inward to identify a better way to communicate.
If you can become aware of your natural tendencies and learn to govern them better, you can expect a different outcome. And that self-awareness and the awareness of the team around you can be a significant investment in team morale.
I believe that people are naturally resourceful and creative and whole, and they don’t need to be fixed. But a coach can help them look inward to find the magnificence of who they are and the mission of what they’re doing, to gain a sense that, ‘Yes, I’m engaged in a project with my team that I really believe in,’ and forgive a lot of the trivial things that have been weighing that person down.
It helps them to get a better sense of perspective, giving them strategies for how to navigate tricky personalities and a better understanding of who they are so they are more self aware in their interaction with others.
How can that benefit a company?
It’s amazing what people can do when they feel acknowledged, excited, motivated and energized about the mission and about what their role is in it. A coach can help give people a clearer perspective on what they can control and magnify who they are and the contribution they are making, leading to a renewed sense of vision and appreciation for those they work with.
When people really get permission to be who they are and express their truth in a non-confrontational way, they can really do amazing things. You and your employees already have the answers inside of you. A coach is just a way to access those answers that you may not know how to get to on your own.
Ricci M. Victorio, CSP, is managing partner at Mosaic Family Business Center. Reach her at (415) 788- 1952.