Be an Employee Partnership Coach

Successful kitchen and bath dealers of the future will need to think more in terms of employees as partners in managing their businesses. The term "partner" creates an image of an equal, valuable contributor to the organization. Although each employee won't have legal status as a partner, a successful business will consider each employee a "shareholder."

Understand that if you call employees "shareholders" but never give them the opportunity to share their claim in the operation of the business, then you will have created a negative situation. Employees will see the term as a farce, and they will be reluctant to participate in the process.

However, if you actively involve employees in the decision-making process, and you actively solicit input from them, you'll start to see employees behaving as true shareholders who are concerned about the future of your company.

Your employees truly have the potential to be the very best partners you could imagine. They should already be emotionally vested in the company. With a consistent level of coaching from you and your management team, you can create the potential for great progress. The manner in which you coach will have a direct result on how well your employees buy into the shareholder concept.

Coaching the team
The process of managing people entails following some basic, common sense guidelines. Whenever you plan to work with employees to help them reach higher levels of performance through coaching, you will need to display the following basic characteristics:

1. You must be consistent in everything you do. Your employees must be able to rely on you to behave in similar ways when similar situations occur.

2. You must be totally honest. Don't attempt to be an employee coach because you believe it's the trendy thing to do. You must sincerely believe that this is the best way to help your employees.

3. Demonstrate your passion for your company, your products and your services. You must be totally committed to helping your com-pany, and your employees, become the very best they can be. Your passion and commitment will shine through and have a positive impact on your employees.

4. Develop and support a great training program. You must invest both time and money to train your employees. The employees want to follow up with information, support and clarification that will strengthen the required skills that you have identified through your coaching. Give your employees lots of opportunities to practice the skills, techniques and behaviors you're coaching them to develop.

5. Be flexible, and able to make adjustments as necessary. Recognize that your strategies may need to be modified at a moment's notice due to a client or vendor's request. Don't be too rigid in the way you deliver your coaching or training.
Allowing employees to grow will allow you, the boss, to step back and enjoy a better quality of life. To be a successful manager/coach, you must:

  • Be well regarded and respected for what you've accomplished.
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  • Work closely with employees.
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  • Have skills and abilities desired by others.
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  • Understand and articulate the culture, mission and values of the company.
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  • Be sincere in relationships with employees.
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  • Be trusting and respecting.
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  • Empathize with employees.
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  • Offer professional and personal support and guidance.
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  • Serve as a role model.
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  • Allow for individual agendas and respect individual needs.
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  • Talk with, not to or at, your employees.
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  • Identify and communicate the objectives and goals to be reached and how the efforts will be measured and rewarded.
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  • Allow others to grow and develop without fear or concern about their own status.
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  • Make available both formal and informal feedback on employee progress.
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  • Constantly identify opportunities to improve, and continually plan ways to achieve improvement.

Future development
The future leaders of your com-pany may already be working for you. As Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson stated in The One Minute Manager, "The key to developing good people is to catch them doing something right, and then to reinforce that action."

Therefore, the first step in this process of developing good employees is to determine what you and your company consider right or expected. Once you've identified these key practices, behaviors and skills, you and your managers must then catch people doing these things "right," and reinforce these desired activities through positive feedback, i.e. rewards and recognition.

Some of these behaviors will be directly linked to skills and abilities necessary in your future managers. Identify who these future managers are and work at coaching them on a daily basis.

Look for employees who display some of the following characteristics:

  • They conceive and select innovative ideas and keep these ideas in balance and reality.
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  • They are able to connect processes, events and systems within the big picture.
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  • They evoke trust from others and place trust in others to enable them to succeed.
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  • They focus on a goal and direct their energy to meet that goal.
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  • They understand and master their emotions in a way that instills confidence, motivates, inspires and enhances group effectiveness.
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  • They know how to coordinate the efforts of various sections of the company.
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  • They know how to manage and use capital, both internally and externally.
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  • They know how to employ, deploy and shape the talents of fellow employees.
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  • They know how to set both long-term and short-term objectives for themselves and others.

You might use this checklist of leadership traits to help identify the potential leaders within your company. Then you will have to determine what you must do as a coach and as a leader to develop these people to their maximum potential.

People are your most valuable asset. By hiring the best, training the best, motivating the best, communicating the best and compensating the best you will be the best!

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