What It Means To Coach The Hybrid Workforce
Coaching Fills in the Gaps
The tides of the employee experience are turning in
favor of greater individualized support. Employees
expect a more customized experience and access
to the tools they need to do their best work, and
companies can either meet those expectations or
lose their best talent.
Organizations can — and will — try to set all the
“right” policies and processes to help their hybrid
workforces succeed. That’s important work, but there
are no one-size-fits-all solutions, and people will still
experience their own stress and anxiety.
Coaching allows managers to meet the needs that
blanket policies don’t. By creating space, listening,
and asking strategic questions, manager-coaches
guide their employees to solutions they can take
ownership of and commit to. “Let’s try this solution.
/ What about that solution?” turns into, “What’s
one small step you can try this week to make life at
work a little better?” With coaching, employees feel
heard, create clarity, form an action plan, and take
ownership of that plan.
Let’s Face It; It’s Harder Than It Sounds
I won’t pretend that coaching can be mastered
overnight or that it’s a magic bullet. Like any other
skill, it’s a muscle that needs to be trained, and the
only way to do that is to put it to use. Leaders can
practice with a friend, a peer, or their own coach.
Instead of looking for a sounding board with a peer,
challenge yourself to have them coach you: “I have an
issue I’d like to bounce around with you. Can you coach
me on it? I need to nail down my next steps.”
The hybrid workforce also presents its own set of
challenges to coaching. There’s a sense of inequity
that arises when some people are in the office and
others are remote. For an employee trying to make
their work visible to a manager, a scheduled video
call just can’t compete with an impromptu coffee
break. Managers may have to consciously take a
“remote-first” approach to leading and collaborating.
Besides that, coaching often means moving more
slowly than you might when simply delegating. The
rewards are great, though: when someone “owns” a
game plan, they’re more likely to follow through, be
engaged, and succeed than when they’re told what
There’s an element in trial-and-error in all of this, and
managers can save time by “reality-checking” their
employees’ will and commitment: “That sounds like a
great plan. How do you feel about making it happen?
What excites you about it? What worries do you
Finally, a foundation of trust is essential for
a manager to coach effectively. By modeling
vulnerability, acknowledging effort, and rewarding
their people for being forthcoming with feedback,
managers can create an environment in which
employees feel they can share safely and have
Coaching takes time, but you can think of it as
moving slowly to move quickly. The time managers
spend listening, providing structure for problem-solving,
and encouraging a solutions-oriented approach
Maureen Kennedy brings more
than two decades of diverse
experience to her coaching practice.
A former founder, she ran her own
entrepreneurial consulting practice
before joining the Karen Harvey
Consulting Group in New York City.
There, she served as managing
director for close to a decade, leading
operations, finance, and human
resources. As Bravely’s Head Pro, she
manages the company’s fast-growing
network of coaching professionals,
leading recruiting, onboarding, training,
and ongoing development. She loves
coaching and counseling employees at
every stage of their career, from entry
level to the C-suite.
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