As a business owner, you are in the business of coaching and counseling employees. There’s a lot to say on this subject that we can’t address here, but the most important considerations are these four:
1. Defining the real problems and not the symptoms.
2. Asking the right questions to develop further information.
3. Using responses that encourage further discussion in a manner that the employee understands.
4. Being sensitive to their clues.
One of the most difficult things for you, to be sure, is preparing to wait out any silences while being equally prepared to summarize. Think of it as a two person interview. Start with a non-threatening topic first, then progress to the real problem, hopefully at their suggestion. They need to organize their thoughts and prioritize their problems so you understand them. If you do counseling well, they will gain insight and have tensions reduced by dealing openly with you.
Part of this is the better flow of information, improved understanding, more time and enthusiasm in the workplace, prevention of further conflict, and the ridding of any hidden agendas. Sometimes the problem that led to this is knowledge based so you need to know how that person learns. Since we know the average person needs to hear or see the same thing six times before it is learned, we need to be patient.
In addition, learning depends on timing. If you tell them when there is no time to practice, they will not remember to do it that way. It must be reinforced with activity over and over again. That’s why it’s so important to have the right kind of people who are going to be leaders, who take initiative and are ready when you vary the work you give them. The people who do the analytical, rote jobs had better be the detail type of people.
People also learn by association. If they know what they are doing has a relative benefit to an end result, they associate it with a whole, entire process ad it makes more sense to them. Part of that is the reinforcement we spoke about. If they know it is evident their job has to happen or the whole process won’t work, it can make a big difference.