With employee turnover one of the most serious internal threats credit unions and banks face today, many forward-thinking financial institutions are taking a hard look at their organizations culture and opportunities to change. Leaders increasingly understand that company culture strongly influences employee engagement — and employee engagement levels are excellent predictors of future turnover. What’s more, engaged employees are not only more likely to stay, they’re more willing to put in the extra effort for their members and clients, their colleagues and the organization as a whole.
While focusing on culture is a step in the right direction, changing the culture isn’t as simple as putting people through a training program. Banks and credit unions that are serious about addressing engagement and turnover in a systemic way recognize that culture starts with leaders and has to be built and reinforced every day. Identifying and communicating the desired culture is only the beginning. Coaching is what makes the culture transferable and sustainable.
Let’s take a look at the scope of the issue banks and credit unions are dealing with when it comes to employee engagement, motivation and turnover and how coaching can serve as the catalyst for long-term culture change.
Are Disengaged Employees Really A Concern?
Yes. The 2022 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report highlights that employees are more disengaged than ever. Last year, 60% of employees felt detached at work, with a meager 21% who felt truly engaged. Your employees — engaged or disengaged — impact revenue, the member experience, and organizational growth. Engaging employees in a meaningful and measurable way requires uniquely coaching your diverse workforce.
Why Isn’t Training Enough To Drive Culture Change?
Training — particularly when it’s part of a systemic career development strategy — plays an important role in employee retention. Employees want to know they have a future with the organization and that they have opportunities to grow. The problem is that many organizations view the training itself as a catalyst for culture change. They put fifteen or fifty or a hundred frontline employees through training and then expect a culture shift to follow.
From a culture change perspective, it’s not just about training a particular group and then hoping that they’re going to change the rest of the organization. To get buy-in, everyone needs to be involved in creating the new culture. Not only does this give everyone the opportunity to define and own the shared values, behaviors and beliefs of the organization, it means they’ll already be aligned with them by the time they participate in training.
Of course, you have to know where your culture is today before you can map out your path forward and understand how far you have to go. People, training and processes are all part of this assessment, as are your leadership, their coaching abilities and their attitudes and beliefs. In fact, one of the most important components of any culture change effort is a committed senior leadership team that is not just supportive but personally involved and consistently modeling the desired behaviors. Spearheading this kind of change and then doing the coaching work to make it stick is a key competency leaders at every level now need to master.
Who Needs Workplace Coaching?
The short answer: Everyone, all the way from the executive team down to the frontline team.
Strategic leadership coaching is crucial for organizations that desire to grow through and in spite of the Great Reshuffle and the Silent Quitters. Gallup notes that when organizations invest in their employees’ wellbeing and development they attract talent, increase employee retention and see an increase in productivity.
When it comes to your culture, coaching — when it’s effective — is a pivotal point of alignment. It helps people connect their own day-to-day work to the broader mission and purpose of the organization. When employees can see how their skills, talents and actions directly impact the lives of members or bank customers, it adds more meaning to the role. They become more engaged and motivated to go above and beyond for that member or customer, and at the same time, they find more fulfillment in the work they’re doing.
Why Today’s Leaders Need To Step Up Their Coaching Game
Most leaders are coaching employees on a basic level, but that isn’t enough in the current workplace landscape. Checklists and one-way discussions do not make for effective coaching conversations.
Today’s leaders need both the skillset and the mindset to go deeper — to demonstrate that they’re invested in their employees’ success, goals and job satisfaction. They have to be able to see the potential in their employees to achieve more, even when their employees may not see it in themselves. And especially if they want to reduce turnover, they have to coach with an eye toward helping their team members grow in their careers. As the LinkedIn 2022 Workplace Learning Report highlighted, companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it.
Leaders also need to be equipped to motivate in different ways to meet different needs, and to coach to each employee’s unique set of challenges and opportunities. There are many forms of diversity that employees bring to the workplace today. A few that have the greatest impact include their age, Behavior Style, working location (i.e., remote, in office, hybrid), lifestyle and life goals. Successful leaders tailor their coaching approaches to meet their individual employees’ needs and goals.
4 Strategic Approaches To Culture Change Through Coaching Employees
In most cases, when leaders don’t coach — or don’t coach adequately — it’s not because they don’t believe in its power; more often, it’s because they don’t know how to coach effectively. And that’s usually because they haven’t been coached on coaching.
When developing a coaching strategy, a one-size-fits all approach will not work in today’s employee-driven environment. As mentioned above, there are many facets of your employees’ learning and development to take into consideration, including:
Age diversity in the workplace is highly valuable. Each generation, from the Silent Gen to Gen Z (colloquially called Zoomers) brings a unique set of perspectives and values to the table. For example, Gen Z employees (born between 1997 and 2012) value having a voice, they seek collaboration, and they don’t expect to build a career at just one organization. Meanwhile, Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980) value stability, a strong work ethic, and are mostly company loyal. Knowing what each generation values can help leaders set expectations and coach employees with these values in mind.
There are a variety of behavior and communication styles employees possess, and numerous assessments to help classify specific styles. Assessments such as our own Behavior Styles model, DISC, Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram can help leaders understand key motivators and behaviors to better adapt their approach for better coaching conversations as well as how their teams’ diverse styles can work together to best accomplish goals.
While a bank or credit union may have had multiple locations pre-pandemic, the span of employees has grown with remote and hybrid working options. To coach employees across varying locations:
- Schedule regular, individual touchpoints with team members
- Incorporate multiple channels of communication to inspire collaboration regardless of working in the office or remotely.
Perhaps the most impactful yet most overlooked aspect of employee diversity is life goals. Similar to Behavior Style, this is often not immediately evident but can be uncovered through employee coaching. Understanding your team’s season of life will help determine their work-related goals and motivators. For example, a new parent or an adult child taking care of aging parents may be more oriented to complete their work by 5pm, whereas a college student and soon-to-be-retiree may not mind more flexible hours. It is key to customize coaching rewards and challenges in a way that recognizes these personal goals.
What Can Your Leaders Do To Ensure Culture Change Actually Sticks?
A thriving culture requires constant tending and attention from your leaders. They need to be tuned in to individual employee motivations, challenges and self-imposed barriers, and they need to celebrate their successes.
Importantly, it takes continual reinforcement to embed behaviors into the fabric of the organization. Oregon-based Wauna Federal Credit Union does this by holding weekly meetings with management and monthly all-employee meetings that feature success stories that have come from applying the values and learnings from associated developmental programs. Managers meet with their employees at least one a month for productive coaching conversations, and incentive programs are tied to results as well as to application of the training, values and other cultural touchstones.
As the workplace rebuilds and reorients in the aftermath of the worst of the pandemic, it is more crucial than ever for leaders to shepherd the culture and coach their employees to it. To reduce turnover, increase growth and fully engage employees, leaders need to be better coaches. Not only does coaching impact retention and revenue, it helps your employees find meaning in their work and a purpose that connects to a broader mission and values.
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