Recruiting and retention challenges remain among the most concerning for companies that hire engineering professionals.
I know the statistics and I experience them first hand while recruiting for our clients, but it became even more apparent when I recently attended and presented at an American Council of Engineering Companies, Washington (ACEC-WA) conference.
In speaking with many of the Principals of the firms attending, attracting and retaining talent is their greatest concern as they look to the future.
In just 3 short years, the Millennial generation will make up 48% of our workforce. By the year 2030, they will make up 75%. Companies that are going to remain competitive and thrive will need to be clear about what attracts and retains this key generation.
One way to start attracting millennials is to build a coaching culture. One of the many positive traits of this generation is that they're interested in opportunity. Help them learn and grow and you'll attract and keep them.
This obviously holds true for more than this generation. Most people, especially the kind you want on your teams, want and need to be growing and developing. This is where building a coaching culture comes in.
Creating a coaching culture simply means supporting your employees so that they develop and learn new skills and as a result become stronger assets to the company.
Training, consistent feedback, and opportunities for growth translate to better attendance, higher retention rates, more employee engagement, greater innovation and creativity, and happier customers/clients resulting in repeat business. Bottom line, a coaching culture affects YOUR bottom line positively.
As a leader, here are three ideas to put you on the path to creating a coaching culture at your company:
It starts with you; lead by example
Invest in yourself as a leader. Work with a coach and share the outcome with your team.
If they see you as the leader growing and applying what you’re learning to better the company, then they are naturally going to be interested in experiencing the same for themselves.
Don’t fix the problems for them
This is one I learned the hard way…several times. You do not do your employees any favors by swooping in to solve the problem for them.
The next time an employee comes and stands in your doorway with a challenge/problem, don’t give them the answer. Start asking open-ended questions that lead them to the solution on their own. I have found that 9 times out of 10, the employee knows the answer/solution already.
By using this method, you empower your team to solve problems which increases confidence and accountability. You’ll soon find that by starting this practice, your team will start bringing you solutions instead of problems, and that’s a pretty great place to be.
Word of caution to the leader, this takes practice and a level of awareness – it’s easy to revert to our old ways, especially if you’re used to being the “problem solver.”
Do what you say; say what you mean
If you’re going to build a coaching culture, you must walk the walk.
This means that training, feedback, giving your team a voice, providing leadership opportunities through committee and project work, mentoring, and a growth mindset as the leader are key to the success of a developing a coaching culture. Your actions as leader must be congruent with what you’re saying.
The worst thing you, as the leader, can do is to say you’re committed to creating a coaching culture, and not act in accordance. Don’t start this process unless you're committed to it and prepared to back it up with action. You’ll only set yourself further back by eroding the trust of your team.
Companies focused on creating a coaching culture have the competitive advantage in attracting and retaining the best talent.
After all, who wouldn’t want a more engaged team and better bottom line?