1. Ask them what help they need.
Often times the simple question of “How can I help?” will start the process of encouraging an employee. Timing of this simple, but powerful, question is important and requires you have good observation skills. Watch and listen for changes in behavior, choice of words and body language. These can be hints that an employee is becoming discouraged and frustrated. And often all the help they need is talking through the situation and having an empathetic ear to listen to their challenges.
2. Coach them to discover choices.
When an employee gets stuck and isn’t making the progress they expect, frustration sets in. When you observe an employee frustrated, first reinforce the confidence you have in them based on previous accomplishments, skills and behaviors. Start asking them questions that will help them see how to become “unstuck.” Ask enough questions for them to develop their own options on how to become successful. A little coaching can go a long way.
3. Recognize their small incremental wins.
These wins will include behavior change and skill mastery. Wins are not tasks that don’t demonstrate change. Managers often forget that the small wins deserve recognition so that employees know that they are making progress toward their bigger win. Recognizing positive change reinforces the employee’s understanding of what they need to continue doing. Don’t wait for the big wins, look for the small and recognize them, and more will come.
4. Thank them.
A leadership best practice often overlooked is thanking and praising employees six times for every time feedback is provided requiring change and adjustment from an employee. There are times when work effort may not equate to expected results. Just like a long-distance runner being handed water during the race, this is your opportunity to thank them for their efforts, yet remind them that they haven’t yet reached the finish line.
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