Welcome to episode 30 of the Rethink HR podcast, brought to you by bettHR.

In today’s episode, it’s taking the leadership lessons from previous episodes about how to use your leadership to positively influence your team’s employee experience. To do that, it’s how to be a coach by creating conversations that enhance discussion using the techniques shared in this episode.

Learn how to ask coaching questions that lead to ongoing conversations and the empowerment of your employees. Use these four frameworks: How to ask open-ended questions, “Tell me more…,” stop leading to your desired outcome, and stop asking why.

And when your employee has that experience with you as a leader, they will model that behavior and create positive experiences for their own employees as well.

Melissa Anzman (00:00): For each conversation to be aligned with the emotion you want to evoke, not the emotion you may be feeling at the moment. I'm Melissa Anzman. HR practitioner turned CEO of a thriving employee experience company, but it wasn't all that long ago that I worked as an HR business partner, responsible for increasing employee engagement at companies nationwide. And I struggled to move the needle even after trying everything under the sun, fast forward, past many fail tactics and lessons learned. And you'll see how I've been able to crack the code and replicated at companies of all sizes for creating true engagement and doing HR work that matters work that changes the lives of leaders, HR professionals, and employees. By focusing on the employee experience, I created the rethink HR podcast to give you actionable step by step strategies to help you make an impact. If you're an HR leader or one on the rise, who's looking to stop spinning your wheels, doing the same tired activities that aren't driving results, or you want to have a career.

Melissa Anzman (01:06): You love your in the right place. Let's get started in previous episodes of the rethink HR podcast. I've walked through how you as a leader, whether you're in HR or outside of HR really is an integral part of the employee experience. And the role that you play is so important for your overall employee's success. Now, you're not the only reason why people leave a company, but you are the main contributor to those positive and negative experiences for each employee over their life cycle. And so we've talked about the framework and how to do it and how to actually present your leadership in a way that creates positive experiences. But how do you practically implement that? How does that look like on a daily basis? One of the best things that I learned that worked when we did some measurements, as far as engagement increases and metrics around success rates for this process was being the coach.

Melissa Anzman (02:14): So as a leader, one of your biggest roles obviously is to manage your people and to get work done and all those things, but successful leaders who want to create an, a ploy experience that is positive and reflects your ideal culture is a true coach. Now, you know, that being a leader and being a manager are two very different things. As a leader, you're encouraging your team. You're helping them grow their own skills. You're providing positive and negative feedback. You're hearing and integrating different viewpoints. And you're inspiring your team, your people to follow your vision. Whereas as a manager or a boss, you're coordinating and directing activities and team members to deliver what's needed, it's more directive. Now, both approaches can be effective, but from the employee experience perspective, leading will be, get more positive touch points while building in more self-starting and thought leadership by your own team members.

Melissa Anzman (03:20): So we're not only just creating positive experiences for them, but they're then going to pass on those positive experiences to their team and their coworkers and so on. So think of it in the same vein as the proverb, give a person a fish and you feed them for a day, teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime. So from your leadership perspective, a manager gives a fish, whereas a leader teaches a person to fish. Wouldn't you rather have your team filled with people who can fish on their own without a lot of handholding from you. I know that sounds good to me, but learning how to be a coach for your employees in the perspective of employee experience is one of the best skills that you can invest in yourself that has really instant packed for you and for your team.

Melissa Anzman (04:11): So fair warning is one that you need to practice to get used to. It's not something that you just say, I'm going to do this. And it happens. It takes work. It takes practice. It's like a new muscle that you have to learn. And the premise of coaching your team is to be available to them as a resource and be great at asking powerful questions. So it starts with how you arrive and show up mentally to each and every conversation that you have with them. This is where you, as the leader have to remember the employee experience, framework, the know act, feel, and touch for the PR for each project, for each conversation to be aligned with the emotion you want to evoke, not the emotion you may be feeling at the moment from there. It's about you being open to listening and asking questions.

Melissa Anzman (05:05): So here are some things I'd like for you to consider as you bring in coaching, coaching conversations going forward. And I will tell you a little hint or a little tip or behind the scenes. I have these written out on a note card. Yes, an index card. I'm that old in front of me at all times to remind myself, to coach my team versus to be more directive. So I still practice this and it's something I work on daily. The first to have those crucial conversations that are meaningful, asking powerful questions. You want to ask open ended questions. So this will take you as slight pause before you ask a question, but you can ask the same thing you had in mind, just framed slightly differently. So for, do you have any other options which I find myself asking or hearing frequently in meetings? That's a closed question.

Melissa Anzman (06:05): The only response to that could be yes or no, but if we want to coach and give a positive experience, we can reframe the question to what other options do you have. So by doing that, you've opened up the conversation for your employee or your leader or your team member or whomever to have various different types of responses. Open ended questions are key to not only encouraging more conversations, but they are also key to changing the mindset of your employees. And to keep them talking through the situation many times a closed question, which is what we tend to default to an ask. It has an, could I should say, trigger a defensive response, or it could put your employee in a place of feeling as though they've missed something or overlooked the obvious answer. Whereas when you ask a question in a open ended manner, your employee's able to use their own critical thinking first to work out the problem, maybe work it out, out loud and in collaboration with you.

Melissa Anzman (07:18): So the positive experience that we're creating here is empowering our employees to use their brain. That thing we've hired them for to not just sort of say, here's this, you know, he thinks solve it for me and not them to then get defensive or feel as though they are not enough, but instead, Hey, they value my opinion. They want me to respond. Let me pause and think it through the second thing to do with your questions or your coaching. So to speak is this phrase. It is three words. It is. Tell me more. Now, one of my friends is a masterful masterful coach. And the one phrase that she says more than any other is you mentioned that, you know, fill in the blank. Tell me more about that. Tell me more is a genius, three word pairing, use it as frequently as possible and full disclosure.

Melissa Anzman (08:18): My friend is in HR and she uses it all the time. And I learned it from watching her in action and realizing she uses it with me in our friendship too. And when I think about it, I'm like, wow, she definitely is engaged in our conversation and she wants to learn more. So these three words tell me more work so well because you're asking for more, more details and background and solutions and so on and moving the conversation forward. Whereas like, as you do that new nugget, new ideas, new insights, new information will just magically appear because we are talking through the conversation versus sort of saying it and moving on. This is particularly helpful when your employee is trying to solve a problem that isn't obvious or when they've brought a false problem to the table, hoping that you are going to uncover the underlying problem.

Melissa Anzman (09:18): When you ask for more, you can continue to investigate without being too pointed or directive. Tell me more, definitely empowers your employee. And from the experience perspective, we are bringing them into the fold and into the conversation. And we're asking them like, not a explain yourself, we're asking them, Hey, like I need more information. Tell me more about that. Tell me your perspective, share with me what you know and your knowledge next. Please stop leading with your outcome. I can't tell you how much I see this. And this is a lazy leadership, my friends, and from an experience perspective, it's not helpful for you or your culture or your employee. So when you're coaching, you don't want to be a teller. You want your employee to collaborate with you or come up with the solution as an outcome of your discussion. Often we ask questions that will help lead our employee to what we think is the best solution or option or way forward.

Melissa Anzman (10:27): And that isn't being a great coach. That's giving them a fish. We want to teach them how to fish. So instead, ask for variables and work through them together. We're not going to say, Oh, this solution looks like the best one, right? That's a leading question because what if they're like, yeah, no, that's not the one I would choose. Then it turns into a potential, a conflict conversation, which nobody, well, not nobody, but most people don't like to get into. So we're going to not lead. We're going to ask real questions that are thought provoking to get their insight. Next. This one kills me, which is stop asking why digging into the why of things is one of the quickest ways to get your conversation off track. I know for my fellow curious leaders out there, it is hard to not ask why I hear you.

Melissa Anzman (11:26): I am that person. I want to know why, but when you ask why the person on the other end of that question is left and only one position, which is defending their motivation or questioning their own decision, making skills, neither of those perspectives is good for your employee experience is specially when you are trying to have a productive conversation. So when stead with a slight rephrasing, you can still find out the why, but we do this by asking what questions. So here's an example. Why did you miss the deadline question? What's, what's a good response to that, right? Instead, ask what factors led to you missing the deadline. I'm still getting the same result. I'm still understanding why the deadline was missed, but I'm using factors. I'm using something outside of the why outside of the blame game, that the word Y usually in w we're getting outside of that to get a better response, it's really easy.

Melissa Anzman (12:35): You just have to practice the rephrasing. So think through you, these two questions regarding a missed deadline, why indicates that that person failed, right? That's why they get defensive. Whereas what factors provides you some room for explanation and discussion. So there are so many other skills that you can implement that you can bring into your fold to be a great coach. But the important part here is that you're considering your employee experience framework first, because we want to add a ton of those positive experiences into the bank, as a leader versus knocking it out of contention. This podcast is brought to you by better microsites with your HR budgets being cut and you being on the hunt for ways to do more with less. Why not consider a total rewards or benefits microsite to not only increase your employee experience, but also deliver increased value at half the cost.

Melissa Anzman (13:39): We all know that your off the shelf benefit administration website is extremely user unfriendly, lacking customization, easy to find information, a crazy firewall, and the missing search function all at an extremely high cost, better microsites are a hundred percent designed based on what your employees need to know your branding and your information, improving the speed in which your employees can find that critical benefit information while seamlessly connecting with your enrollment vendor. And it's ready quick. We need just about six weeks to get you up and rolling just in time for annual enrollment, learn more about better microsites at better.com/microsites. That's bettHR.com/microsites. Thank you so much for tuning in for this episode of the rethink HR podcast. For more information, including show notes and resources, please go to RethinkHRPodcast.com/30.