Year 2020 and the battle against workplace interference

On occasion, every human being on the planet experiences some form of “interference” that keeps them from doing their best. It could be organizational restructures, too much to do, personal conflicts; or the economy, competition, regulations; or family, financial or personal health issues. It’s usually difficult to set aside our reactions to these things and focus on our goals.

At work, this is a common problem: a recent survey by my company, InsideOut Development, found that while everyone experiences interference at some time or other, more than half (60%)
of employees experience workplace interference every day that prevents them from accomplishing their goals.

Some of this interference is simply out of a managers’ control; the average worker claims they show up to work only 68% “charged up,” meaning they face a lot of interference before ever stepping foot in an office. While managers can’t reduce all forms of interference for their employees at work or at home, here are three simple ways managers can use coaching to help their employees battle interference in 2020.

1. Establish frequent check-ins and continuous communication

After an employee receives a task and starts on the path to completing it, “check in” and see how they’re progressing. While most managers understand this concept many don’t know how to have this type of coaching conversation.

At InsideOut Development, we recommend using three simple questions to make every check-in conversation a meaningful one. First, ask, “What’s working?” This sets the stage for the conversation by reminding both the manager and the employee what is going well and helping them make progress. Second, we ask, “where are you getting stuck?” This helps to give everyone a clear picture of the breakdowns in any given assignment without leaving much room to play the “blame game,” which never moves a project forward. Then, after managers and employees understand what is and is not working, we’re ready to ask, “what can we do differently?”

This ensures the conversation will end with people talking about solutions instead of making excuses.

Asking employees where they’re getting stuck will help managers identify any interference they may face, and asking what can be done differently will help employees
overcome or reduce that interference moving forward.

2. Start listening instead of telling

Employees want a collaborative approach to communication where their leaders don’t just communicate roles and goals, but also listen closely to the people they manage. Any misunderstanding when it comes to expectations can cause major interference. Being understood (not to be confused with being agreed with) seems to be a fundamental human need. One way managers can reduce that kind of interference is by listening to understand instead of just listening to respond.

Listening to understand requires active listening, where we summarize what we think is meant by the speaker to their satisfaction before we continue with what we want to say. Managers who actively listen to their employees will not only learn the respect and confidence of their employees, but will often empower employees to see for themselves what is interfering with their work and how to overcome it.

3. Coach with GROW in mind

One way to approach coaching is with the GROW® model, which is an acronym for Goal, Reality, Options and Way Forward. First, the manager helps employees establish a clear goal they want to accomplish. Next, they explore what reality they are working within — what they have tried so far, whether there are constraints due to deadlines, budgets, or personnel. Then, they look at all the options they can think of that might move them from the reality towards the goal, and finally, they select which options they want to take action on – the way forward.

This model provides employees and managers a clear system to follow for developing and achieving goals at work. Having clear goals and a path to accomplish them will allow employees to better focus on the task at hand instead of any interference that surrounds them.

Interference can be a major setback at any workplace; in fact, almost one in three employees say interference makes them consider quitting. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Managers who use coaching to establish frequent check-ins, become active listeners and use a systematic approach to goal-setting and problem solving will help employees overcome these hurdles. In doing so, managers can help improve employees’ performance and their company’s bottom line.