Coaching an Employee to Persevere
Persistence seems to be a nitty-gritty, nose-to-the-grindstone mentality, right? Right. A persistent person is someone who keeps on keeping on under every possible trial. They face adversity, so they push harder. They encounter walls, so they jump higher. They experience setbacks, so they strive faster. People who persevere are willing to push through the impossible until it becomes possible.
Employees at all levels face problems that may make them want to quit. Sales professionals will hear no after no. Customer service reps get on-going complaints. IT technicians face glitch after glitch. So, how are they going to handle the heat? As their coach, it’s your job to:
- Be available, engaged and listen to their concerns.
- Identify what sort of tenacity they currently have.
- Determine how to build upon what’s already there.
Observe them in action
To accomplish the first task, all you need to do is observe them. Watch them in action. And depending on how self aware they are some people get uncomfortable with this. Their reaction might be clue #1 that they’re on the defensive side of the fence, which isn’t often correlated with high levels of perseverance or performance. Notice how they react to problems, for example:
- How frustrated does the person get when rejected by a customer?
- How long does it take for the person to get over an unexpected problem?
- When a customer complains or is irate, how does the person react?
- How does the employee handle others who confront them?
- What does the employee do to mentally stay encouraged or positive?
Reframe their thinking to persevere
After assessing their level of personal persistence, it’s time to build upon it. Although this step is often a lot harder than the first, it is possible to help someone become more persistent. It comes down to one basic belief: it’s all about them. They have to reframe their thinking. The more a person takes setbacks or problems personally, the less persistent she probably is. Ask them questions about how they see it. Ask them questions about what steps they can take to deal with difficult situations. The employee needs to make it about what they need to do differently – instead of making it about who they are. If they attend to their actions and behaviors, they will feel empowered that something can change and will persevere. If they focus on their personality and personhood, they will feel defeated.
It’s your job to help them shift where they are centering their attention and effort. H. Jackson Brown has one of my favorite quotes on perseverance, “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance.” Remind your employees it’s not about one problem or issue, it’s about the journey of becoming the type of person he dreams of becoming or can become.
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Rick and his business partner Doug published career changing leadership practices in their book, Superstar Leadership. They designed the Superstar Leadership Model as a way to remember and apply the principles.
Rick Conlow International is a consulting and training company that coaches leaders to achieve record-breaking performances in sales growth, customer experience improvement, employee engagement and leadership effectiveness. In this business, Rick also serves managers worldwide online through training and coaching services designed to accelerate their careers and teams’ success.
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