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Coach’s Diary: Building Staff Commitment


Olivia Stefanino helps a client who is having problems motivating his staff.

John looked down at his feet – and with a long sigh admitted that he needed help with motivating and leading his staff. In business for more than three years, John had found running his design company easy at first - as both he and his partner Paul had shared the same goals and passion for their work.

Indeed, their hard work and enthusiasm had soon paid off – with the company seeing growing profits year on year, as the pair attracted more clients to the agency. It had soon become clear that if the company were to continue to expand, more staff had to be appointed.

At first, John had enjoyed interviewing and recruiting – and had prided himself on his man-management skills. But soon the novelty had worn off – mainly because both John and Peter were disappointed that their staff did not have quite such a strong work ethic as the business partners had hoped!

John admitted that morale was worsening within the agency – and he was worried that profits would soon start to nose-dive too. John and I had been friends for a while – and our conversation was informal. When John had finished telling me his tale of woe, I suggested that he should think about adopting a coaching style of management – as I had found that this paid fantastic dividends with my corporate clients.

John’s first port of call, I suggested, should be the excellent “Coaching and Mentoring for Dummies” guide, written by Marty Brounstein. Contained within the book, I explained, were the five pillars for building staff commitment.

John promised that he would buy the book at the earliest opportunity – but asked me to itemise the five pillars for him there and then. I did so, remembering how clearly they had been described in Brounstein’s book...

1. FOCUS: When focus is strong, employees know what they need to accomplish in their jobs. They know what is expected of them and they are aware of the values of the team and the company. They know where the group is going and what its priorities are. While the group’s plans may change, chaos and mystery are infrequent.

2 .INVOLVEMENT: When this is strong, staff feel that they have some say over the matters that affect their day-to-day work situations. They have input into the planning, problem solving and decision making that affect their level of responsibility. They feel included. The old, but true, adage that “people support most what they help create” is demonstrated by the use of this pillar.

3. DEVELOPMENT: When this is strong, opportunities for learning and growth are encouraged and supported. These opportunities are both formal and informal in nature – ranging from such activities as a training course to a mentoring discussion between an employee and a senior manager. Helping people continuously strengthen their knowledge, skills and experience are common practice.

4. GRATITUDE: When this pillar is strong, efforts and accomplishments of good performance are noticed and acknowledged. How gratitude is provided ranges from formal to informal – but efforts to recognise what employees do well occur regularly.

5. ACCOUNTABILITY: When this is strong, employees are given responsibility along with the authority to carry it out – which creates in them the desire to produce results with high standards. Lax performance is not tolerated, while measuring progress and reporting results are normal practices. People produce quality results not just because it is expected of them but more importantly, because they enjoy experiencing a sense of achievement.

John nodded as I recited the five pillars for building staff commitment, saying that he could already see where he was going wrong. John recognised that he needed to devote more time to staff development – a practice that, until now, he had abdicated.

* Olivia Stefanino is a leadership development consultant and executive coach, who works with blue chip organisations, SMEs and individuals. Download your free e-booklet “128 ways to harness your personal power” at


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