Coaching in the Age of Goblin Mode

Lisa Stone, Senior Consultant, Right Management says leaders need to learn to tackle the epidemic
Lisa Stone
A lazy worker lies in bed

Several challenging workplace trends have been emerging as a result of a stretched workforce taking out its frustrations on social media and elsewhere. 

From career cushioning to ‘acting your wage’, as well as the ongoing debate around the great resignation and quiet quitting, a shift in employee outlook and expectations has become part of a mainstream discussion and signaled a new age of career buzzwords.

Goblin Mode is the current term, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”.

Some reassurance may be found in the fact that employees who appear to be pushing back are at least still engaged. But not always. There are plenty who have succumbed to the temptations of their inner goblin by ‘quiet quitting’ or in the worst cases, giving up entirely.

While there may be signs that power is beginning to shift back in favour of employers, many business owners and leaders are at a loss - how can they bring back those employees who have fallen into their comfort zone and refuse to venture out of it?

If organisations are serious about tackling employee disengagement, investing in coaching is a surefire way of re-energising the workforce. It equips leaders with the confidence and skillset needed to manage difficult situations.

Leadership development coaching provides leaders with a safe environment to practice and hone key skills that will help them effectively manage a number of workplace challenges. For example, to deal with disengaged individuals, leaders are encouraged to be situationally intelligent by stepping back and assessing what is happening and why. The leader should always consider the bigger picture before acting, i.e., factors causing the individual to be disengaged and the impact of their behaviour on the organisation.

According to a report by Right Management, three in four workers want to feel motivated and passionate about their work, but one in five have never had career conversations with their line manager; emphasising how in many instances, leaders simply need to engage with employees – demonstrating empathy for their personal circumstances and passion for their careers – in order to re-engage them. And yes, while multiple models of leadership exist (Steve Jobs, Elon Musk etc. with their “reality distortion forcefield”), Right Management’s research identifies that effective leaders “inspire passion” and “demonstrate emotional intelligence”, two key aspects of leadership development coaching.

Once a leader understands why their employee is in “goblin mode”, they can offer the best solution for all parties. If the individual seeks career development, the leader can suggest appropriate training and skills development programmes, which according to Right Management data, improve the sense of job satisfaction and contentedness at work amongst 89% of recipients. Not only that, 67% of workers who've received skills coaching say it improved their overall job performance, and the International Coaching Federation reports an increase of up to 88% in coachee performance after undergoing a programme. It goes without saying, the impact of high-quality coaching is unparalleled.

But not everyone wants to progress within an organisation and not every situation is retrievable, so an effective leader must be prepared to find other solutions, even if that means having difficult conversations. Although, with 84% of organisations predicting a shortfall of leaders in the next five years, businesses would be wise to focus their attention on re-engaging and re-motivating disengaged employees in order to develop crucial talent pipelines, as opposed to letting them go.

So, if you’re a business owner struggling with disengaged employees, you need to question whether your leaders are doing enough to combat the issue. Usually, disengagement is a sign that leaders aren’t doing enough, but that might not be for the want of trying – they probably just lack the skills to handle this particularly challenging workforce. In which case, you need to consider leadership development coaching to upskill and empower your leaders. Granted, it requires investment, patience and time, but having well-coached, skillful leaders is integral to the long-term success of a business.

Written by
Lisa Stone
Written by
March 24, 2023