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Coaching Employee Performance


Coaching Employee PerformanceHave you ever had to work with an employee to improve performance? Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope with an employee who just didn’t seem to ‘get it’?

Coaching an employee may be an opportunity for a win/win situation.  While it may seem that you’ve tried everything; trying to understand what the blocks are for the employee, I wonder how many of us think about coaching as opposed to considering discipline, as a way to achieve our goals.

Here are some tips on how to coach an employee that is struggling…

  1. Call a meeting between yourself and the employee and be very up-front as to what the meeting is about – performance.
  2. Comment on some of the good work the employee demonstrates; be sure that you are sincere and specific in your praise – you need to learn what the employee’s areas of strength are, of course; but it will set a positive tone.
  3. Move into the areas of concern you have – for example: “I noticed that you appear to have some problems in making decisions about …” (or whatever it is that the issue is).  Be sure that you have some specific evidence of the problem – never go on hearsay and don’t talk to personality traits.  Talk to the behaviours demonstrated and the results.
  4. Be sure that you make the consequences of the behaviour clear. For example: “When you arrive to work late on a daily basis, your teammates have to pick up additional work on your behalf, which causes resentment.” Or…”When you make decisions concerning service to our customers, it gives the appearance that we don’t care about our customers in the way we tell them we do.”
  5. Let the employee know how this impacts you (in other words, what is the perception that you have of the situation or how it makes you feel).
  6. Ask the employee for his or her view of the situation – and be sure to actually listen to what he or she has to say. Be sure that you clearly understand and ask how the employee would feel if he or she were the customer (or the recipient of whatever the situation is).
  7. Go over what the position requirements are with respect to the demonstrated behaviour and ask the employee if he or she can see why you are concerned. Have the employee explain how he or she can change to improve.
  8.  Ask the employee what he or she is willing to do and be very clear about the fact that you want him or her to have control over his or her behaviour. You don’t want to tell the employee what to do – you want the employee to willingly acknowledge change is needed.
  9. Ask the employee what might be preventing him or her from making any of the necessary changes – is there something going on that perhaps you didn’t know about? By asking this question, you are providing an opportunity for the employee to ask for help and creating a more open dialogue for future success – he or she will know that you are sincere about helping him/her.
  10. Make an agreement with the employee as to what will happen and how. This must be a mutual agreement, by the way…and if he/she has identified things that were blocking him/her from meeting required goals; agree to your part in helping (when possible).
  11. Set some time lines around when you expect changes and be sure to follow up with an outline of what was agreed to.
  12. Be sure to leave the meeting on a positive note and confirm your belief in his or her ability to do what was agreed to.
  13. Prior to your final deadline follow up, if you notice changes in behaviour; acknowledge them along the way. Make the employee feel valued and he or she will want to make the necessary changes for you.
  14. Follow up as promised and again, be sure to acknowledge any changes in the right direction.

Coaching employees to change behaviours empowers them by helping them understand the consequences of their actions, and giving them the self-confidence to make the changes necessary. It is a much more positive way of dealing with problem issues.
It doesn’t remove responsibility and it makes it clear that you won’t accept mediocre behaviour to continue. It illustrates that there is an accountability for employees to do what they were hired to do but they don’t feel as if they are being disciplined – which can create quite a different outcome.

I believe that if we show our employees they have value to the organization and we show them that we really do respect them, they will be more willing to do what needs to be done and they will understand the importance of their role to the company. Most people, if they understand why changing their behaviours is important, will accept the change.  If they clearly know expectations and are acknowledge for their contributions to the business, I truly believe they will be more willing participants.

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