When I was in corporate management, I spent a great deal of time coaching employees. Working in a call center that survived on productive employees meant that management coached employees to ensure performance remained on track. All employees had access to incredible training and were expected to use that learning to solve customer problems and process customer orders. Looking back, I’m amazed at how well each of us did as supervisors. We were well trained, we knew the metrics employees were tasked with meeting and what we should do if they didn’t, but what we learned outside of our formal training—from our leadership, was how to conduct actual coaching sessions. As a result, we could conduct coaching sessions with confidence and compassion while still communicating standards and possible ramifications if performance wasn’t improved or behavior corrected. In this post, I want to provide you with a few tips, based upon my twenty-five years in business.
Here are six aspects to consider when coaching your employees:
Prepare for the meeting
Do your homework and understand the employee’s performance history and if possible, their strengths and areas that have needed improvement in the past.
Help preserve the employee’s dignity
Have conversations with employees in private and do what you can to help them view the conversations as opportunities. Keep all associated paperwork confidential and only discuss coaching sessions with your leadership and other managers as needed.
Listen to the employees
Give employees the opportunity to offer information about the situation. They may surprise you and explain that they have a medical or other issue that’s potentially protected by law. You may also discover that you have the ability to correct what’s negatively impacting their performance.
Change course when needed
Understand that you may need to change your plans during your conversation. You may want to let them know that you’re going to check into the situation and will need to meet with them again. Be flexible because you may need to confirm or gather additional information.
Be clear and concise
Be prepared to share only what’s relevant during the conversation. Your writing and verbal communication need to be consistent and clear. Employees should leave the meeting with a clear understanding of the situation, what needs done moving forward and how you can assist them in achieving their goals.
Schedule a time to follow-up with the employee and ensure they understand that you’ll do so. Then have that follow-up conversation (you may need more than one), and recognize their progress and continue coaching to improve performance as needed.
Photos by Thomas Hawk, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.