A number of times I have seen managers ready to terminate an employee and asked them if the employee knew that their performance had needed improvement.  The response was always “of course they knew.”  Then, just as I had suspected, the employee was surprised by the termination because she hadn’t received the appropriate feedback from her manager.  Coaching employees is vital to developing the skills of managers and employees and avoiding performance surprises.

What is employee coaching?

Employee coaching is giving guidance or support to employees in order to help them develop their skills and be successful in the organization.  Coaching is vital to the success of your organization.  It helps get employee goals in alignment with organizational goals, which leads to a stronger commitment to the organizational mission and goals.  Employees want to make an impact on the organization.  They want to know that what they’re doing is contributing to the organization’s success.   In addition to helping employees improve, coaching allows you to become a more effective leader.

Employee coaching needs to be a part of your daily routine as a manager.  It shouldn’t be something set aside just the once or twice per year performance appraisal.  You are very busy with your daily responsibilities and it is understandable that you don’t have a lot of extra time, but coaching is going to make your life a whole lot less complicated. The goal is for the employee to know what she is doing well, what areas she needs to develop in, and how to go about making those improvements.

You may feel as if your employees should know what they’re doing well and not doing well.   Many times the message hasn’t been clearly communicated to them and they are left in the dark.  In sports, there is a coach around constantly giving feedback about performance, yet when it comes to the corporate world, employees are lucky if they receive coaching once per month, if not once per year.

Manager tips for effective coaching:

  1. Make your employees feel comfortable and at ease during the conversation
  2. Focus on work performance and not on personality traits. Use specific examples
  3. Listen to the employee’s concerns and suggestions
  4. Set aside time and be prepared for these conversations
  5. Show your  employees that you care about their development
  6. Ask if he / she has any questions and be open to answering them
  7. Discuss strengths as well as areas for improvement
  8. Let the employee know that she has to take ownership of her performance but that you will be there for support and guidance
  9. Involve the employee in coming up with a solution
  10. Work with your employees to create relevant action plans and goals

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