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One of the most efficient and productive ways to improve an individual’s performance is to engage in a coaching discussion. Coaching discussions can be a quick, in-the-moment observation with little interaction, or a longer higher profile one-hour sit down event. Either way, the important element here is that time is taken to provide some level of coaching. There’s no doubt, coaching employees is the best source of relevant information and direction an employee can receive.
When performed well, coaching will make a significant difference in an employee’s performance, in both the short and long-term. There are many facets to coaching to help an employee perform at a level higher than they thought was possible, and in some cases, much more rapidly as well.
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Positive reinforcement can do more for an employee’s confidence than almost anything else. When you positively recognize behaviors and skills are performed well, you are implicitly inviting the employee to repeat what you just reinforced. And more than likely, they will. That’s one of the most powerful aspects of positive reinforcement. You can help mold an employee’s behaviors and actions in a non-threatening way to produce positive results and greater confidence levels.
When you provide the reinforcement, be sure to clearly identify what it is you observed that you are reinforcing. This observation is what you want them to repeat. Once that has been stated, describe in a brief, but insightful way, the impact or value of what was done. This insight is what helps accelerate the employee’s success and encourages the repetitive behavior and productivity.
It’s important for the employee to know the level of positive influence he can have on what he does on a daily basis. This helps further reinforce the work they do for the organization and gives their jobs a valuable sense of purpose.
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Set High Expectations
You want to set the expectation bar reasonably high for employees, and then provide them the tools, training, and coaching to reach that bar. This is a very effective way to accelerate success and challenge employees to achieve more. Along the way, offer periodic insights into what is going well and provide further encouragement.
When there are some deficiencies in their behavior or performance, communicate what needs to change. You may need to step in and show them what you mean so the negative behavior or performance isn’t repeated. When you observe the new behaviors or improved performance, immediately provide positive reinforcement noting the changes and the positive impact it had for the employee. The likelihood for this particular action to be repeated is then very high.
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Teacher of Ideas, Actions and Skills
There are many different ways for coaches to teach their employees. Sometimes, it’s being a visionary helping the employee to better understand the big picture and significance of their daily job. Other times, it’s providing the words and actions to an employee unsure of the best course of action to take. The teaching process is an ongoing one, helping to accelerate the talents and skills of employees so they can learn to take on greater and more challenging responsibilities, hopefully in a more rapid time frame. However, without constant teaching, training and reinforcing employees, coaching for accelerated success is difficult to achieve on its own.
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Discuss Performance Factors
Performance factors are the behaviors, characteristics, and traits necessary for an employee to successfully perform their job and achieve their goals. These are important discussions for coaches to have with employees so they understand the developmental areas to work on.
One of the easier ways to identify some developmental areas is to think about the best employees and the specific skills they perform exceptionally well. For example, let’s say one of the performance factors you thought about was listening. Your best employee is outstanding in this area with customers, and customers routinely mention the great listening skills. You’d like another employee to work on this skill, and your responsibility will be to help coach them in this area without comparing them to the other employee.
So, in your performance discussion, you want add significant value in the listening skill and what it means to their jobs and their customers. At this point, you may want to go through some examples. Explaining why it is so important to their success helps build the motivation needed to continually perform the improved skill. The more confident and skilled they are in the meeting, the faster they will be in achieving your goal of improved listening. Look for every opportunity to positively reinforce their newly improved skills. When you observe the employee reverting back to previous listening habits, step in and use the opportunity as a teaching moment.