Tips for managers on effective coaching conversations

Tips for managers on effective coaching conversations

Coaches instruct, train, develop, assist, and support performance. They use the feedback process to direct and redirect work efforts and behaviors.

When coaching your employees, you help them gain self-awareness and insight into their demonstrated behavior. Coaching tell the employee what is good/bad, why it is good/bad, and how they can improve.

Here are some tips for managers on how to conduct effective coaching conversations.

Coaching tips for reinforcing successful behavior:

  • Focus on one successful behavior
  • Recount the successful behavior, its outcomes and impacts in detail to the employee.
  • Use a specific example.
  • Point out the elements that contributed to the result being such a success.
  • Work with the employee to identify the root causes for this successful behavior.
  • Brainstorm with the employee about ways that the behavior can be replicated in the other circumstances.
  • Describe the benefits of this behavior and your confidence in the employee’s ability to continue to demonstrate it.
  • Document notes of this discussion.
  • Watch for and praise repeated demonstration of the successful behavior.

Coaching tips for addressing poor performance:

  • Focus on one specific behavior that you consider to be poor performance.
  • Rather than describing in detail the behavior that is causing lower than desired performance, describe one thing the employee could do differently to achieve greater success.
  • Describe the benefits of this new desired behavior and your confidence in the employee’s ability to demonstrate it.
  • Use specific examples.
  • Listen carefully and be open to the employee's perspective without judgment.
  • Involve the employee in identifying how they can master and apply the new desired behavior.
  • If required, draft a mutually agreeable development plan.
  • Document key elements of this discussion.
  • Set dates for a follow up discussion.
  • Watch for and praise demonstration of the new desired behavior.

Coaching tips for following up on poor performance:

  • Ensure that you have gathered sufficient evidence of demonstrated behavior and results: direct observation, specific work results, reports and records, feedback shared from others.
  • Review the initial discussion around poor performance, and commend any progression made by the employee in demonstrating the new desired behavior as well as on their development or performance improvement plan.
  • Engage the employee in discussions about why any improvements in behavior are insufficient, look for reasons why.
  • Describe again, in detail the desired behavior and when/how it should be exhibited.
  • Discuss consequences of poor performance (these should be consistent across the organization), and agree on next steps.
  • Check in with employee to ensure they have all the support and resources they believe necessary to help them change their behavior; allocate as required.
  • Set dates for improvement milestones.
  • Continuously communicate your confidence in the employee and your support of their development.

Learn how other managers have used coaching and feedback to improve employee performance

At Basic American Foods, they revamped their performance management process so that rather than being a once a year event everyone dreaded, it became a year round process that focused on managers giving their employees regular feedback and coaching in support of their performance and development.

At Pine Cove Christian Camps they ensure managers and employees have ongoing discussions about performance and goals in weekly one-on-one meetings that are logged and tracked in their performance management software.

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