In today’s workplace, coaching and counseling have become forgotten practices as businesses do more with less people. Instead of applying coaching and counseling techniques to help improve employee’s performance, build commitment, and excellence in employees, managers may see staff not maximizing their potential, or just plain doing something wrong, and ignore it hoping it will go away.
Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t go away. It just gets worse and affects the morale of the entire group. A true leader gives feedback on a regular basis. Remember that people, especially Generation Xers and Y’s, generally need feedback on their performance. They want to know how well they are doing in relation to what is expected. And they need it more than once a year in their performance appraisal.
One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to develop people so that they are capable of doing bigger things in the future than they are today. And you do that through coaching your people.
The easiest ways to give feedback is through praise. Be sure to let your people know when they are doing things right. All too often, we take for granted when a person does something right. After all, that’s just part of their job, right? Wrong.
We all need positive reinforcement from time to time to let us know we are on track. Make sure your praise is effective by praising immediately, for specific actions, and for the record. Put it in their file and give them a copy of it. Or simply jot a quick note and give it to them.
But then, there are the times when you identify a problem that interferes with an employee’s work performance. Most of the time, an employee is unaware of or doesn’t care how his or her behavior is interfering with the productivity of the group. That’s when you need to do something—and quick.
When counseling someone, avoid beating around the bush, Get right to the point. Decide what minimum action is acceptable as a result of the discussion, have at least one proposed course of action to suggest, and determine what the timetable for performance improvement will be.
Then start with describing the performance issue in a non-threatening manner. Focus on the problem, not the employee. Avoid saying phrases such as, “You have a bad attitude.” Tell the employee exactly what he or she does that makes you feel that they have a bad attitude. Tell the person specifically how it creates a problem. Then ask questions to collect information and hear their side of the story.
Next, identify and record possible solutions, both yours and any the employee suggests. Finally, determine the specific action that is to be taken and help the employee develop a specific action plan as to how they will get there.
Follow-up is a very important part of coaching, so decide when to follow-up with an employee. You may need to several times, depending on the situation. Throughout the whole procedure, let the employee know that this is for his or her benefit— that you value them and want to give them the skills to succeed. Also let them know that receiving ongoing coaching from you is part of their job.
So, how would you grade yourself as a coach/leader? Are you already using these techniques to help develop your people? If not, try it—you will be rewarded with a happier, more productive workforce.
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