During the year, you are responsible for coaching and mentoring your employees to assist them in reaching their goals and achieving optimal performance. Ongoing feedback and coaching is used to reinforce appropriate behavior, to teach the employee new skills, to motivate employee to pursue higher levels of performance, to mentor employees, as well as to correct performance deficiencies.
Regular coaching will:
- Help your employees build their skills and independence
- Increase productivity, the quality of work and the effectiveness of the work group
- Encourage employees to take more initiative in their professional development
- Support creativity, innovation and problem solving
- Minimize performance deficiencies
Performance coaching is a continuous and continual process of providing help to your employees by analyzing their performance and other job behaviors for the purpose of increasing their job effectiveness. It is an integral part of performance development.
Both informal day-to-day coaching and regular coaching sessions are recommended. These can be short update sessions to check on progress, give feedback, and address problems that have arisen.
It is important, when coaching for improvement, to call the employee to a private setting for the discussion. It is not appropriate to correct or discipline an employee where others can hear or see the conversation. If you are reinforcing positive behavior, however, doing it in a public setting may be appropriate and appreciated.
A good coach:
- Is a catalyst for change, someone who sparks action in others
- Maintains open dialogue about performance expectations
- Provides resources for goals to be attained
- Expects employees to direct the improvement of their own performance
Principles of Effective Coaching
There are five key principles for effective coaching.
- Maintain and Enhance Self-Esteem
Your employees need to feel respected and have a sense of self worth in order to be motivated, confident, innovative and committed. Employees who feel valued are more willing to share responsibility, confront challenges, and adapt well to change. It will be your job as a coach to provide useful responses that are empathic, supportive and exploratory.
- Listen Actively and Respond with Concern
Listening is a powerful way to build trust and improve communication. To listen actively means to pay careful attention to what the employee is saying. You can demonstrate that you are actively listening by being attentive and maintaining eye contact. You can show understanding and empathy by paraphrasing or reflecting back what was expressed. This encourages your employees to share their feelings and ideas with you.
- Ask for Help and Encourage Involvement
Employees want to have a say in how they do their work. They want to be involved in decisions that affect them. Involvement increases the chance that innovative ideas and solutions will surface. It is a sign of strength for a supervisor to ask employees for their suggestions on how to solve a problem or improve performance.
- Share Thoughts, Feelings, and Rationale
Employees want to know how you’re feeling about them in relation to their performance. By being open with them, you’ll encourage them to trust you, to be open in return, and to accept responsibility for improving. By sharing the rationale for your decisions, you will help them understand how their work contributes to the goals of the department/unit and the university as a whole.
- Provide Support without Removing Responsibility
As a Supervisor/Manager of others, you are in a special position to provide support to your employees. This may include advising, mentoring, and providing resources, reassigning duties, and clearing roadblocks.
Giving Effective Feedback
Providing feedback to employees about their performance is an important responsibility for all Supervisors/ Managers and an integral part of performance development.
Effective feedback is descriptive, not judgmental. It is focused on behavior, not personal characteristics or “attitude”. It is a collaborative effort intended to help the employee.
- Make your feedback specific and related to behavior
Ex.: “John, you have been 15 minutes late for the past three mornings. Please explain why.”
- Consider your timing. Give feedback either before the event in the form of advice or immediately after as positive feedback
Ex.: (as advice) “Jane, I’d like to review the content of your speech with you before you make your presentation next week so you can do a really good job.
Ex.: (as positive feedback) “Jane, you did an outstanding job in your presentation. The speech was well-researched and interesting.”
- Give the feedback in calm and unemotional language
Ex.: “John, I’m sure your progress will be much faster now that you understand how to use the new machine.”
- Check to make sure clear communication has occurred
Ex.: “John, do you understand the new protocol now? Can you explain it to me so that I’m sure you understand?”
- Focus on behavior the employee can change
Ex.: “Samantha, we would appreciate you keeping the team informed about the status of the project.”
- Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements
Ex.: “Samantha, when you play your radio in the work area, I lose my concentration. Would you mind turning it off during work hours?”
- Define the impact on you, the team, the department, and the university
Ex.: “John, when you don’t get your report to me on time, I can’t get my report to my boss on time. This slows up decisions about resources needed for next month.”
- Solicit feedback rather than impose it
Ex.: “John, did you say you would like to learn how to handle your difficult coworkers more effectively? Here are some things that have worked for me. How do you think you could incorporate some of these techniques?”