Employee Coaching: 3 Guidelines to Make It Work

Sections of this topic

    Managers who coach their people become known as good managers to work for, developers of talent, and achievers of business results. They also become better leaders in the process. Jack Welch, Former CEO GE.

    The key to employee coaching is giving effective feedback. Feedback is information about performance that leads to the person changing poor performance or continuing good performance. There are two major types of feedback:

    • Corrective – which is intended to be problem solving. It lets people know what should be improved and how to make the improvement. Its purpose is to help the person perform better the next time
    • Positive – which is intended to be encouraging. It lets people know what they’ve done well and recognizes or rewards them for it. Its purpose is to motivate the person to maintain or even increase the performance.

    Three Guidelines for Effective Coaching

    1. FIT:
    Tailor feedback so that it matches the level of skill and experience of the recipient. If the person in new on the job, then spend more time. Ask for her understanding of the task; ask to see how she performs the task; ask for problems she is having. Only then, provide feedback. Perhaps the person needs additional training.

    2. FOCUS:
    Keep you feedback “on target”. For people to benefit from feedback, it must be clearly focused on the desired improvement or development.

    • Poor Example: Jack, you need to improve your expense reports.
    • Better Example: Jack, accounting has returned your expense reports because it was not complete. It needs to include dates, purpose, description of the expenditures as well as the receipts. Once everything is filled out they can make payment quickly.

    3. TIMING:
    Give development feedback at a time when people can respond to it, and use it. Usually, this means before the person is going to perform a behavior. For example, work with a person as she is developing an important presentation, not wait until after to say what went poorly.

    Management Success Tip

    In coaching, keep these three rules in mind:

    • Usefulness: Whenever you feel you have the right to give someone feedback, you have the obligation to make sure it is useful.
    • Support: Provide the needed resources for the person to do well, including your time.
    • Confidence: Act as if you expect good things. And when a person does make a change, even if not as great as you’d like, notice it with appreciation.

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?