Coaching is an essential tool in the development of both employees and employers. If there’s a team member who requires additional training to be at the expected level, that’s coaching. Similarly, if a manager requires further development, or a business wants to progress from where it is to where it wants to be.

Coaching takes on many forms from 1 on 1 coaching, team coaching, executive coaching and even business coaching. Basically, it’s fundamental goal is to improve the performance of the employee, the employer, and the business as a whole; which is why it’s so important!

Coaching is a cost-effective strategy used to develop employee capabilities, the benefits of which are significant when implemented effectively. It allows employees (or employers) to learn by doing, under the supervision of an experienced person who provides guidance, in order to build upon skills and knowledge and perform at their very best.

I have an underperforming employee who needs coaching – where do I start?

The first step is preparation. Having a solid game plan when undertaking coaching for an underperforming employee will ensure managers can successfully guide the process without becoming side-tracked or letting personal feelings or emotions get in the way. These 9 steps are a practical and easy guide to follow when setting out to coach an employee who is not quite where they need to be.

Invite the employee to attend the initial coaching conversation, providing them with plenty of notice so that they can also prepare for the conversation.

Open the conversation by outlining why you’re there, what you hope to achieve, and how the conversation will be structured so that there are no surprises for either person.

Take responsibility by outlining how you (as the manager or business owner) may have contributed to the employee’s underperformance, i.e., Has the employee received sufficient training or resources to succeed in their role?

Share your goals and sum up what you hope to achieve by providing your employee with coaching, and why it’s important that each employee performs at the expected level in order for the business to operate at its best.

Share your experience and provide your employee with examples of when you yourself may have been in a similar situation and the proactive steps you took to rectify the situation.

Focus on the facts by outlining the habits and behaviours of your employee that require improvement so that they can better meet expectations (remember, it’s not about their personality or making it personal).

Invite their perspective (time for active listening!) and ask the employee for their take on the situation, i.e., How do they feel about your concerns? Do they agree? Are there any underlying issues you should be aware of? How do they feel they can address the matter?

Get on the same page and try to really engage with your employee so that you can come together in order to move forward with a solution.

Co-create a solution by working together to come up with a strategy for development and improvement that you’re both comfortable with and have mutually agreed upon i.e., Future meetings, training, regularly checking-in.

Close the conversation by thanking your employee for actively participating and let them know that you’re available should they need support throughout the process.

Tips for a successful coaching conversation around performance

It’s important to keep in mind that coaching conversations are not restricted to feedback only. They are two-way conversations with the intended purpose of two parties working together to improve performance. Just as important is to recognise that coaching conversations are neither designed to provide life-counselling or create an opportunity to micro-manage employees.

When engaging in coaching conversations surrounding underperformance, it’s also worth remembering that the focus should be on habits and behaviours that aim to support improved work performance as opposed to trying to “fix” an employee’s personality. Avoid using extreme language such as ‘always’ or ‘never’ and remember the objective is development and improvement, not punishment and discipline.

The goal of coaching is to provide guidance and support around career development so by championing it in this way, employees are likely to actively participate and engage meaningfully in conversations surrounding coaching, leading to more successful outcomes.

If you need assistance in implementing effective coaching strategies in your business, or want support with any other HR related matter, get in touch with our team via the chat box here or give us a call on 08 6150 0043.

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