Are you feeling stuck and repeatedly receiving the same answers from your team for unmet deliverables? Are you noticing low morale in the office?
Coaching for performance improvement may be just what your team needs right now. In this article, we’ll share five tips on improving your team’s performance — and your leadership ability — through performance coaching.
As much as we want to keep our work relationships positive, let’s face it — leading a team doesn’t always involve shared happy moments. One of the best things a leader can do for their team is to drive growth through consistent improvements, and by helping team members realize their full potential.
When things get stagnant in the office, it’s time you step in with a plan to implement performance coaching.
What is performance coaching?
Performance coaching is developing and guiding your team to do their jobs better. Think of employees at a high-performing company as star athletes — by working with coaches and receiving constant feedback and personalized attention, they can make tremendous progress.
So how does this work? Rather than only receiving occasional and retroactive feedback about their performance, coaching best practices dictate that, like athletes, employees should receive feedback continually.
If performance reviews make your employees nervous, it’s understandable. Performance coaching doesn’t have to resemble a review. While performance reviews focus on aligning with an HR process, effective coaching techniques target individual employees and their needs.
These coaching sessions may be brief, frequent, and much less formal than a performance review. But the goal here is to put our people over the process and establish trust by helping employees feel valued, supported, and engaged.
What does coaching for performance look like?
Performance coaches understand and support their clients holistically — they’re a shoulder to cry on when times are hard and the first to celebrate an accomplishment. To excel at coaching employees, we must be excellent at giving objective, actionable, and constructive feedback.
This coaching process has two main pillars: feedback and collaboration. By gathering as much information as possible, we can leverage this form of continuous performance management and follow up with co-workers about an action plan.
This might include conversations to tackle performance issues and employee engagement, highlight competencies and skill sets, and acknowledge our employee’s progress.
5 tips for leaders on how to coach for performance
A performance coaching relationship recognizes that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. With access to a mentor and direct attention, employees benefit from quality communication to understand and align with the company’s performance expectations. Here are five tips for leaders who are interested in learning how to coach employees.
1. Establish trust with your team or coachees
Good coaching involves a work environment that prioritizes employee well-being and strong relationships. It’s much easier to work together with employees who trust and rely on us to meet performance goals that they believe in.
2. Define problems accurately
It’s not enough to say, “Don’t be late.” We need to understand the factors affecting performance and be able to pinpoint the real issue to solve the problem effectively. Instead, be specific: “Being late disrupts our weekly meeting and suggests to other team members that you don’t respect my time, which harms team morale. Make sure you’re here when the meeting is scheduled to begin.”
3. Create an action plan
When we finish a session or conversation with our team members, everyone should be leaving with performance objectives or actionable next steps that they can immediately put into practice.
4. Remember to follow up
Successful coaching takes much more than just a session. As coaches, we must keep track of employee goals and progress. With weekly check-ins, we can track progress and provide feedback or tweak ineffective strategies.
5. Plan your sessions
We could have the best coaching skills in the world, but unless we’ve put in the time to prepare for each meeting, we shouldn’t expect the best results. Don’t show up empty-handed: make sure you have all the information (from previous sessions and about future goals) handy.
Why incorporate performance coaching?
Performance coaching is a powerful tool to build a better team. Here’s how we can maximize the benefits for our teams.
- Develop self-awareness in your office team
Feedback and communication are the cornerstones of good coaching, and with performance coaching, each employee receives personalized and effective feedback they can immediately put into practice. Regular follow-up sessions with a coach will allow employees to further measure their own performance and start to recognize ways they can improve their own work.
Unlike regular performance reviews, continuous performance management allows employees to be agile and continually make changes as they receive information and feedback about their performance.
- Establish a culture of constant feedback and open communication
As employees become accustomed to receiving constant feedback and discussing their performance one-on-one with coaches, they may become more comfortable asking questions and making suggestions of their own. This can lead to a workplace culture where employees are both expected and encouraged to voice concerns and questions.
- Lead every team member to their full potential
In larger teams, employees can often feel lost if the company doesn’t give them personal attention and feedback. This could be due to a lack of motivation and engagement, which leaves employees feeling unsupported and unacknowledged. Bringing a performance coach into the office can make employees feel valued and supported. This can, in turn, boost employee confidence as they receive positive feedback or actionable advice.
- Give them goals to aspire to
Great performance coaches identify strengths and weaknesses within individual employees and help them take advantage of what they’re good at. This knowledge of their own skills and competencies allows employees to target goals that align with their strengths, and perhaps aspire to promotions and leadership roles.
- Empower your team to manage themselves, and achieve more
Self-aware and communicative employees are engaged, empowered, and motivated. Armed with concrete knowledge about what they’re capable of and how they can continue to improve their performance in the office, employees are likely to be more proactive about managing their own advancement and goals in the workplace.
Coaching employees can benefit our workplaces in more ways than one. Continuous feedback from a coach can drive employee self-awareness. The employees feel challenged and engaged, and the feedback from coaches helps build a customized performance improvement plan. This symbiotic relationship helps employees develop communication skills and resilience and allows managers to hone their leadership strategies.
As coaches, we know that good communication skills make great relationships. Try Practice’s all-in-one client management system today to make communication with clients easy and hassle-free.