Improve Employee Performance by Following These 7 Steps (Part 2 of 5)

This blog is Part 2 in a series of 5 reviewing my 7 step coaching model. Step 1 was “Get directly to the point”. You can read that blog by clicking here.

Step Two — Express your feelings about their behavior or performance

This step was inspired by Ken Blanchard in his bestselling book “The One Minute Manager.” Dr. Blanchard explains that when you have a positive and respectful relationship with your employees they want to please you. Their respect for you drives their good performance. So it is critical in impacting your employee’s performance that you express your feelings about their performance issue. Commonly expressed feelings are frustration, disappointment, or surprise. I have on rare occasions confessed that I was angry with one of my employee’s behavior. I did not act angrily. That would have been disrespectful. But I was genuinely angry with them because of the choice they made.

Expressing your feelings to an employee about their poor performance makes the conversation more personal. You will know quickly if they have a deep and abiding respect for you. If they do their response will be a heartfelt apology and a commitment to never repeat the same infraction. If they lack respect they may get defensive, obfuscate, or blame-shift.

Step Three — Explain what triggered this coaching conversation

The employee deserves to know why this conversation is happening now. Meaningful coaching conversations will occur as close as possible after the performance matter has become known to you if you want them to be effective. Perhaps you overheard one of your customer service reps speaking harshly to a customer on the phone. You are compelled to address their “harshness” and direct the employee to make better choices in the future. I encourage my clients to have the coaching meeting with the employee when what they did is fresh on their mind and yours. Immediately is perfect, within an hour or two is very good. Same day is acceptable. Every day that goes by your coaching conversation will lose impact and your desire to improve their performance will be harder to achieve.

When I was a sales manager my practice was to rotate sales calls with my reps. I made a presentation to a customer then the rep made a sales call. Once we returned to the car we did a sales call review or debrief. What did they like about what I said or how I said it? What could I have done differently or better? Then the next call my sales rep would make the presentational and we would do the exact same sales call review. It was never tense. They learned quickly my purpose was to help them get incrementally better at selling. Each review was an opportunity to teach them how to be the best they can be. My sales calls were not perfect nor were theirs. The immediacy of the feedback allowed us both to listen, learn, and improve. The side benefit was the building of a strong professional relationship.

Nothing is more frustration that to be called into an office and told you did something wrong a few days or weeks ago. The boss is unhappy. He justifies the delay because he is so busy. But so much time has passed you don’t remember the circumstances. You’re left to do nothing but nod in passive agreement with your boss’s criticism. What does such a meeting achieve? Sit them down quickly or not at all. If you have been putting off an important coaching conversation put it on the calendar today! Better yet make it happen today! Your employee’s behavior will improve as they receive timely, honest, and respectful feedback from you regularly regarding their performance.