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Improving employee performance through Coaching

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Improving employee performance
Over the past decades, improving employee performance has become an important subject at both corporate and entrepreneurial circles. This post focuses on how business leaders and managers can learn and adopt coaching intervention as a powerful tool for improving employee performance, engagement and productivity.

A workplace coaching is essential for helping individuals and team develop solutions by themselves, instead of waiting for their managers to tell them what to do. In traditional management, where employees are appraised once in a 365 days circle, a lot of deficiencies are swept under the table. This once-in-a-year appraisal system adopted by many line managers seems not sufficient for facilitating learning, development, and growth. While some managers do offer objective feedbacks in the process, many conceive it as a period of payback for exposing, punishing or meting dciplinary measures on insubordination. Many times, it causes disaffection, loss of trust, lack of engagement and ineffective performance.

The goal of implementing employee performance improvement strategy should focus on maximizing employee’s potential. Coaching is such a powerful intervention tool that managers can leverage to get the best out of their employees and when combined, an appraisal system makes more impact. To be effective, managers need to learn and become comfortable with the coaching framework.

Practical coaching tips for improving employee performance

A workplace coaching process begins when an employee demonstrates signs of lack of performance. The first step for the line manager who is experienced in coaching should be to help the staff identify areas of responsibilities where he or she needs to improve on. Once identified, they become the goals on which the line manager will coach the employee.

Coaching effectiveness begins with helping the employee to gain clarity around what is expected, and how they look or feel. This is crucial because until the employee clearly understands the expected outcome, coaching beyond that point becomes meaningless and counter-productive.

Let me emphasize also, that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer in coaching. To facilitate learning and growth, the manager need not offer solutions, even when he or she knows the answer. The focus is on helping the staff maximize potential. That means helping them explore all possible options for the solution, thinking creatively and creating the answers by themselves. It is only in doing that, that learning, personal and professional development and growth occurs.

Let us examine a typical coaching scenario here.…

Jane is a member of the finance team of Hotcake Bank. Over the past two weeks, JAne has been reporting late to work. The quality and quantity of her performance has dropped and the overall productivity of her department is on the decline. Chris is Jane’s line manager. He is concerned that Jane’s lateness is affecting her department’s performance negatively, and causing divergent opinions among her team. So Chris, decides to engage Jane in a coaching conversation to understand her issue, and explore possible options for performance improvement.

Below, is a coaching conversation between Chris and Jane aimed at supporting the staff to overcome lateness to work, and improve performance.

Chris: Hi Jane.

Jane: Hello Chris.

Chris: I noticed you have unusually reported late to work in the past two weeks, what could be the matter?

Jane: Thanks for asking Chris. You know I enrolled in a part-time study for my professional examination, which is due next month?

Chris: Oh, that’s great to hear, but I wasn’t aware. How are you making progress with your study?

Jane: That’s the thing Chris, it keeps me awake all night hence I have been coming to work late in the past two weeks.

Chris: Right! How long do you think this could continue?

Jane: There are three more weeks to the examination and I have so much work-load to cover within that timeframe.

Chris: I see; how’s your study impacting your work presently?

Jane: Not so great… Because I go to bed late at night, I wake up late and tired for work in the morning.

Chris: Hmmm, how could you approach your study differently in the remaining three weeks to both cover your syllabus, be punctual to work and more effective?

Jane: I’m not sure…. I’m not really sure. Emm…; I think I could limit my study to two hours every night so I can get enough sleep before coming to work in the morning.

Chris: That sounds good; what else could you do?

Jane: Emm… I could study full time on the weekend, you know?

Chris: That’s great…, what else can you do?

Jane: Maybe I could ask for a study leave?

Let’s stop at this point.

From the above coaching conversation, Jane was able to identify the challenges facing her, as well as options for the way forward. All the coach (Chris) did was ‘facilitating thinking and creativity,’ which are relevant for finding the options. But Chris has to be effective in facilitating the coaching process in ways that gives the staff confidence to explore the options and provide the solution by themselves.

The goal of workplace coaching is not for the coach to tell the staff what to do. Coaching helps individuals to maimize potential, and in the case of Jane, Chris has to be confortable with applying coaching tools to establish trust and engagement with Jane, rather than imposing unrealistic goals or threatening with disciplinary measures.

Regardless of what could have caused Jane’s lack of performance, coaching intervention needs to be administered immediately to help her overcome her weakness and improve performance.

Do share your thoughts on this below.

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About the author

Since 2010, Nkem Mpamah has been assisting entrepreneurs and corporate leaders to improve performance, create sustainable competitiveness, and maximize profit. Nkem is the founder and Chief Executive of Cognition Global Concepts (CGC).

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