Coaching Individual Employees for Needed Change

Retaining a great team is critical to the success of every thrift operation. Unfortunately, there are occasions when team members need to be corrected for not meeting the expectations set forth in the job description. Having a tool and well-defined process for critical feedback and effective instruction goes a long way to keeping the right employees on the team.

The Documented Coaching Opportunity was created to capture the objective issues requiring change with a tone that encourages, rather than diminishes, the team member. It has proven to improve employee performance and maintain a positive approach to the job.

Coaching versus Correction

How you approach an employee’s shortcoming is as important as the instruction that is transferred. It is human nature to resist the term “correction”. I suspect this feeling goes back to grade school (or before). Whenever you think of the mere term “correction”, the mind goes immediately to a negative place. The term “coaching” has a more positive feeling and relates to someone who is genuinely trying to help one get better.

If you have participated in team sports, you can remember that person or coach who cared and nurtured you through a season of instruction. All coaches correct bad behavior. Great coaches focus on what needs to be corrected and why it needs to be corrected, as well as the improvement the change has on the team as a whole.

The Tool

To effectively perform this coaching, management needs to document this interaction. A written document provides a medium for clear understanding. For the manager, the exercise forces him or her to clearly communicate the issues in black & white. For the recipient, it ensures nothing is misconstrued.

In addition, a written document will, by nature, open dialog surrounding any corollary issues that might exist with the employee being coached. Issues of attitude, and not just behavior, can be addressed. All aspects of the conversation can be put on the Documented Coaching Opportunity and agreed to by the team member.

The Opening

Besides the participants name and position, the Documented Coaching Opportunity clearly states the coaching topic. This topic needs to be as specific as a single line can avail. Words like timeliness versus tardiness, efficiency versus laziness, will express the topic to be discussed in the most favorable introduction. There will be plenty of space below to expand upon the negative aspects of what has brought this meeting to occur. To start the document and follow-on conversation on a positive note is important.

The “Why”

Next, it is vitally important to establish the “why” for this exercise. Stress communication, accountability, and the organization’s goals and objectives. The final sentence sets the tone for a positive outcome and ongoing success.

The Behavior

Management must express what led to this coaching moment. This is where brutal honesty must be written out. The more objective examples of the failure to meet expectations, the better. Even if the issue is more subjective in nature. Like too much talking or a bad attitude, try to express specific examples demonstrating these issues. Make every effort to stay focused on the behavior and not the person as these issues are documented. In addition, make every effort to avoid using other employees names in this part unless absolutely necessary.

The Conversation

Up to this point, the manager has completed the document in advance of a meeting with the employee. Now the manager should detail the discussion that was had. Again, the point of this document is to open dialog so it’s important to capture the interaction that takes place. Capture as much detail as possible.

The Next Steps

List any agreed upon action steps with timelines that the conversation produced. This scheduled follow up commits both manager and employee to readdress the issue at hand.

Closing Thoughts

End the Documented Coaching Opportunity with any additional thoughts by management or team member. This section is the best place for reinforcing the positive performance in other areas. If the employee would like to add his or her thoughts to the document before signing, his or her thoughts can be copied here and initialed as well.

The Documented Coaching Opportunity is an easy straight-forward document for coaching individual employees for needed change. It effectively identifies behavior that needs correction and documents the coaching conversation, if future action (termination) is required. To that end, remember that people perform BEST when they know what is expected.

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