Learning doesn’t simply stop once you leave college. Once you start working, learning becomes a part of everyday activities. It starts with employee onboarding, followed by company-funded training, yearly performance reviews, and meetings with the team and the manager.
In Singapore, fresh graduates make sure they are armed with the essential skills and knowledge necessary to advance in their careers. They take traineeship programs to immerse themselves in an actual work environment and gain valuable experience.
Once you become a full-time employee, you will still find yourself needing guidance from your superiors and teammates. This is where coaching comes in to help transfer and reinforce workplace training. With that in mind, here are ways to coach employees to improve performance.
Establish a coaching culture
If you’re determined to facilitate and enable performance coaching, you have to establish a coaching culture in the workplace first. In an organization with a coaching culture, people trust each other and have the freedom to question the status quo. They also have a growth mindset and the willingness to collaborate and help each other grow regardless of their company position.
There are many ways to create a coaching culture, but it shouldn’t only come from the leaders and the management. Employees can also establish a culture of team coaching by building a culture where 360-degree feedback is the norm. Intentionally setting aside time for feedback makes a big difference in employee performance. Regular feedback can be done during group sessions or one-on-one meetings. When done well, this allows everyone to speak out and be heard.
Recognize the good things
A good coach knows how to strike a balance between praise and criticism. If coaching sessions only focus on pointing out what went wrong and what the employee should do to change, you’re demoralizing your employee instead of motivating them.
Recognizing your employees’ small and big achievements can serve as a foundation to constantly work on their areas of improvement. We don’t mean you should throw compliments like confetti because this approach can often come off as insincere. Still, giving forced compliments has a far worse effect than not giving compliments at all. Instead, take the time to assess which things are going well, so employees will feel that you value and appreciate them.
You may also want to know how the employee wants to be recognized. Employees have different preferences of receiving compliments because even the most positive praises can lead to a different interpretation. So make sure to ask them about this when starting a relationship with them. Ask them if frequent recognition keeps them motivated or a one-time compliment is just enough. Do they prefer recognition done in public or private? These clarifications will prevent embarrassment when you’re trying to be a good coach.
Before getting into formal coaching, it’s important to take the time to understand the actual individual performance and expectations, both coming from you and the employee. In a coaching relationship, parties should be on the same page about the specific performance issue and the expected level of performance. This benefits the employee to help them understand their impact on the department or the company while taking responsibility for future problems.
Mutual agreement is easier to work out when performance metrics are accurate and well-documented, which allows for more open and unbiased communication. Once you have determined that the employee isn’t meeting expectations or there are areas for improvement, it’s now the time to coach. You can try to experiment with different coaching tools, such as surveys, questionnaires, behavior assessments, and feedback tools, to better understand their motivations and performance.
Discuss the action plan
Once the manager and the employee have recognized improvement opportunities, it’s time to think of potential solutions together. The actual solution depends on the employee and their issues in performance. Keep in mind that although two people have to acquire the same competencies, they have unique ways of acquiring that competency.
The action plan can combine different training and learning methods, such as peer coaching or online course. The manager and the employee should develop an agreed action plan, including the date and follow-up sessions. It should include the goals or results the employee wishes to achieve within the given time frame.
Performance coaching is an ongoing process between managers and employees. But successful coaching all boils down to how you establish a good relationship with them. It requires trust, transparency, and a lot of patience. Performance improvement can be a sensitive topic, so make sure to handle your coaching sessions with extreme care.