Every manager needs to provide regular feedback to his or her employees. Some do it easily while others avoid it until a crisis arises. Good coaching is based on one assumption – you have formally delegated assignments to your employees and the employee has developed a plan to carry out the work. Plans don’t have to be fancy; for a simple task it may be summed up in a couple of sentences. Of course, projects or large assignments require a more elaborate plan.
Whatever the case, planning on the part of the manager and the employee is the basis for good coaching. Part of each plan is to set up a logical, regular time to meet and discuss results on an ongoing basis.
Here are the fundamental Do’s and Don’ts to assure a successful coaching session:
DO ask the employee to walk you through the plan and his or her results. Let the person “lead” the session.
DON’T dominate the coaching session. Pull responses from the employee.
DO describe specific behavior. Be clear and concrete. Keep the conversation focused on specifics not generalities, feelings or attitudes.
DON’T criticize the person. Stay focused on results, actions, and behaviors. Choose words carefully especially if you are angry. You do NOT know what is going on inside the other person.
DO compare results to the plan. Always keep the discussion on the plan, results, analysis, and action.
DON’T send conflicting messages. Beware of the word “but,” which can negate the message. Don’t sugar coat the feedback. Don’t imply they can do “more” or “better” without a plan.
DO provide pluses and minuses. Discuss what worked and what didn’t specifically, in terms of the plan and its measurement scheme. Do praise what worked…all of it.
DON’T use aggressive communication. Don’t put the other person in a reactive state. Watch your non-verbal communication.
DO point out the consequences. Always draw out the consequences of actions and results.
DON’T place blame. If you create a climate of fear and blame, you stifle learning and development.
DO ask for suggestions. Emphasize the person should try to solve problems and take responsibility for improvement.
DON’T tell person how to do the work. Encourage the person to develop the plan for action (the how) and then coach.
DO ask for lessons learned, both positive and negative.
DON’T dwell on the negative.
DO ask for a new or modified plan after all feedback sessions.
DON’T bring up the past. Deal with the present and the future. You can’t change the past.
DO express confidence. Always express confidence that the person will be successful. Encourage a proactive approach.
DON’T forget to ask for improvement. Whether the results are on track or not, always focus on an improvement plan.
DO provide feedback immediately. Let people know as quickly as possible whether they are on or off track.
DON’T wait for annual evaluation to deliver bad (or good) news. Annual reviews should hold NO SURPRISES. Correct course immediately.
Good coaching takes time – time to delegate, time to prepare, time to deliver…and time to develop an effective coaching style. As a manager it is one of your most important investments in your success. The results are greater employee engagement, growth, and performance leading you to achieve your objectives.