Taking Initiative – Coaching Workers to Better Performance

Improving employee performance through coaching is becoming the golden standard in the realm of business. Considered an effective business practice, coaching in workplace settings is a process for both the employer and the employee. The goal is to motivate rather than denigrate and inspire employees to set professional goals and develop the skills needed to achieve them. In contrast to more traditional supervisory approaches, the role of the employer or coach is not to direct or to criticize but rather to help employees become more self-aware and inspire them to take responsibility for their own development.

The principles of performance coaching include:

  • Workers respond better to positive reinforcement and support than to critique, punishment, or control
  • A good coach is able to help workers identify goals, obstacles (weaknesses), and solutions as opposed to handing out directives
  • Coaching is a collaborative approach
  • Coaching is an interactive process involving observation and reflection
  • Coaching is a process which occurs over time with the goal of employees acting independently and thoughtfully

How does performance coaching in the workplace settings work? First, coaching takes place
during one-on-one sessions between employers/supervisors and employees. The format can include informal discussions about work progress, goal setting, problem solving, coaching incentives/inspiration, formal performance reviews, and feedback. More specifically, during coaching sessions the coaching relationship is first defined and desired outcomes clarified. Next, in a collaborative process, employers and employees identify strategies for improvement and how progress will be measured. Through self-observation on the part of the worker and first-hand observation on the part of the coach, data is then gathered about employee performance. The next phase involves recognizing strengths and weaknesses through observation and reflection and setting goals for improvement. Finally, performance coaching includes evaluation of progress made, including both developmental and evaluative feedback.

Throughout the entire process, the coach may use techniques such as motivational coaching, Socratic questioning, modeling, guided practice, demonstration, analysis of the coaching relationship, encouragement, positive feedback, comparison of stated goals versus actual results – all with the overall goal of coaching employees to better performance. And through the process, the employer refines their coaching skills as well.

To be an effective coach, it would be helpful for employers to hone this skill set:

  • Balanced
  • Objective
  • Encouraging/Supportive
  • Active Listener
  • Ability to summarize, clarify, and reflect
  • Ability to ask thought-provoking, open-ended, non-threatening questions
  • Ability to help clarify goals and identify actions necessary to achieve these goals
  • Ability to create a feasible and clear plan for change
  • Able to identify strengths and give praise
  • Ability to provide positive, constructive feedback

Whether the goal is to increase productivity and effectiveness, improve business management skills, or enhance people/relationship skills, one thing is for certain: Coaching employees to better performance is a strategy that works, creating a win-win situation for employers, employees, and businesses.

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Author Byline

Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that helps avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.