Coaching For Results

There are a number of reasons leaders coach their employees – or should do so. All of them relate to getting results. But what results are they after?

A primary reason to coach employees is to improve performance. Ideally, managers or supervisors will monitor performance throughout a project and find “coachable moments.” It is more beneficial to all if leaders stay engaged with employees rather than waiting until the end of a project to expound on what worked or didn’t work.

Communication-man & woman discussingCoaching throughout the project also builds confidence in the employees while guiding the project around or through pitfalls. Instead of being surprised when the project doesn’t meet expectations or come in on time, managers or supervisors can provide guidance toward a successful outcome.

Monitoring performance is not the same as evaluating performance. It is not constant hand-holding. It is an opportunity to observe the way employees manage the project, handle tasks, solve problems and communicate successes and failures. It also allows leaders to acknowledge, correct or redirect efforts.

There are a few questions to aid in the coaching process:

Determine Status:

1. What percentage of the task or project is completed?
2. How does that percentage compare to the completion plan?
3. Where is the task relative to the established milestones?
4. What aspects of the project are completed?
5. What surprises related to completing the task surfaced after the task was delegated?
6. How did you handle the situation?
7. What was your resolution to the issue?

Understanding Performance Concerns:

8. What new challenges are you facing?
9. What challenges are more difficult than you anticipated?
10. What concerns do you have about not being successful in completing the task or project?
11. What is preventing you from being successful?
12. How does it feel not to be as successful as you could be?
13. What can you do to contribute to your success?
14. What is a reasonable time frame for us to monitor progress?
15. What support do you need to be successful?

Acknowledge Effective Performance:

16. How does it feel to have successfully completed the task or project?
17. What advice would you give to someone else assigned the task?
18. What do you consider to be the most important aspects of your performance?
19. How could I support you effectively on the next project?
20. What challenge would you like to have in the future to further develop your skills?

When asking questions, use the open question format: how or what. Notice that all of the questions listed here are open questions. They cannot be answered with “yes” or “no.” In this way, managers or supervisors are encouraging dialogue with their employees. It is a step toward building trust, respect and rapport. By engaging employees in constructive conversation regarding their performance, the leader sends a message that people are valued.

Coaching allows you to monitor progress and results without micro-managing. It is a developmental activity. Instead of giving feedback only at performance review time, managers and supervisors can give feedback at times when it is most needed. Coaching reinforces effective performance and allows for correction of ineffective performance. While coaching takes time, it is a worthwhile investment to ensure more effective results and employee success.