Have you just hired a new employee? In today’s labor market, that’s cause for celebration. To ensure your new hire does their best work and feels valued, roll out an onboarding experience that includes an effective coaching program. Follow these 10 best employee coaching steps to improve employee performance.
Effective coaching programs should be designed at the corporate level before they are rolled out to managers and individual employees. Two broad aspects of these programs include agreeing on goals and on where the focus will be.
Many organizations develop employee coaching programs with the goal of improved engagement and performance in mind. Corporate leaders hope that investing in coaching programs will guide employees to be ready to assume more responsibility in an organization. Before you ask your managers to coach their team members, define what you hope to achieve and put metrics in place.
Kevin Davis, Topline Leadership, explains that most coaching programs focus on performance management. That’s when a manager says to an employee, “Show me what you’ve done.” Instead, they should redirect their energy to developmental coaching. Managers who take this approach will focus on building their employees’ skills. And then there’s mindset coaching which may be the most effective way to coach. In this style of coaching, managers review the results of psychometric assessments, talk with reps about their challenges and discuss ways to improve the mindset issues that are holding them back.
Plans for Coaching Employees to Improve Performance
After you develop the goals and focus of your corporate coaching initiative, it’s time to consider the abilities, needs and wants of the employees who will go through the program. The coaching steps in this section will help you personalize a plan for each employee.
3. Verify Skill Level
We are not saying that your new employee has a performance problem. However, every team member can benefit from personalized coaching and support. Before you develop a coaching plan, verify the skill level of your new hire. A sales professional with a decade of experience won’t need the same level of coaching as a new rep who has just started in the field.
Regardless of experience, the members of your team will possess some sales skills naturally. Improving other sales skills will require coaching. For example, your new rep may enjoy engaging with prospects and discovering their business needs. But when it comes to negotiating, they may be too willing to give in easily.
4. Needs Assessment
The psychometric assessments your new employees take will reveal more than their strengths and weaknesses in the job skills. You’ll also understand their soft skills and what motivates them. These details play a key role in the coaching plan you design for them. You won’t need to spend time helping an employee understand empathy if they possess that quality in abundance.
You’ll need to determine an employee’s coachability before you develop a personalized coaching plan. If you had your employees take psychometric assessments, the results will reveal how open they are to feedback and coaching. You may have reviewed this factor during the hiring process, especially if your new employee has no specific experience in the sales profession.
Don’t despair if your new hire has low assessment scores in the area of accepting feedback. You may be able to guide them by using a coaching style that requires them to participate in defining how the process will work, what they’ll work on and how their progress will be measured.
6. Adaptive Learning
The content you deliver to a sales rep will be different than what a customer service agent needs. Your content strategy should also incorporate formats optimized for various adaptive learning styles in addition to roles. Some employees learn better when they watch videos. Others retain knowledge when they’ve read material and answered questions online.
It can be overwhelming to sit through intensive coaching sessions that cover too much material. Your team member will only remember a few details from a coaching program that keeps them locked in a room for hours while managers cover data points ranging from how to conduct discovery to the way they prefer to close deals. As C. Lee Smith, CEO of SalesFuel, advises, the best microlearning sessions focus on one main point and take no more than two to six minutes.
Managers and the Coaching Commitment
No coaching program will succeed without the involvement and commitment of your managers. Here are three steps for a successful employee coaching program that incorporates the role of the manager.
One effective coaching step has little to do with employees. It’s all about managers. Coaching of any kind takes plenty of time. Yet most managers have little time to spare. You can ease the burden by accessing automated platforms that can deliver material customized to a rep’s needs. Managers can cover the rep’s progress on improving their skills and mindset in their regular one-on-one meetings. Another stumbling block at many organizations is that managers often lack the skill to effectively coach their team members. They may need some training. And they’ll need reassurance that the company’s leaders are committed to a culture of coaching.
After a team member has worked hard to change an entrenched habit, such as learning to listen more than talking during the discovery stage of interacting with a new prospect, they’ll have some early successes. And while they’re excited about these successes, they may revert back to their old work patterns. During discovery with the next prospect, they may begin to rush through the meeting.
Managers can reinforce the idea of changed behavior by following up. This step is a key part of the coaching process. Managers may need to remind reps regularly about staying on track with their new behavior.
No amount of coaching will work without your reassurances. David Brock talks about the importance of manager support. He praises, “…managers who believed in me more than I believed in myself. They had the patience and commitment to coach me, to help me learn, to help me grow… For managers, there is no higher calling than believing in your people and helping them achieve their full potential.”
Implementing and maintaining an effective coaching plan won’t be easy. A commitment to developing your employees’ skills, with the goal of grooming them for taking on more responsibility will pay off with higher engagement and achievement levels. The 10 coaching steps covered in this post can serve as a great way to implement a new program for your organization. Are you ready to begin?
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