Performance Coaching — How to Execute it on Your Team Successfully

BY Kathy Crosett
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Businesses are experiencing lower employee turnover in 2023. But that doesn’t mean managers should relax their efforts to retain employees. Performance coaching is a hot trend that leads to skill improvement. Do you know what it’s all about and how to offer coaching for performance to your team members?

The Need for Performance Coaching

In our post-​pandemic economy, employees are evaluating what matters. Gartner analysts have found that employees want the opportunity for personal and professional growth. They want to participate in work in a meaningful way.

However, some of your team members may not have the skills to do what they want. This issue means managers must do more than process time-​off requests, make assignments and ensure that projects get completed on time. 

To make an impact, managers must develop team member skills, including coaching for performance. But if they do so in a traditional authoritarian way, they risk demotivating team members or stirring up toxic behavior.

Deloitte analysts point out, “Whereas managing focuses on setting clear expectations, aligning on processes, and driving toward business outcomes, coaching is more focused on professional development, personal growth, attaining or improving a skill, and recognizing contributions.”

Coaching Employees to Improve Performance

Because each employee brings a unique skill set and work history to an organization, a successful high-​performance coaching program should be personalized to their needs. The best place to begin is with a psychometric assessment that will reveal what motivates an employee and how to communicate with them. With that information, you can begin coaching employees to improve performance.

As you venture into performance coaching, you’ll need to set specific and measurable goals. Your employees may agree they’d like to close more sales. You need to give them a roadmap on what they need to do to reach that goal. Otherwise, you’ll both have a difficult time deciding what to do first and measuring progress.

Coaching employees to improve performance should start with breaking down the large goal into specific steps. In a sales job, the first step means making a specific number of outreaches in a defined time period: For example, 50 calls or emails in the next week. Supervisors should ask their employees to track those outreaches in a worksheet they can both access. 

The next step in a high-​performance coaching process might require the sales rep to set up meetings or calls with qualified prospects by a specified end date.

The Manager’s Responsibilities

So far, the coaching process sounds like the action is all on the sales rep. Not so! In sales, your employee may falter during a video call or presentation with a prospect. Take the time to record and review these interactions. If the prospect asked a challenging question, what should your rep say the next time?

It may be helpful for you to explain how you handled a similar situation in the past. Depending on the employee, it will likely be more impactful if you help them learn to interact with prospects in a way that feels most natural to them. 

During your coaching for performance sessions, you may need to engage in a few staged calls with you acting as the prospect to help your employee feel comfortable about these interactions. At times, employees may resist your expert performance coaching suggestions. To help them adjust their mindset, it may be more productive to ask them what they think went wrong and what they plan to do differently in their next call.

There is no company-​wide or team-​wide solution in a successful performance coaching program. That’s because each employee has unique attributes of personality and work experience. Ultimately, success results from the ongoing interaction between your employee and their performance coach. When employees feel valued and see that their supervisor or coach is determined to help them improve, their skills, confidence and outcomes will show results.

Photo on Pexels by Andrea Piacquadio.