If it ain't broke...
We’ve all heard or read the popular adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” When it comes to employee coaching, however, such guidance is misplaced. Business leaders should coach employees on a regular basis to ensure ongoing, solid work performance.
Coaching is a commonly used term, but it’s important to understand exactly what it means in the workplace. It comprises casual, day-to-day guidance, and constant feedback and direction from supervisors to the employees they manage. Coaching also involves collaborative goal-setting, discussion sessions, consistent training and employee recognition.
Managers can overlook coaching because they equate it with counseling. But, the two are vastly different. Counseling involves focused guidance to correct problem performance. Supervisors who equate the terms often assume if there is no performance issue, then there is no need for frequent, interactive feedback beyond performance reviews.
Annual reviews are insufficient. Meeting once annually to assess objectives is not helpful or productive for ambitious employees who want to learn and grow with the company. Managers must make it a practice to meet with employees regularly to create a performance plan, review it periodically, and adjust it as appropriate. Furthermore, a good leader will provide insight into the ways in which employees can attain performance objectives, or even exceed expectations.
In many cases, training is the key to attaining objectives. It is a supervisor’s responsibility to determine with employees what kind of training is relevant. Through honing job skills and developing new ones, employees improve their performance and accelerate their career growth.
Coaching also contributes to morale building by sending a message that the company and supervisor care about an employee’s future. This is especially important during times of uncertainty, when businesses may be unable to provide tangible incentives and rewards such as pay raises and bonuses.
Positive feedback and recognition are additional components of morale building. Effective managers do not just resolve problems; they also praise employees when praise is merited. Even a simple thank you can make an employee feel appreciated and valued.
If supervisors have to cope with problem employees who require counseling, it is easy to overlook the needs of top performers whom coaching can benefit. Even the best employees need regular feedback. Without it they may become complacent, unmotivated or face stalled career growth.
Coaching is not something extra for supervisors to do if and when they have the luxury of time; it should be a day-to-day responsibility. By prioritizing coaching, managers can support improvement in employee performance – even if that performance is already at a high level – and, in doing so, raise employee morale that contributes to the success of the business.
This article was co-written by Eric Bonugli and Kay Oder
Eric Bonugli is a district manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 27 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit http://www.insperity.com