How to Coach Employees for Improved Performance
Coaching employees involves a structured approach that focuses on developing their skills and abilities, addressing performance issues, and setting goals for improvement. If done right, coaching brings significant ROI to your business. According to a frequently cited stat, 63% of companies that provided employee coaching reported higher revenue than their competitors.
Here are 11 strategies on how to coach employees effectively (jump to the ones you are interested in or continue reading to explore them all):
- Set clear expectations
- Develop personalized performance plans
- Identify performance gaps
- Provide regular feedback
- Recognize and reward high performance
- Continuously evaluate and adjust
- Identify training and development opportunities
- Provide one-on-one mentoring
- Encourage employee self-reflection
- Provide resources and tools
- Foster open communication
1. Set Clear Expectations
Setting clear expectations includes defining goals, objectives, and performance standards your employees should meet. When expectations are clear, employees know what they need to achieve and how their performance will be evaluated. It helps them focus their efforts and make progress toward their goals.
Additionally, clear expectations provide a basis for feedback and coaching discussions, as well as ongoing performance management and evaluation. It’s easier to evaluate performance against clearly defined goals and objectives that are realistic, achievable, and aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the organization.
2. Develop Personalized Performance Plans
Work with your employees to create individualized performance plans tailored to their strengths and weaknesses. Elements you need to include are:
- Goals: The plan should outline the employee’s short- and long-term goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (see some SMART goals examples).
- Strengths: The plan should identify the employee’s strengths and how they can leverage them to achieve their goals.
- Areas for improvement: The plan should also identify where the employee needs to improve and the steps they can take to address these areas. This might include training and development activities.
- Action steps: The plan should outline the specific actions the employee needs to take to achieve their goals, including deadlines and milestones.
- Resources: The plan should identify the resources the employee needs to achieve their goals, such as training materials, coaching support, or other resources.
- Evaluation and feedback: The plan should outline how the employee’s progress will be evaluated and how feedback will be provided. This might include regular check-ins with a manager or supervisor, self-evaluation, or feedback from colleagues or customers.
By creating an individualized performance plan, employees can focus on the areas where they need to improve while maximizing their strengths to achieve their goals. This approach can also help build confidence and motivation, as employees can see progress toward their goals and recognize their abilities and potential.
Pro Tip: Include the employee in developing their performance plan to help build their ownership and commitment. The plan should also be reviewed regularly, and adjustments made as necessary based on progress toward goals and changes in the employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
3. Identify Performance Gaps
It is essential to identify the areas where the employee is not meeting expectations. It may include areas where the employee needs more skills, knowledge, or experience or where there are simply performance gaps that need to be addressed.
To identify these areas, you may need to review the employee’s performance data, such as customer feedback, productivity metrics, or quality control measures. You can also gather input from the employee’s colleagues or other stakeholders, such as team members or customers.
One beneficial tool you can use for this purpose is the 9-box grid. This 3×3 matrix plots employees based on their current performance and potential for future growth or advancement within the organization.
After identifying areas of improvement, develop a plan to address these issues. It may include providing additional training or coaching, assigning specific tasks or projects to help the employee develop new skills, or seeking other resources or support.
4. Provide Regular Feedback
Providing effective employee feedback is integral to the coaching process. Thus, it would be best to be specific about the behaviors or actions you are addressing. Use concrete examples and avoid generalizations.
Additionally, focus on specific behaviors or actions, not on the person as a whole. Avoid personal attacks or criticisms. Instead, deliver them in a supportive and non-threatening manner. Lastly, provide specific suggestions for how the employee can improve their performance.
5. Recognize & Reward High Performance
Coaches acknowledging and celebrating their employees’ successes and accomplishments can motivate and inspire them to continue to work hard and strive for excellence. According to Quantum Workplace, when employees are recognized for their performance, they are 2.7X more likely to be engaged.
Here are some employee recognition ideas you can use for your on-site and remote employees.
Rewards can include bonuses, promotions, extra vacation time, or other perks recognizing the employee’s hard work and achievements.
Encourage colleagues to recognize each other’s accomplishments and successes through peer-to-peer recognition programs. It can help build a positive work culture and foster a sense of teamwork and collaboration.
Organize regular meetings to discuss employee performance, identify areas of improvement, and set new goals. These meetings can also be an opportunity to acknowledge an employee’s successes and accomplishments.
Offer opportunities for employees to grow and develop professionally, such as through training programs, workshops, or seminars. It can help employees feel valued and motivated to continue improving their skills and knowledge.
Recognize an employee’s achievements publicly, such as through company-wide announcements or newsletters. It can help build morale and motivate other employees to strive for similar success.
Recognition doesn’t always have to be serious. The more creative and fun you can make it, the more likely it is to be memorable and effective.
6. Continuously Evaluate & Adjust
Employee development needs to change over time. Employees’ needs and goals can shift as they develop new skills and gain experience. For the coaching process to be effective, there should be communication and collaboration between the coach and employee. Continuous evaluation and adjustment can ensure that coaching efforts remain relevant and aligned with the employee’s changing needs and goals.
7. Identify Training & Development Opportunities
Identifying training and development opportunities for employees is an essential component of how to coach employees for high performance. Not only does it help them acquire new skills and knowledge, but it also increases employee engagement and motivation. According to Gallup’s American Upskilling Study, 57% of US workers are extremely interested in upskilling, while 59% stated that upskilling is essential in their career advancement
When identifying employee training and development opportunities, it’s essential to consider individual needs and goals. To do that, you may conduct a skills assessment, solicit employee and manager feedback, or explore different training options, such as online courses, conferences, or workshops.
Personnel training software is a beneficial tool in planning, scheduling, and delivering training content, as well as tracking and reporting on employee progress and performance. See our recommended providers.
8. Provide One-on-One Mentoring
One-on-one mentoring is a vital force that can drive employees to perform well. By having a one-on-one with your employees, you are providing them with personalized support and guidance tailored to their individual needs and goals. It can lead to improved performance and increased confidence.
Here at TechnologyAdvice, one of our employee management strategies is regular check-ins. Supervisors or managers schedule 1:1 meetings (biweekly or monthly, depending on the need) with each employee under them. During these sessions, supervisors discuss progress, identify challenges, and provide feedback to each employee. This exercise develops open communication between managers and employees and becomes a channel where employees can self-reflect on their performance (which we will discuss next).
9. Encourage Employee Self-reflection
Employee self-reflection is when an individual employee takes time to review their performance and behavior in the workplace. This process helps them identify areas for improvement, recognize their achievements, and set goals for the future.
During an employee self-reflection, the individual typically engages in a series of activities, which may include:
- Reviewing their job description
- Identifying their strengths and weaknesses
- Evaluating their accomplishments
- Setting goals
- Seeking feedback
10. Provide Resources & Tools
Providing employees with the necessary resources and tools is essential for effective employee management. When employees have access to the right resources and tools, they can perform their job duties efficiently and effectively, leading to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and overall organizational success.
Some of the critical resources and tools that employees may need to do their jobs efficiently include:
- Technology: This includes computers, software programs, and other digital tools necessary to perform job duties.
- Training and development: Employees may need training to develop new skills or learn to use new tools and technologies.
- Data and information: Employees need access to relevant information—such as companywide goals and customer insights—to perform their job duties effectively.
- Communication tools: Effective communication is essential for collaboration and teamwork, so employees need access to tools like email, messaging apps, and video conferencing software.
- Physical resources: Depending on the nature of their job, employees may need access to material resources like equipment, tools, and office space
11. Foster Open Communication
Fostering open communication in the workplace is essential for building strong employee relationships, enhancing collaboration and teamwork, and creating a positive work environment.
Here are some ways to foster open communication in the workplace through coaching:
- Encourage feedback: Encourage employees to share their thoughts, ideas, and feedback regularly. Use regular surveys, suggestion boxes, or open-door policies to get feedback.
- Actively listen: Encourage managers and leaders to listen actively to their employees’ concerns and suggestions, demonstrating their opinions are valued and considered.
- Establish clear communication channels: Establish clear communication channels, such as regular team meetings, email updates, or chat platforms, to ensure that employees are informed and have access to important information.
- Lead by example: Leaders should lead by example and model open communication by being transparent and honest in their communication.
- Provide communication training: Provide communication training for employees and managers to enhance their skills and teach them how to express their thoughts and ideas more effectively.
- Address conflicts directly: Address disputes and disagreements promptly, encouraging employees to resolve issues in a constructive and respectful manner.
Employee coaching effectively improves performance, engagement, and retention within the organization. Organizations can create a positive and productive work environment that supports employee growth and development by providing employees with the support and guidance they need to succeed.