Take the Coach Approach to Employee Performance

I receive calls on a regular bases from organizations stating they are experiencing some difficulties managing their staff in areas they expect their staff to be competent. It begs the question, so who should provide the coaching for change? And why do we spend so much time and energy focusing on the negative performers, while the superstars and average performers are ignored? In this article I would like to focus on how to coach the superstars and the constant achievers, not the poor performers!!

“To coach” comes from the root meaning “to bring a person from where they are to where they are to where they want to be.”

Coaching begins with creating an environment where employees want to be part of the winning team. As the manager you have the power to make this happen! But how?

One of the means to generating a winning, optimistic environment is to spend time with your team. Commence your day by walking around the office, asking questions of interest to them, and generally just visiting with your workforce. It is an excellent practice and although it sometimes requires an immense undertaking of your time and energy, pay backs are large. Some managers believe that coaching is exclusively about addressing negative performance. Although this is an important part, coaching is much more than that. It means keeping in continuous touch with your team and providing them with the information they need to be more successful in their work performance. Successful organizations have their managers take every opportunity to coach by encouraging constructive behaviours, paying attention to new ideas, encouraging risk taking, offering suggestions, giving approval and appreciation.

Coaching starts with creating an environment where people want to be part of a winning group. As part of the management team you have the ability to make this happen

Most teams are comprised of three different performance groups.

One of the groups is that of outstanding performers, the superstars. This group according to research is approximately 10% of the average team. About fifty percent of your team is probably unpredictable performers. One day they may be superstars and sometimes not.

Members of your team may not have the incentive or the aspiration to become superstars. These are the standard stars. The remaining group are the declining stars. This group is normally somewhat small, but this group has a considerable impact on the performance of the team in general. These under performers fail to contribute their share of the workload to the team.

So how do you coach the superstars? They have earned their way into this category through their consistent outstanding performance. Often they are overlooked, ignored, unnoticed and not always rewarded for their accomplishments. In the Manager’s Coaching Handbook, by David Cottrell and Mark Layton they suggest the following tips on how to coach the super stars:
• Get them involved in decisions, using their skills and knowledge in problem solving, strategy setting and in hiring.
• Delegate extensively and avoid micro-managing them. They know what to do, allow them the freedom.
• Encourage them to teach. Those who teach will learn even more, which is a good deal for everybody.
• Provide training that will help them become even more effective.
• Have them fill in for you while you are out of the office, start grooming them.
• Stretch them. They thrive on accomplishments. Give them the opportunity to accomplish things that go far above their normal expectations. Just make sure that they do not view it as a punishment.
• Celebrate their successes.
• Frequently tell them how proud you are to have them on your team.
• Spend time with them. Listen to their ideas on how you can help improve the team performance.
• Promote them-if they want to be promoted! Do not force them into something they are not interested in.

The consistent performers are usually a combination of many diverse types. The consistent performers are the backbone of your team and frequently represent the highest percentage of your team. Improving the results from this group may mean the difference between your success and failure as a manager.

Cottrell and Layton, suggest that you may affect the consistent star’s performance in the following ways:
• Build their confidence by increasing their responsibilities. Start small and increase as they achieve success.
• Give frequent and accurate performance feedback. Be specific; explain carefully what you require for them.
• Create a resource library of books and tapes that provide your staff with ideas on how to become the best at their jobs.
• Teach them how to set goals to keep their performance on track, and hold them accountable for their goals.
• Catch them doing good things and then praise them.
• Hook them up with a superstar for mentoring.
• Create rewards that appeal to their personal values.

Remember that often it is the “small things” you do that will motivate the consistent performer to become a superstar.

So when you find yourself exhausted at the end of the day, you might find that you have spent all your energy with the under performers. So next time put your energy to the superstars and you both will reap the benefits.

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