Effective Performance Coaching
Effective Performance Coaching

Effective Performance Coaching

It’s tough to conduct a formal performance review with an employee who isn’t doing their job well—the conversation can get awkward and frustrating for both sides, especially if termination is becoming a more plausible option. However, if it’s gotten to that point, it’s likely there were some steps which could have been taken to prevent it.

Those preventative measures come in the form of using performance coaching on a regular basis. Coaching is about using a consistent management style to compliment performance reviews or discipline, setting up an ongoing process of employee improvement.

Fostering that continual improvement through performance coaching allows formal reviews to be more about aligning an employee’s goals with the company’s strategy and planning for the future. Aimee Pedretti, HR Consultant at Paycor, gave ideas about the benefits of using performance coaching.

Encouraging positive changes

You want to help employees take an active role in their own development and encourage them to search for solutions independently. Coaches are always looking to motivate people to get better.

Building a coaching environment in a workplace means the HR manager has to represent more than a disciplinarian to employees. He or she should become a facilitator in the office. This comes from informally touching base with employees consistently, taking the time to listen to everyone, acknowledge work well done, and start conversations as opposed to distributing memos.

It begins with you. Avoid jumping to conclusions about your employees. Instead, empower them to make decisions and instill confidence in their development.

How to coach

In the end, you want your employees to feel like they can solve problems on their own. With all workers, especially entry-level or less experienced ones, it takes some work to dispel the notion that they lack the ability or authority to develop solutions.

To coach people up, it takes asking the right questions and a lot of listening:

• Set up regular occasions to speak informally with employees and set a relaxed tone for them.
• Avoid questions that start with why and favor ones which are more open-ended (for example “how do you think this project is going?” or “what’s the next step in the process?”)
• Be a facilitator—avoid interjecting with how you would have done something differently. You’re not trying to clone yourself in these employees. You’re trying to help them grow into themselves.
• Try to stay away from dwelling on obstacles when talking with someone about their progress. Focus more on goals or, with long-term projects, milestones in their progress.

Performance coaching is less top-down than traditional HR methods. By helping employees talk through solutions in your informal sessions, they form a sense of ownership in their development.

Coaching vs. progressive discipline

That’s not to say there isn’t a continued need to use discipline. Most workplaces still use some form of progressive discipline, where penalties get harsher with each occurrence:

• Verbal counseling
• Written warning
• More serious consequences
• Termination

Though that model is perfectly logical, it can be harmful if it’s the go-to method for correcting employee mistakes. Progressive discipline is more focused on employer compliance than nurturing employees. It can lack flexibility and primarily use fear as a motivator, making HR policy feel like the Sword of Damocles over employees’ heads. That’s a serious morale killer in a workplace.

Coaching can reveal the root cause of performance issues, which may be subtle (unintended breakdowns of communication) or more complex than a single employee’s output. Honest communication is more helpful.

However, progressive discipline has an important role in an office. Such a policy needs to be in place in case of malfeasance, absenteeism, or other problems more serious than someone missing a few deadlines or making mistakes.

The important role of formal reviews

You still need annual or semi-annual evaluations, depending on how quickly projects change or are turned over. The key is that they shouldn’t always be tied to conversations about compensation, raises, bonuses, or advancement.

These formal meetings between HR and an employee should be a time to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals and review the ones set previously, while making sure their goals and the company strategy are in alignment.

Set up a consistent cycle in your HR management style with four elements:

• Performance planning
• Ongoing coaching
• Performance assessment
• Formal evaluation

Keep in mind, you can’t sugarcoat an employee’s need to improve if they’re making mistakes or underperforming. Your performance coaching should help eliminate the dread someone feels when approaching one of those meetings and if you’ve been consistent with it, not much of the managerial review should be a surprise to employees.

By replacing the fear of discipline with encouragement, you will see improvements in your culture, performance, employee morale, and retention.

This content came from a March 10 Paycor webinar. Missed Paycor’s Web Summit or want to hear this webinar as it happened live? Click over to our webinar recordings page.

Paycor’s HR and payroll technology also can help you manage your team’s talent. With solutions ranging from affordable, online resources such as HR Support Center to Perform HR, we have the tools you need to keep up with changing trends. Learn more about what we can do for your business.


Subscribe to Our Resource Center Digest

Enter your email below to receive a weekly recap of the latest articles from Paycor's Resource Center.

Check your inbox for an email confirming your subscription. Enjoy!

More to Discover

Emergency Sick Leave for Childcare: What Employers Need to Know About FFCRA

Emergency Sick Leave for Childcare: What Employers Need to Know About FFCRA

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a big part of the government response to the current public health crisis, offering emergency sick leave and paid family medical leave to those affected by Coronavirus. Take a look at our guide on managing employee leave scenarios.The FFRCA doesn’t just apply to employees who are directly affected by the virus—those who are infected, caring for the infected or quarantined. It also puts in place measures for the parents or guardians of children whose schools or day care facilities are closed due to the pandemic.These measures will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. How Does the FFCRA Work for Parents? If an employee has been on payroll for at least 30 days and cannot...

Essential Business Letter (Template)

Essential Business Letter (Template)

Many states and cities are imposing complete or partial lockdowns, with most businesses forced to temporarily shut their doors or move to remote work and only “essential businesses” unaffected. This has left many employers and employees asking what exactly counts as an essential business.Download Essential Business Letter Template What Counts as an Essential Business? On March 19, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA, overseen by the Department of Homeland Security) issued guidance on what business count as critical infrastructure. Some businesses are obviously essential—hospitals, pharmacies and law enforcement. The list is extensive—other essential businesses include stores selling supplies which allow people to...

Webinar: COVID-19 Summit - LIVE DEMO: See Paycor's COVID-19 Command Center - 4/23/20 @2pm ET

Webinar: COVID-19 Summit - LIVE DEMO: See Paycor's COVID-19 Command Center - 4/23/20 @2pm ET

Join Paycor’s Senior Product Manager, Kelly Silverman, for a live demonstration on how Paycor is providing HR leaders with the technology and expertise to help them prepare, respond and recover. The demonstration will highlight how Paycor Analytics and HR Support Center can offer the data and resources HR leaders need to mitigate risk and reshape business strategy.Speaker: Kelly Silverman Kelly Silverman is Paycor's resident benefits and HR marketing leader. An HCM industry veteran with a strong product and marketing background, Kelly’s responsibilities include driving the go-to-market strategy for benefits and analytics to Paycor’s customer base.Thursday, April 23, 2020 2pm ET

Webinar: COVID-19 Summit - How to Develop a Business Continuity Plan - 4/23/20 @1pm ET

Webinar: COVID-19 Summit - How to Develop a Business Continuity Plan - 4/23/20 @1pm ET

We’re all doing our best right now during these unpredictable times to protect our families, communities, employees and businesses. As many organizations have scrambled to launch business continuity plans to respond to the current crisis, there are things we’ve learned that will help us prepare for the future. Join Paycor’s Adam Leisring for insights into creating business continuity plans and key takeaways that can be applied from this pandemic.Speaker: Adam Leisring Adam Leisring is Paycor’s Senior Director of Information Security and is accountable for security aspects in Paycor’s Corporate IT and SaaS offerings. Having spent over 11 years with the organization and with a background in Information Security, Enterprise Architecture,...