High Performance Coaching

January 23, 2023

Deborah Kumar

The Payoff for You and Your Team

Passionate and diligent coaching leverages your expertise and time by increasing a team’s productivity, customer service and creativity. By coaching your employees, both lower and higher performers, you are providing them with an example that they can carry far into their future. You gain more successful employees and a better performing team.

Successful leaders give most of their time to higher performers who are already motivated. Why? This strategy delivers a more substantial return on investment. A high performer who improves by 10 percent contributes far more value to the organization than a mediocre performer who improves by 20 percent. You coach your employees in the skills required to move the team forward.

Coaching involves a deliberate methodology to build rapport, ask questions, give advice, provide support, follow-through on previous conversations, develop confidence, and improve results. Coaching is not micro-managing and limiting. If it is done right, it’s empowering and liberating.

High Performers: These employees consistently exceed expectations. Your role is to celebrate them and give them opportunities for success. Highlight their performance. Make sure they have the tools to do their jobs. Have them be mentors to middle or low performers.

Middle Performers: These team members have some of the qualities of High Performer performance but have inconsistent follow through. There is some systemic or individual area of performance that they struggle with that creates their inability to achieve optimal performance. Encourage them, point out areas of improvement, pair them with a High Performer mentor, develop short term solution plans and review their performance with them to define and resolve barriers to optimal consistent performance.

Low Performers: Fortune Magazine has said failure to effectively manage low performers is the #1 reason why leaders fail and lose their jobs and 87% of employees say working with a low performer has decreased their productivity, hampered their development, and made them want to change jobs.
No matter how many resources and amount of coaching you provide for your low performing team members, they may not be interested in meeting your performance expectations. They have frequently been placed on plans of correction and are continually not meeting expectations. Their attitude and negativity impacts the entire team. These are the team members that would be better coached out of the organization as they are not a good fit for the new expectations.

Coach up your middle performers. They want to do well; they need goals and assistance with time management, understanding how daily performance, aptitude and attitude are keys to success. Reward your top performers and coach out your low performers who are not willing to improve.

The High Performance Coaching Model

One-on-one formal coaching sessions requires an investment in time (Usually 30-60 minutes a session). I recommend at least monthly in most cases. The sessions are valuable for these reasons:

  • Promotes effective communication and trust.
  • Creates an employee-manager relationship.
  • Creates an atmosphere of continuous improvement.
  • Helps employees reach and exceed their goals.
  • Aids daily performance management.

Here are eight formal coaching steps that the best managers do, and the worst managers don’t do or don’t do very well.

Step 1 – Pre-meeting preparation (action plans, numbers, goals)

Step 2 – Greeting (be positive, do some small talk, ensure privacy.)

Step 3 – Ask an employee to reconfirm his or her goals and to share results and progress agreed upon plans. Praise progress, recognize good performance, and identify areas to improve. Ask these types of questions:

  • How is it going since we met last time?
  • What progress did you make on your goals and action plans?
  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What areas do you need help?

Step 4 – Ask the employee to tell you how and why they made their decisions.

Step 5 – Seek solutions and build a new plan on how to improve the results. Ask questions like these:

What other ideas do you have for improvement next time?

  • What do you think of this idea…?
  • Did you try…?
  • Are you open to some suggestions?
  • Have you thought about trying…?
  • This is what I recommend…

Step 6 – Keep plans and commitments. Make sure to review all key action steps from the last meeting. Set new goals and action steps if necessary.

Step 7 – Summarize your discussion and an updated action plan in writing.

Step 8 – Schedule another meeting and show your appreciation for the employee’s efforts. Ensure that you follow-through.

Notice you ask a lot of questions. You need to be a good listener; and you strategically give feedback and guidance. Coaching is not a place for yelling or telling. Over the course of time, the coaching process teaches employees problem-solving skills which they can execute more effectively on their own. They become more innovative and learn to take initiative to go the extra mile. Excellent coaching saves you time.

One on one coaching is specifically about effective communication and performance. You talk about goals, expectations, problems, and solutions to those problems. You give employees positive feedback about their efforts while identifying performance issues clearly and directly. You develop employee skills and attitude about getting the job done well and achieving the best results. You train employees to think proactively when faced with challenges, and obstacles. All these actions help create robust employee engagement.