Whether your job training program uses on-the-job training or group training, or both, the
most important component of your program is not the actual training, but what happens
after the training is completed. Through coaching your employees and setting the right
example, you can make their training stick.
So what is coaching? Coaching is a two-part process involving observation of employee
performance and conversation between the manager and employee that focuses on job
performance. The overall goals of the conversation are to evaluate work performance,
and then encourage optimum work performance by either reinforcing good performance
or confronting and redirecting poor performance. Coaching therefore provides employees
with regular feedback and support about their job performance, and lets managers know
exactly what their employees need to know.
If coaching employees is so beneficial, why do managers often avoid it? Following are
some possible reasons:
• Lack of time
• Fear of confronting an employee with a performance concern
• Assumption that the employee already knows he or she is doing a good job
• Little experience either doing or observing coaching
• Assumption that the employee will ask questions when appropriate and does not
The first step of coaching is to observe employees doing their jobs. If the employee is
doing the job well, don’t hesitate to tell the employee. Everyone likes to be told that they
are doing a good job, so praise employees as often as you can. Work on catching your
employees doing things right, and then use these steps:
1. Describe the specific action you are praising.
2. Explain the results or effects of the actions.
3. State your appreciation.
4. Ask the employees how they feel about doing a good job.
5 Say thank-you.
6. Write a letter of thanks and make sure a copy goes into the employee’s personnel
If there appears to be a problem with some aspect of the employee’s performance, answer
the following questions before talking with the employee:
1. What is the difference between the employee’s performance level and the
performance standard? Is it significant?
2. Is the performance standard realistic?
3. Does the employee know what is supposed to be done?
4. Does the employee understand why it is supposed to be done?
5. Does the employee know how it is supposed to be done?
6. Are there any hindrances to the employee’s performance that the employee can’t
control, such as inadequate equipment?
7. Has the employee received feedback on this before or has this problem been
The next step is to confront, not criticize, the employee’s poor performance. Confronting
is a positive process used to correct performance problems, gain the employee’s
commitment to improvement, and maintain a constructive supervisor-employee
relationship. Criticism, on the other hand, is a negative process that, instead of
concentrating on performance, blames the employee personally for not doing a job
properly. It tends to be general, rather than specific, in nature, and generates excuses,
blaming of others, and guilt on the employee’s part. Managers who confront employees
are more interested in helping them feel confident about improving future performance,
rather than making them feel inadequate and guilty about past performance.
When confronting an employee with what is perceived to be a performance problem,
follow these steps:
1. Speak in private with the employee without any interruptions or distractions.
2. Make the atmosphere as relaxed and friendly as possible.
3. Explain the reason for the meeting and express in a calm manner your concern
about the specific aspect of job performance you feel needs to be improved.
4. Describe the job performance concern in behavioral terms and explain its effect.
5. Also, explain that you have not made up your mind yet as to the cause of the
6. Ask the employee for his or her thoughts and opinions, using the seven questions
just listed as a starting point to get employee feedback.
If the employee is the cause of the performance problem, work on getting his or
her agreement that the problem exists. Next, ask the employee for some solutions
to the problem. Discuss together some possible solutions and mutually agree on a
course of action and time frame. Ask the employee to restate what has been
agreed upon to check on understanding. State your confidence in the employee’s
ability to turn the situation around.
Lastly, schedule a follow-up meeting to check on progress