5 Things to Look for in a Performance Coach

Performance coaching is a rather new management technique where a series of conversations are used to enhance employee well-being and performance. The premise of performance coaching is that employee development and productivity can be boosted by setting aside time to analyze how both leadership and employees can take their skills and performance to the next level. Through the technique, leaders are less focused on themselves, managers connect with issues workers experience and employees continually review progress that sustains their effectiveness. Performance coaching is a step beyond training in that it provides on-the-job training to employees while inspiring advancement.

If performance coaching sounds like something your organization could benefit from, below are traits to look for when appointing a performance coach.


Performance coaches should create an environment where employees feel respected and have a sense of self-worth. The performance coach, though a manager, will work alongside employees to direct work improvement and excellence. Instead of being trained and left to figure the task out through trial and error (or worse never receiving training), the employees are guided by the performance coach. This can either be done with consistent check-ins or by working in tandem.

In either scenario, the employees are receiving continuous feedback which ensures they are confident with their work and the product is on par. This boosts confidence and allows the employees to run through the task again in the future with the knowledge they know how the work is done. For this reason, great performance coaches will know how to give direction and be patient with stumbles. Last but not least, they should know how to give credit when it’s due. When employees feel valued, they are more willing to share responsibility, confront challenges and adapt well to change. A coach‘s feedback should also motivate and commit players to the team.

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In business, there is no participation trophy. When the team is losing by 15 points at halftime, it is time to be honest with the reality of the situation. Managers who act as performance coaches cannot be afraid of giving employees constructive criticism. Without the guidance away from what is wrong, how would workers know when they did something right? It’s important the coach explains and shows with tone and tact that the critique is not meant to knock employees down.

The performance coach (and any effective manager) will assure employees that criticism is given when there’s real potential for improvement and a future of growth within the company. Implementing constructive feedback will create an environment where employees are also honest with you as well, which means becoming a better leader.


In recent years, management and coaching styles have become less about command and control output and more about ask and inspire feedback and development. Generally, employees want to support the company and like when they can share input on their work and projects. A performance coach will make the process less of a linear process and more of a team effort.

When leaders ask for help or call for collaboration, employees feel engaged in the decision-making process, which translates to a personal feeling of responsibility for the outcome. This involvement also increases innovation of new solutions and the comfort of sharing ideas with their coaches.Performance coaches know that asking for help or direction is a sign of strength and can result in amazing feedback for the company.

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A performance coach will understand they are capable of making a mistake. This goes for any leader, but a performance coach will grasp the fact they don’t know everything, especially when it comes to making decisions for the team. It is essential for performance management programs to call for feedback from employees. Not only can a coach gain great insight, but listening is a great way to build trust with your workforce and improve communication. In steps active listening.

Effective listening requires your full attention: turn off your phone, close your laptop and find a dedicated space where you won’t be interrupted. Be sure to demonstrate your active listening through eye contact and by reflecting back paraphrases of what was expressed to you. The conversation doesn’t stop there. Performance coaches have to make sure the employee sees results from the discussion, so they should use active listening as a chance to develop actionable goals and the plan to meet them. Overall, active listening encourages employees to share valuable ideas to the business.

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As a performance coach, you are a support system. Coaches have to be able to wear many hats and address each employee in the way they respond best. This individual should be especially great at pinpointing the work values and communication styles of their employees. When they can correctly identify these in each person, they can tailor their approach to training and mentoring in a time efficient way.

Managing the performance of your best employees (and those employees with bad attitudes) results in having a more engaged and productive team. If you’re ready to start seeing your best employees succeed, check out our guide to Giving High Performers a Runway.

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