Coaching Employees Is Your Job

Every manager has to deal with performance, attitude, behavior or other employee performance problems. There are too many managers and supervisors that seem to want to ignore or minimize the problems, however. For the sake of other employees, managers should deal with problems as they arise. Ignoring the problem can lead to disgruntled co-workers and it sends a message to employees that they can underperform or act inappropriately.

One of the key roles of a manager is to help employees learn how to become better employees. When a problem arises with an employee that requires a manager to have a discussion with the employee, the manager must become a coach and a counselor. Keep in mind that the role of a manager is to assist the employee in understanding the issue at hand, listen to the employee’s feedback and provide input to the employee that will help the employee deal with the issue.

Also, it is critical that the manager follow the appropriate disciplinary process. If an employee is not made well aware of performance, attitude, behavior or other problems, it will become more difficult to terminate the employee should that become necessary.

To effectively coach and counsel an employee, keep these things in mind:
-Make the feedback constructive and do it in a caring manner.
-Talk about what you perceive, what you feel and what you need. Be extremely clear.
-Restate the employee’s remarks by paraphrasing to be sure you fully understand what has been said as they provide input to the process.
-Talk about what the employee does. Stay away from personality traits. Address behavior and don’t become a psychologist.
-Zero in on observed or known behavior. Be very careful about how you approach an employee about heresay. In fact, try to avoid dealing with heresay unless you have a strong reason to suspect it is true.
-Be specific and discuss only one issue at a time.
-Provide some positive feedback in addition to the negative feedback. In fact, try to start the conversation in a positive manner.
-Allow the employee to give feedback freely. But be careful to not get caught in a repetitive conversation that goes nowhere.
-And finally and, perhaps most importantly, listen, listen, listen!

Good managers are good coaches. They can effectively communicate to an employee that a problem exists and they know how to listen effectively. How a manager handles problems as they arise can have a significant impact on employee morale.