Put Me In, Coach

By Candace Fisher, SPHR, Director, Organizational Development/Certified Coach
Published March 13, 2018

coaching team memberPlaying centerfield isn’t the only position that requires a good coach. Your supervisors and managers need to consistently coach their team members to be the best players they can be to contribute to the success of your organization. Sadly, this component of a manager’s job is often sidelined. “I don’t have time.” “Customers come first.” “Employees should know how to do their job.” “I have ‘real work’ to do!” Do any of these statements sound familiar? Or maybe I should ask, do any of these excuses sound familiar? Supervisors get work done through other people. For that to happen – successfully – the supervisor has to manage the performance of their employees.

I’m not encouraging micromanagement of employees. But it is critical that managers monitor their employees’ performance and coach them to success. If an employee isn’t succeeding, the first place for their supervisor to look is inward. What have they done to help the employee succeed?

Successful coaching involves setting the employee up to succeed. The supervisor needs to set clear goals and expectations with the employee. We use the SMART acronym to define clear goals. The expectation needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Accepted, Relevant and Results-Oriented, and Time-Related. Employees aren’t mind readers. If they don’t know what their supervisor or the organization expects of them, they won’t know what, how, or by when they should achieve it! Another part of setting employees up to succeed is making sure that they have the tools and resources necessary to do the job. The employee might need some additional training to learn how to accomplish the objective. And don’t forget the most valuable resource: time. While all organizations are “doing more with less,” there is a limit to every person’s capacity.

Once the employee has been set up to succeed, a supervisor needs to monitor employee performance through regular check-ins. Weekly meetings to provide performance feedback aren’t too frequent. If employees are doing well, they need to hear it. If a course correction is required, they need to hear it – sooner than later. Many supervisors wait until they are so frustrated with an employee’s performance that they jump right into discipline – or even to termination. When you ask the supervisor if the employee knows that he’s missing the mark or even if he knows what is expected of him, the response should NEVER be, “They should”! Again, employees can’t read minds. Regular, ongoing communication between supervisors and employees is critical to the employee’s – and to the supervisor’s – success. 

Your supervisors need to understand that setting their employees up for success and coaching them toward that success is their responsibility. Has your organization set supervisors up for success? Have they been trained how to coach employees for success and how to give critical performance feedback?

On April 12, 2018, the Management Association will present  “Conducting Critical Conversations.”  This full-day session is packed with information to help your supervisors and managers set their employees up for success and coach them to be part of a winning team. For more information or to register your team members for this session, visit our website or call (800) 448-4584.

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