Using a coaching model in managing performance
In last week’s managing performance masterclass one of the principles we discussed was to identify when your team need support. One indication of this is when they say “I can’t do this” or after the event when they say “I didn’t have time”.
There can be many reasons someone doesn’t perform to standard and these might include
- lack the skills and appropriate training
- inadequate resources or tools
- not enough time due to too much to do or staff shortages
- they have not been given authority or access to everything they need
- mixed messages from management about what they should be doing
But despite having everything they need it doesn’t necessarily mean they can do the task to standard, or do it at all!
Reasons may include, for example
- They lack confidence in their ability or worried they will make a mistake
- They are approaching the task the wrong way
- They are cutting corners or rushing things so making silly mistakes
Coaching may be the answer.
How is this different to training?
With coaching you are helping the team member to come up with their own solutions.
It can help people tap into what they already know and find their own solutions. So if someone is struggling to apply a new skill, or simply making mistakes with a task they’ve been able to do ok in the past, coaching might well be the answer to identify what’s standing in the way and how to improve performance.
Probably one of the most widely known coaching models is GROW.
GROW stands for GOAL, REALITY, OPTIONS and WILL
It is not appropriate for every situation, but can be used to great effect to tap into people’s existing knowledge and experience and develop potential.
It is based on the principle that the ‘coach’ asks questions and draws the answer from the ‘coachee’ or team member.
This leads to increased awareness, better buy in and commitment, increases confidence and is good development.
Setting the overall coaching objectives and the goals for the coaching session. Goals need to be SMART*. There may two types of goal – one long term goal, then a short term goal for this discussion. Goals need to focus on what will be observed or happening once it is achieved.
In the case of when someone’s performance has dropped the GOAL would be to raise the level of performance to the set standard. Help them identify what good looks like, which might include how if feels for them when they are achieving this. Watch out for abstract words such as ‘confidence‘ or ‘improve‘ as they are subjective; ensure you are both clear what these mean. (see ‘Fluff Busting’ article here)
Checking and raising awareness of the situation right now. This brings out the employee’s perception of the situation, which can sometimes be very different from the manager’s. It is important that you don’t make assumptions about what is happening, even if you think you already know! It is important to get a full a picture as possible about what is happening to get to the root of the problem.
Finding alternative strategies, solutions, answers. This is usually the hardest part for the manager acting as coach, as it is all too easy to give the answers or make suggestions. This means the employee will continue to be dependent on you to come up with solutions and not have to think for themselves. It is far more rewarding for the employee to come up with their own solutions.
And they will be far more committed to acting on solutions that they themselves have identified
There’s a big difference between saying what you CAN do and what you WILL do!
We’ve all been to meetings when there has been a lot of talk and ideas and then you meet again a few weeks later and nothing has happened. The same will happen following a coaching discussion if there is no summing up of the course of action, and commitment from the employee to take action.
So it’s important to test the team member’s commitment to action by making concrete, realistic plans to reach it. This may involve flushing out any barriers or concerns, so they don’t get in the way and become an excuse for failing to take action.
The GROW coaching model
This format works well for day to day discussions in supporting your team in their work, as well as more formal one to one discussions on performance, objective setting, and development planning. It also gives a structure to use in team meetings for group problem solving.
If you only do one thing:
Next time you have a discussion with one of your team on what they need to do to resolve a problem, before you just tell them what to do, stop and consider if they could come up with the solution themselves by exploring each of these 4 questions.
An alternative version of SMART goals