The start of a new year is a great time to update team member records, review performance, and start with a clean slate. However, before you can start your team on a path to success, you sometimes have to deliver information about opportunities for improvement and plans for future success.
Opportunities to Improve
Everyone deserves an opportunity to improve. I have always believed that when someone is having performance issues there are several things you have to consider. First, have they been properly trained? Training is so important to ensure that your team is working as efficiently as possible to deliver on your customer promise.
Next, is there something affecting the person in his or her personal life? One must always walk through the doors and leave personal issues behind when arriving at work. Sometimes this can be very difficult. When you build relationships with your team, this is an easy issue to tackle: although, it is very important to ensure that your employee is not playing a victim role on a consistent basis. Another issue is that your employee may not have enough experience in their role to perform confidently, without error, or to exceed the expectations set before them. All of these are simple issues that can be dealt with through proper coaching.
Coaching is an important option in every manager’s toolbox. It is what separates managers from leaders. When you provide your team with effective coaching relevant to their performance, you not only build respect for each other, but you begin to impact and motivate your team to perform better. Utilizing development tools and resources to enhance their performance creates loyalty and strength in your teams.
However, coaching must be done properly, because everyone reacts to feedback in a different way. It is crucial to understand when and how coaching will make the most impact. Whenever possible, coaching should be done in the moment, as a coachable issue arises. If that is not an appropriate time, especially if there are others around, then make a note and take the time to provide your feedback as close to any occurrence as possible so your employee understands and remembers what the situation may have been.
Work as a team with the person being coached. There should be a goal and commitment from both parties to resolve any areas that the employee needs to improve. It is up to the employee to understand the importance of ownership in their development plan, but as the coach, leaders must be available to support and provide direction that will help team members grow.
Coaching Colleagues Who Are Friends
Team members discussing business plan and ideas in office
Often, when working as a team, there are personal relationships developed in the workplace, times when a co-worker is promoted above another, or when we may hire a friend who fits the company culture. In any event, friendships in the workplace can cause strain when there are performance issues.
First of all, it is important as leaders that we follow policies and procedures of our company’s expectations. With that said, there are still situations where a friend may need coaching. It is best to first have honesty, if it is a true friendship this should be easy and there should be a conversation that addresses the potential for performance conversations. I can remember a time when I was first promoted to a managerial position and I reported to my dearest friend. This was one of my most effective and appreciated times that I grew the most in my career. I was young, new to management, and had many things to learn. My friend had an open and honest conversation in the beginning of my career where there was mutual agreement that no matter how difficult the coaching, she would continue to be open and honest with me. We had several tough conversations, but through our time together, not only did we both learn from the experience, but we still remained close friends and still are 15 years later.
Evaluating the ROI of Performance Development
Coaching is only effective when you can see the positive results of your effort and time. As I mentioned before, it is important that each employee understands the importance of their ownership in their own development. It is as simple as asking them at the end of the conversation to recap the expectations of their plan set forth. If they can articulate the expectations, then that is a great start!
The next step is to follow up: your plan should include a SMART plan—one that is Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable, and Time-bound. Here at SGEi, we take it a step further and include Resources so you have a SMARTR plan in place.
As I mentioned before, providing the team with developmental tools and resource helps to build loyalty and to strengthen your team. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the hard work from your employees to improve themselves, and watching them grow and develop within their roles. Results should be visible in their actions, but there should also be improvement in their habits and behavior.