The first step in any effort to improve employee performance is counseling or coaching. Counseling or coaching is part of the day-to-day interaction between a supervisor and an employee who reports to her, or an HR professional and line managers.
Coaching often provides positive feedback about employee contributions. At the same time, regular coaching brings performance issues to an employee's attention when they are minor, and assists the employee to correct them.
The goal of performance coaching is not to make the employee feel badly, or to show how much the HR professional or supervisor knows. The goal of coaching is to work with the employee to solve performance problems and improve the work of the employee, the team, and the department.
Use these steps in effective and supportive coaching.
- Show confidence in the employee's ability and willingness to solve the problem. Ask him or her for help in solving the problem.
- Describe the performance problem. Focus on the problem or behavior that needs improvement, not the person. Ask for the employee's view of the situation.
- Determine whether issues exist that limit the employee's ability to perform the task or accomplish the objective. Four common barriers are time, training, tools, and temperment. Determine how to remove these barriers.
- Discuss potential solutions to the problem or improvement actions to take. Ask the employee for ideas on how to correct the problem, or prevent it from happening again.
- Agree on a written action plan that lists what the employee, the supervisor, and possibly, the HR professional, will do to correct the problem or improve the situation.
- Set a date and time for follow-up. Determine if a critical feedback path is needed, so the supervisor knows how the employee is progressing. Offer positive encouragement. Express confidence in the employee's ability to improve.