Once you've mastered the mindset of the coach, you're ready to try the exercise of coaching an employee with a performance problem. A coaching session to improve poor performance might contain the following steps:
- Express the performance standards for the job and review past performance of the employee. Explain why it is important to the business for the employee to perform well.
- Describe the areas of performance that the employee must improve. As best as possible, describe desired performance in terms of results that are to be achieved. Explain what happens to the department or the company when the employee does not perform well. Describe what good performance looks like, providing concrete examples of good work, if possible. The process of constructive feedback is helpful here.
- Ask for the person's view on why performance does not meet standards. Does the employee believe there is a problem?
- Discuss possible solutions. What does the person propose to do to solve the problem? Have the employee develop steps to solve the problem to create a sense of ownership in the solution. Suspend the session if the employee needs more time to develop a plan. If the employee cannot develop a plan, develop one for the employee.
- Agree to a written action plan containing specific goals and timetables for meeting those goals.
- Have the employee orally commit to the action plan and provide the employee with a copy of the plan. Retain another copy as documentation of the meeting.
- Follow up on performance based on the goals stated in the action plan. Provide feedback on how the employee is doing. Offer suggestions to improve performance. Praise instances where performance has improved.
Coaching to improve poor performance is often the first step of the progressive discipline process. If the employee does not improve performance, however, explain that you may be required to take more severe discipline steps.