The Importance of Year Round Coaching and Feedback

30 Apr, 2009 | by

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As a manager, do you conduct meaningful performance appraisals with your employees every 6 or 12 months? Do you collaborate with your employees to develop and set meaningful goals? Do your employees only receive a performance appraisal or are they a part of the process?

Many managers and employees view the performance appraisal process as an annual or semi-annual HR process in which the manager delivers feedback, often without the employee knowing what a “satisfactory” level of performance is. In reality, the performance appraisal process should be a year round collaboration in which the manager and employee are constantly communicating, adjusting based on the business, and sharing tools that enable the employee to grow and be successful. There are 5 keys to successful year round coaching and feedback.

1. Year round coaching and feedback must be just that – ongoing. Managers and employees must make an effort to ensure that they are openly communicating throughout the year about the employees work performance and areas of both strength and development. By doing so, managers and employees are always on the same page with regards to work performance, giving the employee the opportunity to learn, grow, and be successful. It also ensures that there will be no surprises during the annual or semi-annual appraisal process.

2. The second key to successful year round coaching and feedback is communication. Managers often focus on addressing areas that they believe employees have a weakness in. They focus on the negative, which is destructive to the relationship. Communication in this concept has two parts. First, managers need to focus on positive feedback and reward for employees strengths and accomplishments. Second, managers must constructively discuss the employee’s developmental areas. This includes discussing the developmental need, examples supporting this need, the impact to the company, department and employee of the performance/behavior, and collaborating (and gaining commitment from the employee) on a plan of action for growth and improvement. This is where managers turn into coaches as they provide the employee with tools and guidance towards success.

3. Next, year round coaching and feedback must be collaborative. Managers and employees must work together in order to encourage continued strengths and to determine the cause of developmental needs. Collaboration ensures that when addressing developmental areas, the employee is a party to developing the solution and therefore more likely committed to implementing the solution. Collaboration also provides employees the opportunity to initiate conversation throughout the year, which is important because employees should always feel comfortable addressing their manager with questions and concerns. If they know that their manager will be receptive to their thoughts or concerns, employees will be more likely to openly participate.

4. Year round coaching and feedback should be both formal and informal. Managers should schedule periodic meetings with each employee to discuss attainment toward goals and general work performance. This is separate and beyond regular meetings about work assignments, and can be once a quarter or whatever works for the specific manager/employee team. Managers and employees should also be spontaneous with their year round performance conversations, meaning that managers shouldn’t wait for scheduled meetings to praise employees for positive behavior/work performance, or to address developmental needs. Waiting to discuss positive behaviors/work performance minimizes the impact of praise, and waiting to discuss developmental needs minimizes the necessity for development.

5. During year round coaching and feedback, managers must not forget to discuss the details. Many managers (and employees) discuss the situation, but fail to discuss specific examples of what the issue is, when it occurs, why it occurs, etc. Details are important because they bring situational information into the conversation which reinforces the specific point that is being discussed. Providing details enables the employee to continue to operate as they were praised for or alternatively, with information as to the specific impacts of developmental behaviors.

Year round coaching and feedback is an essential step in any performance management program. It is a small investment in time and effort, and when facilitated with genuine intent, will aid in employee morale, engagement and productivity, ultimately increasing customer service levels and company profitability.

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