How to coach employees is a thing that mystifies many managers, who fumble with it, dread it or defer it. To look at how not to do it, one might watch an episode of "The Office." If you want to learn how to do it right, here are some useful tips that can have you relating, helping and coaching employees in your company to be their personal best.
Be real. You don't want to act as a superior. Although you may have been with the company for years longer than the employee that you are addressing, but you are all equals aside from the position in a company. Never let your position of authority go to your head in how you deal with employees. This is especially important for coaching.
- Use the sandwich approach. This is where you coach the employee in three simple steps. First, you give positive feedback. You want to reinforce what the employee is doing right. Next, you want to give constructive criticism. Let the employee know the areas in which he needs improving. Your coaching and leadership skills will come into play here. The trick is to make sure that the message is getting through loud and clear, without chastising or condescending in any way. You want to motivate. Next, end the conversation with another honest, positive piece of feedback about an area in which the employee is doing a stellar job. This way, it's evident that you are noticing the good and the bad.
- Listen. A big part of being a great manager is understanding that the people around you are your most valuable asset. There's a lot that you can learn from everyone. When coaching employees, make sure to listen to what they have to say. You may be unaware of how a thing may be more effectively done if you haven't worked that exact position, even if the answer seems obvious to an insider. You can learn a lot and be a more effective coach by truly listening to what your employees have to say.
- Focus on solutions. When you need to coach an employee, focusing on a mistake that he made or a rule that he broke won't solve a thing. If he takes longer breaks than he should, address the issue by asking why he does this. He may tell you that he has a child that he must call or other legitimate reason. Of course, he may make something up. Part of being a team player is giving someone the benefit of the doubt, though. If he is going to continue to take longer breaks, allow him to decide if he then wants to shorten the lunch hour or come in a few minutes earlier or later to solve the predicament and unfairness the situation presents to co-workers. Allow the employee to be part of the solution, and neither of you will need to focus on the problem any longer.