Sticky Notes: Start Coaching Employees Before Problems Arise

Start coaching employees when they are doing great or doing just OK. Coach people every step of the way and help them develop good habits before they ever have a chance to develop bad ones.

Early on in our work with managers, we learned that most managers only coach employees when they encounter a recurring performance problem.

But why wait until employees are failing to start coaching? Set them up for success by helping them get better and better—one person at a time, one day at a time—in upward spirals of continuous improvement.

Tips for performance coaches:

  • Tune in to the individual you are coaching.
  • Focus on specific instances of individual performance.
  • Describe the employee’s performance honestly and vividly.
  • Develop concrete next steps.
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up.

For example, if you have an employee who chronically misses deadlines, start coaching her when the deadline is first set. Help her establish intermediate benchmarks and make a plan for meeting those deadlines. Then check in with the employee frequently. Talk through the accomplishment of each step in advance. Ninety-nine percent of the time that employee is going to start meeting her deadlines.

Start coaching employees when they are doing great or doing just OK. Coach people every step of the way and help them develop good habits before they ever have a chance to develop bad ones.

Bruce Tulgan is a best-selling author and CEO of RainmakerThinking, the management research, consulting, and training firm he founded in 1993. All of his work is based on 27 years of intensive workplace interviews and has been featured in thousands of news stories around the world. His newest book, “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work: Win Influence, Beat Overcommitment, and Get the Right Things Done”( Harvard Business Review Press) is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major booksellers. Follow Tulgan on Twitter @BruceTulgan or visit his Website at: rainmakerthinking.com.