Today, coaching is viewed as an important process employers can use to help address performance issues and ensure every employee provides the company what it needs. Most importantly, coaching, on a regular and informal basis, can provide employees the extra incentive and guidance they need to be successful.
In my years as a business owner and executive coach, I found that informal (off the grid) coaching opportunities are often the most successful in addressing issues before they become big problems. Skillful coaching can address improvement needs, ensure right behavior, and/or thank an employee for a job well done.
There are a few steps in holding an off the grid coaching session that I would like to share.
Be sure you are in a private area. Holding a coaching session in a hallway where others can observe or eavesdrop is not beneficial to you or the employee. Either invite the employee into your office (this can be intimidating), go to their office area (better), or ask them to take a walk with you around the organization (best).
Establish the subject of the conversation. Ask the employee what their top issue is and what challenges or successes they have experienced of late. Ask them to describe why the issue is so important and how solving it would benefit them. If this is something you would like to bring up, ask permission to hold the discussion. This helps instill trust and buy-in.
Help the employee discover alternate perspectives. During the discussion, ask the employee what they think should happen. If they did not need to worry about a future outcome, what would they do? Ask them to think about the issue from multiple perspectives. How would it look if they were the client? The boss? Their own subordinate? What would they do in each of those instances?
Develop next steps. Once the employee determines the outcome they would like to see, help them decide the steps to get there. What would happen first, second and third? How can they get started? What do they need from you?
Help the employee overcome fear of failing. Sometimes people do not act for fear of failing. Ensure the employee that it is OK if things do not work out as planned (really mean this one…punishing mistakes discussed in this coaching session would be a killer to your relationship with the employee and very harmful to the culture of the organization). Ask the employee to identify what may be preventing them from moving forward and what you can do to help remove any challenges.
Establish a future “touch base” time. Set a time to check in and see how the employee is handling the issue they identified. Hold yourself accountable for providing support and helping remove the challenges you promised. Ask the employee how the process worked for them and what you can do to make sure they meet their goals and achieve success.
Once you establish these off the grid coaching sessions, you will find employees more willing to come to you on their own to discuss issues, opportunities, problems or challenges. Your input and guidance is not feared but embraced. You are on your way to developing a culture that is open, innovative and continuously improving.