When an employee’s performance dips, it’s time for the manager to coach the employee to achieve improved performance. There are seven steps in the DO COACH model. The model is effective because employees do not feel threatened during the session, they have an opportunity to present their ideas and influence the course of the discussion, and the manager who conducts the coaching session is helpful and constructive.
Pre the Coaching Session
Prior to the coaching conversation, the manager needs to complete two steps:
Diagnose Need– Consider the probable root cause of the performance or behavioral problem and identify the goal for the coaching process. The true reason for poor performance will need to be identified or confirmed by the employee during the coaching conversation. However, the manager should have documentation to support the fact of diminished performance.
Outline Approach– Identify the best strategy to raise the issue and obtain buy-in and cooperation from the employee. Coaching requires a cooperative relationship- otherwise it will be ineffective. This is where knowledge of the trust and communication needs of different personality types is very useful.
Once those preparatory steps have been completed, the manager is ready to conduct the coaching conversation.
During the Coaching Session
The five-step COACH stage of the DO COACH model assumes a collaborative and constructive dialogue. The employee should ultimately agree there is a performance issue and work together with the manager to outline specific and measurable action steps to improve performance.
Communicate- Create awareness of the coaching concern. Lay out the documentation of poor performance in a matter of fact manner, without judgment.
Open Dialogue- Ask questions to draw out the employee’s perceptions and recommendations, then actively listen to the answers. This is the best way to determine the actual cause for the poor performance and what may have contributed to it.
Act- Mutually develop a performance improvement action plan with specific deadlines. The employee is an adult and should be held accountable for identifying what she needs to do to improve her performance. This discussion may also include what the manager may need to do, e.g. providing training and/or resources, etc.
Check- Plan follow up and progress checkpoints. This way, the employee will be able to monitor her own performance. This point in the conversation also includes a discussion of what the employee should do if she knows there will be a problem with meeting a specific deadline.
Hand Off– Have the employee summarize the discussion and the resulting plan. It is wise to ask the employee to write the resulting plan out after the conversation, so that both employee and manager have a copy. End with positive reinforcement.
The DO COACH Model
When followed, the DO COACH model provides a simple but effective framework for a successful coaching conversation. The manager’s caring manner and thoughtful approach should encourage the employee to be an active participant in the conversation. Once the employee has acknowledged there is a performance problem, the manager needs to treat the employee as an adult who is accountable for her actions.
To the degree possible, the employee should be encouraged to identify the performance improvement steps she needs to take and the deadlines she feels are reasonable. The manager can set the parameters for this stage in the conversation, so the ultimate plan is acceptable to both.
Action: For a decision tree that outlines how to determine when coaching is an appropriate response, request a copy in the comments below.
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