Effective Coaching

Coaching and Counseling are the two strongest tools a manager has to increase the productivity of their staff. Typically coaching and counseling are discussed together as they pretty much go hand-in-hand. Here I will focus on the Coaching aspect as “part 1” of this two-part article.

First, I would like to identify the difference between the two. Coaching is a form of communication used to teach a new job skill, or to improve upon a current skill. Counseling, however, is used more specifically to help correct an observed behavior or a method of performing a task.

For either to be successful, the most important part is being able to properly identify what form of communication would be most appropriate for the associate receiving it. I have usually seen employees grouped into 4 basic categories.

1. No Experience/New – It is this person’s first job. They need the MOST communication. If you delegate them a task without thorough direction, they will not complete it effectively, and also feel frustrated and neglected. Requires maximum direction and maximum follow-up.

2. No Experience/Old – Still their first job, but worked for you for some time. This one is tricky. You must offer the proper respect to what they have learned, but also give enough direction when delegating new tasks. Requires maximum direction and less follow-up.

3. Experienced/New – This person has relevant experience, but are new to your company. This one is also tricky. You should be asking them lots of questions when delegating a task. You need to identify where their knowledge ends, so you can effectively describe how it is done by your company’s standard. Requires minimum direction and maximum follow-up.

4. Experienced/Old – These should be the easiest to talk to. They understand both their job requirements and the skills necessary to complete them. Requires minimum direction and minimum follow-up.

When coaching your employees, always remember that they are an individual. You can achieve the most success by tailoring your style to fit their needs. Unfortunately, most turnover is caused by a lack in training. If the employee has never done something before, it is not fair to them to ask them to do it without direction, and then be upset when it is not done properly. On the other hand, if you have a very experienced and talented employee, they would probably feel disrespected and ultimately form a disconnect, if they were given a ten minute demonstration on how to perform one of their basic job functions. Both of these scenarios are too common. Proper coaching will not only give you a much more efficient store, but can also greatly decrease your turnover.

Tip: If you have an employee that falls into category 4, but they are not performing a basic job function properly, ask them to partner with you in training a new employee on that function. Not only will both employees learn a job function in a way that shows respect to both of their skill sets, but the new employee will be excited at how you treat your veteran employees, and the veteran employee will get a boost in pride by being included in the training of another employee.

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