Guest Blogger – Charles Plant, Chairman, Creative Director, Material Minds

I was talking recently with someone who is a VP in Human Resources. She related a story about a survey they did of employees regarding performance appraisals. One comment from an employee stood out above all others. That employee said:

I would much rather have 365 days of coaching than one day of judging.

The problem is that with all of the demands on us at work, we tend not to spend the time we need coaching people. Instead we have these annual judging sessions, commonly referred to as Performance Appraisals.

How much do you look forward to your own performance appraisal? How about the work required to do appraisals for your direct reports? They always seem to come at a bad time of year, take too much work, and be fraught with anguish and trepidation. What fun.

There should be no surprises in performance appraisals. They should summarize conversations held throughout the year. However the only way to make them less than miserable is to be spending time doing more coaching, yes, coaching 365 days a year.

Six keys to Effective Coaching

  1. Availability
    Don’t hide in your office. Be with your direct reports. Manage by walking around. Be available for conversations. Have an open door policy and regular meetings
  2. Listening
    When you’re talking with employees, make sure you listen. Listen not just for what they are saying but also for why they are saying it saying it. What are their needs, their emotions, and their perspectives?
  3. Questioning
    Engage in a dialog and question for understanding. Start by repeating what they are trying to say and move on to look for the reasons why they are saying it.
  4. Communicating
    Communicating isn’t just about pushing information. It’s about explaining context, teaching skills, giving feedback. It’s about setting clear expectations and giving frequent fair feedback
  5. Motivating
    Finally, a good coach is a motivator, holding out a vision of the future and showing the person their role in achieving that vision. It is about rewarding people for effort and results on a regular basis. It’s also about holding them accountable.
  6. Caring
    In the words of someone much wiser than me: They won’t care what you know until they know that you care about them.