Management: Coach Your Employees to Better Performance

In talent management, coaching, counseling and giving feedback is of utmost importance.

But it’s a difficult challenge if you don’t have a coaching culture.

When managers become coaches, you get a higher-performing workforce. You will have replaced mediocrity with strong performance. Therefore, it’s best to develop a coaching culture to optimize talent management.

If your employees become toxic or if they backslide in performance and productivity, you need to figure out how to solve the problems.

Essentially, there’s a variety of challenges for you. Be absolutely certain you’re accurate in your employee assessments and avoid errors in evaluations.

For instance, you have to be aware that new workers have a learning curve. Veteran employees are asked to change. Toxic employees are disruptive and destroy morale among your staff.

In many situations, employees are fearful of coaching and don’t respond well. It’s also stressful for you. Avoid management stress. Take the necessary steps to enjoy your job while managing difficult employees.

Frustrations dealing with difficult employees coincide with many management issues – teamwork, morale, organizational dysfunction and weak customer relationships – just to name a handful.

And they’re all related to loss of profit. Especially for toxic employees, it’s vital to develop the best coaching tactics.

In all employee issues, you must always plan well and then self-ascertain how you did in managing the employees.

For example, ask yourself:

  • What went well and what didn’t?
  • What would you change about your approach with the employees?
  • How can you better prepare for such conversations?
  • How can I best support the employees and capitalize on the counseling?

A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written well with the right phrasing.

Concurrently, give employees a chance to mull over what you said and to respond by engaging with you. This helps to guarantee the best results.

The employees become more confident and feel management support to implement an action plan with autonomy in their duties.

Always remember your approach must be to discuss employees and inspire them to work out their challenges vis-à-vis just telling them to improve or telling them what to do.

What if your coaching isn’t working?

Then, you must continue to be fair but to embark on progressive discipline to fix the problems while guarding against possible wrongful termination lawsuits.

Here’s how:

Oral reprimand

Immediately when spotting a performance issue, you should issue an oral reprimand and document it in detail and put it in a separate file (not the employee’s file).

In starting your reprimand, remember to ask if the employee if there are any skill shortcomings or long-term problems.

Outline an action plan.

Do your best to save the employee. This might or might not include referring your worker to your Employee Assistance Program, especially for drug addiction or alcoholism issues.

Written reprimand

If the employee fails to improve or if more problems develop, give the employee a written reprimand about the deficiencies, what’s expected and the possible consequences.

Be sure to explain your benchmarks for improvement in performance.

Have the employee sign an acknowledgment of your written reprimand. Insert in the employee’s HR file.

Ultimate reprimand in writing

Should your efforts fail, give the employee your final written warning. Usually this includes probationary status.

With your warning, include copies of the previous reprimands. Be specific on expected improvements. Specify time frames for improved performance.

Continually review the process

If you have a human resources department, of course, by now HR showed be notified about the issues. Prevent possible challenges to terminating the employee.

For instance, be aware of any discharge-related considerations:

  • Determine whether you have a contract with the employee and any possible restrictions.
  • Check on employee complaints – whether the employee has filed a workers’ compensation claim, complained to government regulators, or strategized to make it look as though you’re retaliating. Retaliation is a huge no-no.
  • Review all your steps to maintain fairness with the employee. You must be able to prove your case should there be legal ramifications.
  • Keep in mind that if you’re forced to terminate workers, you must first ask yourself three important questions.

Commence firing

After you’ve given the employee adequate opportunities to improve, start the termination process.

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

HR: Avoid Bias in Evaluating Top Employees Who Backslide — Don’t be too lenient with talented employees with a history of strong performance but who decline in their work. Document every event in any downtrend of performance. Inevitably, many terminated employees will file claims accusing you of discrimination.

Management: 5 Most Common Reasons to Fire Employees — With difficult employees, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s what to do.

Management: 7 Tips for Success if You Must Layoff Employees — Companies typically make two short-sighted errors in a business downturn. They slash the workforce and marketing investments. To the contrary, it’s important to place a maximum value on your human capital and avoid layoffs, and to expand marketing.

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

“Resources are hired to give results, not reasons.” 
-Amit Kalantri



Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Will State Lawmakers Heed New SBA Data, Small Business Concerns?

Jan. 26, 2012

There’s more evidence that small business plays a pivotal role in creating jobs in Washington and other states, according to the Office of Advocacy in the Small Business Administration (SBA). The Office of Advocacy released small business data for each of the 50 states.

SBA believes the new data is “an invaluable resource for small businesses, legislators, academics, government officials, and policymakers in each state.”


“Small businesses are the foundation of economic growth in Washington and in our nation” said Dr. Winslow Sargeant, Chief Counsel for Advocacy. “By supporting policies that promote innovation and entrepreneurship, we help small businesses tackle these challenging economic times. These statistics are a resource for a path to economic growth.”

As for Washington state, the report explains “small business employment; business starts and closings; bank lending; business ownership by minorities, women, and veterans; and firm and employment change by major industry and firm size.”

Salient data about small business:

  • There were 532,162 small businesses in Washington in 2009. Of these, 142,854 were employers and they accounted for 53.3 percent of private sector jobs in the state. Small firms made up 98.1 percent of the state’s employers.
  • Throughout 2010, the number of opening establishments was lower than closing establishments and the net employment change from this turnover was negative.
  • Washington’s real gross state product increased 0.7 percent and private-sector employment decreased 1.8 percent in 2010. By comparison, real GDP in the United States decreased 1.3 percent and private sector employment declined by 0.8 percent.
  • Self-employment in Washington surged over the last decade. Female self-employment fared the best compared with other demographic groups during the decade.

To promote entrepreneurship, this week the Washington Policy Center sent state lawmakers in the 2012 legislative session these recommendations:

  1. Revisit the voluntary settlement agreement as passed by the state Senate in 2011 – $1.2 billion
  2. Reform the displaced worker retraining program
  3. Simplify sales taxes by using an ‘origin based’ tax (as opposed to a ‘destination based’ tax) and creating a flat rate for out-of-state businesses
  4. Review regulations to ensure that Washington rules don’t exceed federal regulations
  5. Enact Tort Reform
  6. Do no harm in transportation policy – do not reduce road lane capacity
  7. Do not follow Seattle in enacting statewide paid sick leave

In addition, Gov. Gregoire suggested her strategies to aid small business — business and occupation tax relief.

How has the Legislature responded? Lawmakers have ignored their $1.5 budget-deficit crisis.

Instead, lawmakers are considering other matters – mandating paid sick leave and safe leave, banning plastic bags, abolishing the death penalty and gay marriage.

When will Washington’s Legislature demonstrate wisdom?

From the Coach’s Corner, also read:

WPC Hits Target, but Will Washington State Legislature?

Washington: A Balanced Budget Is No Longer Enough

Does the Federal Reserve Understand Small Business?

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. 


Columnist Terry Corbell is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services (many are available online). For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule Terry Corbell as a speaker, why don’t you contact him today?

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.