Choosing an area to coach to improve performance

Finding Development Areas

To observe and analyse behavior to pinpoint development needs you should start by asking yourself where do you like to see better results. Your choice of specific issues to coach will most definitely to fill gaps between actual and expected levels of performance but your coaching can also aim and look for unused potential.

Looking into a team member's performance you need to think about what you are actually seeing and hearing. you must be very careful not to judge for example do not decide that a person is not managing their time enough because this is your own interpretation. Note specifics you've actually observed , do they often miss deadlines, for example or do they often show up late and always rushing. Focus on specifics be careful and do not judge too soon cause this may lead your coaching effort down the wrong way.

Separate characteristics from factors affecting performance by thinking of as many factors as possible that causes the performance gaps you are confident you have witnessed that are backed up by evidence and solid facts. It is very important to brainstorm as many possible causes of performance gaps as possible cause this will be the main framework of your performance evaluation and observation then the next step is  to divide the causes into two categories :

 

a - Characteristics: which are all the personal traits, skills and capabilities that the team member brings into his/her performance (Attitudes, Skills and knowledge)

b-  Factors affecting performance: Those things beyond your team member's control  

 

The next step is to revisit the list of characteristics and factors affecting performance and look for evidence to support or counter each. At this point, it is not unusual to discover that all the contributory factors are factors affecting performance rather than characteristics. This means you need to take off your coaching hat,put on your manager hat, and sort out the factors. Supposing, however, you find that in a missed deadlines problem there is evidence of poor time management and coordinating skills? Well, now you know which characteristics you’re working with.

 

Observing the same characteristics in more helpful situations

To help someone turn a characteristic that is hindering performance into one that helps it, you need to know more about that characteristic than just how it operates when it’s hindering performance. You need to think about (and if necessary observe some more) how your team member uses that characteristic in helpful situations so you can come to an overall perspective on whether it’s a strength (more helpful than hindering) or a weakness (more hindering than helpful). Getting this rounded picture is essential because you want to improve the way it’s hindering this particular area of performance but without undermining its contribution in other areas.

 

The Value of getting a complete picture and proper analysis of performance

 
You’re wasting both your and your team member’s time if you get the wrong analysis. This is like the planning stage of a project – the more you invest now, the less time you’ll need later. If you can get to a point where you really understand your team member’s performance, giving feedback becomes easy. You’ll know exactly what you’re talking about and have the examples to back it up (which will enhance your credibility with your team member no end). And you’ll have the perfect antidote to the dreaded sandwich feedback technique because you can talk about the characteristic in the round – showing where it’s helpful as well as where you’d like to improve it.

Adapted from a great book on coaching " Real coaching and feedback " By Karen Smart . This book is a highly recommended read on the topic of coaching and feedback.

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