- Are you frustrated with poor staff performance in your business?
- Have you given your team members tools to do their role, but they still under-perform and miss their KPIs?
- Do you sometimes wonder if it’s time to let certain staff go?
At times it’s easy to assume your staff just don’t care enough to do their job well. Before you decide to move them on, make sure you’ve given them every opportunity to succeed.
As a leader or manager, it’s your responsibility to improve staff performance by providing team members with training and support to do their role. It’s their responsibility to be interested and take every opportunity to improve their skills. Coaching will help them develop their own abilities, and add more value to your business.
So how do you improve staff performance?
During your weekly one-on-one meeting is an ideal time to coach your team members (if you aren’t doing this, request our e-book “The 4 habits of highly effective managers” for a guide to effective meetings with your staff).
First, introduce the idea. “Ben, I’m going to coach you to help you improve your skills, and effectiveness in your role. It’s part of increasing productivity, which is my job as a leader in this business.” Of course, you can put that in your own words. Good team members will welcome any opportunity to improve, so if you get pushback at this stage you could question why they don’t want to be better at their role.
Now you’ve introduced the concept of coaching, how do you implement it? There are four steps.
1. Collaborate to set a goal
The idea is cooperation, not dictatorship. Start with “Let’s set some goals”, not, “Here’s what I want you to do by December.” People are much more likely to implement a plan when they’ve contributed to it from the start.
Together, decide on a behaviour or result to achieve, and set a date to have it done by. Your employee might state: “I want to be proficient at our new software by 30th June.”
2. Brainstorm resources
Brainstorming is all about quantity of ideas, not quality. Ask your team member to write down all the possible resources they have to achieve that goal. They should include anything that comes to mind, without evaluation. In 2 or 3 minutes a good brainstorming list could have 20+ ideas. In our software example their options might include seeking help and training from a colleague, watching video tutorials, or taking a course.
3. Create a plan
From this bucket of ideas, discuss which are feasible, and which the employee will act on. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few, create a short-term plan (up to 4 weeks). Start with about 3 or 4 steps with deadlines.
Ensure the tasks the employee sets for themselves are small, specific, and achievable. Even short tasks such as researching are steps towards the goal. “Get online and find 3 books that might be helpful, by Monday next week” is more achievable than “read 3 books by next week”.
4. The employee acts
It’s now up to the team member to do the work, and report back to you on their progress at a mutually agreed time (their next one-on-one meeting is ideal).
Remember that you are the coach, not the teacher. To improve staff performance, it’s not always up to you to suggest options and find information, but to coach your team members to decide what they’ll do. (And remember they may do things differently than you, which is fine as long as the desired result is achieved!)
Coaching your team members takes the pressure off you, as the leader or manager, to provide all the resources your employees need to succeed. It helps your team recognise their own options, plan their own actions and timeframes, and feel the rewards of achievement.
As your team members take more responsibility for their own learning, they will increase their ability, so you have more time to grow and develop your business.
A high-performing business needs individuals all working at their peak. Business moves fast, and if your team aren’t constantly improving, you may fall behind your competition. To have a healthy, evolving business, team development is not an option, it’s a necessity!