By Libby Mullen
Gone are the days of annual or semi-annual performance reviews and ratings being the only anticipated employee feedback.
Studies have shown that conducting traditional reviews with the modern workforce is not effective for driving performance. Relying on annual reviews for employee feedback causes managers to lose touch with the day-to-day struggles and accomplishments of their employees, and has a negative effect on both employee satisfaction and professional development in organizations.
With those factors in mind, the traditional review structure for giving feedback to employees causes more harm than good. It’s a perfect example of why the “well that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality must be shifted.
Establishing a continuous coaching model in your organization will create a frequent reciprocal feedback cycle between managers and employees, resulting in stronger collective performance, which will drive your business results and make you more competitive.
Developing coaching skills for managers means training them on giving feedback to employees that is timely and specific. Employee feedback should be both positive and constructive to solicit faster results.
When managers understand the differences in coaching vs. managing, they have the potential to empower employees, build on their strengths, and challenge employees to stretch and grow their skills.
At BizLibrary, our managers hold prescheduled, weekly one-on-one coaching meetings with their employees. Both the manager and the employee are responsible for contributing to the agenda and are committed to utilizing these opportunities to improve performance and develop careers.
One of the advantages of meeting weekly is the frequent opportunities for managers to coach course corrections and give positive employee feedback on productive behaviors by asking open-ended, guiding questions. Managers should also pose thought-provoking requests to encourage employees to expand on their answers and to keep the dialogue flowing. These invitations to share more information could be, “Tell me more about…” or “Help me understand your thought process.”
This coaching technique allows for deeper conversations that encourage employees to come to their own realizations, and helps them to create plans to grow and improve skill sets and behaviors.
Here’s an example scenario of a manager using coaching skills and employee feedback to help improve performance and results:
A client-facing, new business development employee was astute at reaching decision makers by telephone, but was struggling with setting appointments for our account executives to hold initial conversations, which is a key metric of his position.
In weekly coaching, he and his manager listened to seven of his calls for the purpose of identifying the disconnect. Each took notes to help identify positive and negative behavioral patterns affecting outcomes. The manager began the coaching process by asking, “What positive things do you notice about your calls? What about these calls makes you feel proud?”
After building on the strengths of the employee’s positive attitude and ability to bypass gatekeepers to get the right person on the phone, the manager dug deeper. “What do you notice in common about these calls after the initial greeting?”
The employee responded that he was talking too much and needed to listen more, and that he was unintentionally interrupting the potential clients, even talking over them. Next, the manager asked, “What one or two things can you make a concerted effort to change in your calls this week to improve your call outcomes?”
The employee thought a bit and responded, “I will slow down my rate of talking and allow for pauses in the conversation, so I am not interrupting our prospects.”
After one week of diligently applying these two changes, the employee set four appointments. As they continued to work together in weekly coaching sessions, the employee grew to become the strongest appointment setter on the team!
Consistent coaching and employee feedback, followed by the application of realizations and epiphanies, are what made the difference in our employee’s performance.
If the employee worked for a company still prescribing a traditional performance review model, his poor performance metrics may have gone unchecked until review time. This would’ve cost the company thousands of dollars in lost opportunities, or his employment would have been terminated before any annual performance review came about.
We are thankful and proud of our coaching culture at BizLibrary; without it, we would have missed out on a stellar new business development employee!
Do your managers need help giving constructive employee feedback? Learn how you can develop their coaching skills with this free ebook:
Libby Mullen is the Learning & Development Manager at BizLibrary. Her favorite aspect of her role is developing employees to realize their maximum potential. Libby has over 25 years of experience in education, training, and business consultation, both in the higher education realm and in all verticals of the business sector. Building positive partnerships, solving business challenges creatively, and bringing out and developing the strengths in others are what makes Libby “tick.”