Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Coaching to Address a Leader's Performance Problem

Here are 8 steps to best use coaching to address a leader's performance problem.

In today's environment, every member of the leadership team needs to be functioning at their best. Dismissal and replacement is costly, finding star players even more so. Coaching has proven to be a cost effective intervention in returning critical contribution leaders to full form.

While much less leadership or executive coaching today is remedial, occasionally there is a need to address sagging performance. There may be several contributing factors to explain why a leader isn't doing as well as expected. Coaching will give them the opportunity to address their behavior and begin once again to move in a more positive and contributory direction.

  1. Have a conversation with the the leader, expressing your belief that they have the capacity to change their behavior in order to improve their performance. Otherwise you wouldn't be suggesting that they work with a coach. Be very clear about those things which you wish to see addressed and gain their agreement to work with a coach.

  2. In determining the appropriate professional, have a complete and candid conversation with the coach, outlining the objectives you are seeking the leader to accomplish and any other expectations that you have of the coaching engagement. Discuss confidentiality and reporting. Make sure you understand the coach's ways and means of tracking and addressing the client's progress. Talk about how you will be kept informed and how the coaching agreement is structured. Discuss the value and administration of any useful assessments.

  3. Have a three-party meeting: yourself, the leader and the coach. Review the objectives, putting on record those things that you wish the leader to work toward. Allow the coach to outline the nature of the relationship. Make sure all three of you agree on the game plan for moving forward. Express your confidence in and support for the leader.

  4. Let coaching have its effect. Most change takes some time. Good coaching and the results it produces are not forced. It works by helping the person see themselves and their situation clearly and knowing what to do next to advance personal, professional and performance goals. During the engagement the client will get over a critical hump. They will become clear about what needs to happen and they will begin to gain momentum from there on in.

  5. Engage the leader in a periodic review to assess how they feel they are doing with coaching. Talk with them about the progress they feel they are making. Discuss their plans for their ongoing committment. Fill out any observation and tracking forms that the coach has suggested. Review those with the leader and send them to the coach. They agreed to pursue certain objectives and where you see progress it is only right that you nurture it and let the leader know that you have observed that progress in them.

  6. Toward the end of the engagement, it is time to make a determination if the return that you are getting warrants the continuation of coaching. Perhaps the leader has improved performance and surpassed expectations and with the benefit of coaching could achieve even more. In this case the return on investment warrants continued coaching.

  7. From any administered assessments, seek to understand the behavioral style of that leader, how you can best communicate with them, motivate them and assist them to develop latent capacity for further responsibility. Have the coach help you understand this critical leadership development information.

  8. Adopt a coach approach with this leader, where you will periodically meet to review their personal development goals. Learn from the coach how to use a 'coach approach' with this leader. Learn how to ask good questions that can give them greater clarity and further momentum. The 'coach approach' is best learned by being coached yourself. So this may be an opportune time for you to engage coaching for your own growth and the greater benefit of the organization. Never assume that you have arrived and that you have no further capacity for growth, creative thinking and even better planning, execution and action.

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