Coaching employees is an important part of a manager's role. A manager's coaching can motivate an employee and help him develop his skills to become one of the company's greatest assets, or the coaching can deflate the employee and drive him to put in minimum effort and look for another job elsewhere.

For a manager, knowing how to craft effective coaching plans customized for individual employees is a necessary skill to master for her own career's benefit as well as the benefit of her company.

Reasons for Employee Coaching Plans

There are many reasons to create a coaching plan for employees. In some workplaces, coaching programs for employees are a standard practice. In others, they are created for individual employees when the employees’ managers feel they need hands-on guidance to become successful in their roles. A few reasons managers create coaching programs for employees include:

  • Training employees to work in their specific industry, especially when the employees came from other industries.

  • Altering the employees’ attitudes and actions to become more compatible with the workplace environment.

  • Helping the employees become more successful in their specific roles, which can mean increasing their productivity or building specific skills.

  • Grooming the employees for promotion.

Coaching Employees to Improve Performance

Every effective employee coaching plan begins with an honest assessment of the employees' current skills, strengths, weaknesses, goals and needs in the workplace. Coaching employees to improve performance requires both the coach and the employee to understand where they are starting and the steps they need to take to reach specific goals. These goals should be clear to the employee rather than ambiguous goals with room for both parties to misunderstand objectives. A few examples of good goals to build into an employee coaching plan are:

  • Make 10 sales each week.
  • Respond to every client inquiry.
  • Document every task as it is completed.
  • Resolve client disputes according to company policies.
  • Increase his team’s performance by 25 percent.

Once the employee and the coach are in clear agreement and understanding about what needs to be done, the coach should introduce an action plan. This action plan needs to include:

  • A time frame for each specific goal to be met.
  • Consequences for failure to reach goals.
  • If applicable, rewards for reaching goals.
  • A check-in schedule with the coach.

Long-Term Employee Coaching Plan Goals

Long-term goals for the employee have to be part of her coaching plan. Otherwise, the plan is useless. The whole point of the coaching plan is to develop her skills and guide her toward a specific outcome, whether that outcome is making her ready for a promotion, getting her acclimated to the company or industry in which she is now working, adapting her behavior in the workplace or helping her reach benchmarks and succeed in her current role.

Coaching programs for employees need to be upheld consistently. The coach and the employee should both be proactive about making the necessary changes written into the plan, and when the employee feels she made a mistake, or the coach sees the employee make a mistake, the pair should discuss the mistake in the context of the coaching plan’s goals and determine ways to avoid making the same mistake again.

The coaching plan’s long-term goals should be stated clearly during the first meeting between the coach and the employee and should be continually revisited once the plan is put into place. This could be during weekly, biweekly or monthly meetings, or it could be something with which she works on a daily basis, like a chart in her cubicle or a daily check-in email with the coach. At all times, reaching her goals should be a priority. In some cases, coaches make goals feel more attainable by breaking them into smaller short-term goals for the employee to work toward.

Considerations for Coaches

Coaching employees to improve performance requires self-reflection and adjustment on the coach’s part as well. During the initial discussion about the coaching plan and all subsequent check-ins, the coach should ask the employee for his input on the goals, his experience working toward them and ways to alter the coaching plan to make it more attainable.

These discussions should be equal back-and-forth exchanges of ideas rather than scenarios where the coach gives the employee orders because this can shut the employee’s mind off improvement and cause him to stop caring about his work.