Coaching: What is it and when can it be used?

Jun 01, 2021

Coaching happens before any formal disciplinary process starts. Think of it as a quick “course correction” for a new and/or minor infraction and an opportunity to build trust with an employee. Coaching is meant to serve as quick point of feedback to help the employee continue to be successful in their role.

Some instances when coaching may be appropriate are:

  • When you notice an employee is performing a task inefficiently or incorrectly
  • When someone begins to arrive late to work after always arriving on time
  • When someone starts a pattern of arriving late to meetings

Ensure the employee understands why the issue is being addressed and why it is important. Keep it to the point and short. Ask the employee for ideas on how to improve the issue. The employee should be given an opportunity to ask if they have questions about the coaching.

I often get asked – do I need to document coaching sessions? Yes, it is a good idea to still document the coaching through a brief recap of what the issue was and how the conversation went. This way, you can have it for future reference should the issue worsen.

We offer a 5-step formula in the book – Conquer Sticky Situations – which works for addressing any type of performance management, including Coaching. Consider trying this formula the next time you need to have a quick coaching conversation:

  1. Thanks: Say thanks for them taking the time to meet with you
  2. Why: State the reason why you are meeting with them for the quick coaching and you wanted to bring it up because they are valuable to the team
  3. What: Give them examples of what you noticed (those instances which triggered this conversation)
  4. How: Ask them ideas on how they may be able to improve the issue (and suggest ideas to them for consideration if needed) – and tell them again that you value them and want them to continue to be successful in their role
  5. Close with thanks: Say thanks again for meeting and ask if they have questions about the quick discussion.


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