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San Diego
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Coaching Employees Is a Varied Responsibility

Question: I seem to have difficulty coaching the very different employees who work for me. Is there some kind of magic coaching formula?


Sometimes, your employees fit into one of these four broad types:

– The Smart Slacker , This employee has been there a long time, has “retired on duty,” and no longer wants to break a sweat.

He or she knows how to do the work, but doesn’t really want to. These employees can appear to work hard when the boss is around.

They have lots of knowledge and could make a real and valuable contribution because of their history, experience and hidden skills. Motivation is the problem here.

– The Problem Child , There are two possibilities here: Employees with acute problems are good workers who develop serious off-the-job problems, or with chronic employees who have been difficult to deal with since hiring.

Employees with acute problems should be offered support, access to counseling, and an individual development or performance improvement plan.

Workers with chronic issues should be given progressive discipline, last warnings, and then, termination notices.

– The Plow Horse , This is a good worker who does the job he or she is paid to do, but without much imagination.

They lack either the ability or the desire to use creative problem solving.

They get passable evaluations and are largely happy doing what they were hired to do.

It may be that they are fearful of stress and the responsibilities that come with advancing, so they won’t look for career help.

Teaching them option thinking can help.

– The Rising Star , They are easy to delegate to, usually love more responsibility, and work hard without being asked or reminded.

They go the extra mile to earn exceptional evaluations.

It’s possible and likely that supervisors burn these people out with too much work, too much autonomy, and not enough reward. Good coaches will get them on to a career path that plays to their strengths and improves their weaknesses.

Don’t wait until the performance review process to request performance or behavioral changes.

Hold regular “personal accountability meetings,” not just during performance reviews. Script out your main points, and refer to your notes during the meeting.

How to deal with each type of employee:

– Smart Slackers: Confront their behavior, attitude or performance. Remind them of their “legacy employee” status.

Ask for their help in creating solutions you both can live with.

– Problem Children: Use your progressive discipline process. Ask them to make a stay-or-go choice, as in, “You seem unhappy here and I’m not happy with your performance. Is this a job you really want?”

– Plow Horses: Encourage them to think about options to solve problems and reward their progress, no matter how small it seems.

They will grow with more praise for their efforts in thinking outside the box.

– Rising Stars: Give them challenges, but watch for job burnout. Create a career path that offers them opportunities for advancement.

Written by Dr. Steve Albrecht, a trainer and consultant in San Diego specializing in high-risk human resources training topics and corrective coaching.


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