Coaching Interviews are sometimes performed by someone in the Human Resources function, but they typically fall to the manager of a group to perform them. These interviews are a unique animal in the types of interviews. They are the only interview that is done for an employee with the express purpose of improvement without discipline. These interviews are often provided to newer employees, but really should be expanded to all employees of any age or experience level. The goal of these interviews is to find out what an employee needs and how to help them get it. Sometimes the employee needs career growth; a manager will be able to help guide them and give them ideas about their next steps. Other times, you will find out what an employee is missing a tool or skill that would help them complete their current job better. This can help you as a manager or HR rep find new ways of assisting them.
As always, it is a great idea come prepared. Prepare a list of questions ahead of time. Every employee is different, so it is natural that the questions will differ from person to person. However, even with this in mind, it would be best to have a standard set of developmental questions that you ask of all of your employees to ensure that you are not being bias for or against any individual employee. When performing a Coaching Interview, feel free to take notes and document your meetings with your employees. One suggestion is that you keep your note-taking brief, as you do not want to “spook” your employee into thinking this positive time for improvement is secretly an opportunity for you to document their action for later discipline. When booking a room for these Coaching Interviews, since you never know what kind of personal information might come out, it might be best to use a private room instead of a public space.
Remember your goal is to develop your resources. Part of this is making sure the employee knows what is expected of them. While Coaching Interviews are not intended to be disciplinary in nature and should never be mixed with Counseling Interviews or Performance Evaluation Interviews (more on that in a future post), it is important to provide the employee with the benchmarks that they will be judged against. In providing them with the benchmarks for satisfactory performance, it may be most useful to give them goals with specific numbers. Why use a generic benchmark like, “Sales reps need to bring in money” when a specific benchmark will motivate them better; “Sales reps need to produce $30,000 in revenue per month”.
These interviews are an opportunity for managers to find out what makes an employee tick. You can find out what best motivates them. Then managers can give gentle suggestions as to which areas could use improvement. Positive motivation without the threat of negative disciplinary action is what you want to aim for. Challenge and excite your employees. You want to foster a good working relationship based in mutual respect looking towards professional growth, not create a culture of fear.
Another aspect of the Coaching Interview that is frequently overlooked is the opportunity to give thanks and compliment the employee for the good things that they are doing. It always seems to be easier to criticize than to praise, but managers would do their workforce a great service by motivating them with it. When you are providing compliments or praise, be sure to get specific. A generic “good job” attaboy will not let the employee distinguish between what they have done right and what might need improvement. Try to be specific with your praise, telling the employee exactly the item that you are referring to. An example might be, “Tom, you are really doing a great job picking up the phone and reaching out to more customers this month. You have called and spoken to 139 clients, which is far above the average of 72.” In this example, a generic, “Good job, Tom” could have left Tom in the dark as to what he had done right. Thank the employee for what they do too. Let them know that you value them as an employee and you appreciate their work.
And remember all of you Human Resources professionals: Be Human... Be a Resource... Be a Resource for Humans.
The views expressed in this post are by the author Trevor Stasik, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any employer or any other organization. Please note, this information is based on my understanding and is only to be used for informational and educational purposes. Do not take what I am writing as advice. Seek your own legal counsel and/or see a tax accountant before making business or personal decisions. The author of this post makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.