Coaching for Performance | John Whitmore

Summary of: Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose: The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership
By: John Whitmore


Dive into the world of effective coaching and leadership with John Whitmore’s book, Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose. This book summary highlights the importance of developing your department’s resources and the crucial role that employee performance plays in your success as a manager. You’ll learn how to effectively manage employees’ behavior through specific interventions, and how to overcome natural impulses that could impede progress. The summary also sheds light on praise and recognition as powerful motivators, and how the art of communication impacts success in the workplace.

The Art of Coaching for Managers

Managers who coach their employees to perform succeed in their roles by developing all their department’s resources. Coaching is a skill set and managers who don’t learn it professionally often end up with counterproductive results. To be successful and recognized as an effective manager, training, managing behavior and providing timely specific interventions to employees is essential to improve employees’ performance. A manager must strive to help their employees meet their full potential and specific tasks to achieve the required outcomes. Ultimately, it is in a manager’s best interests to ensure the success of their employees.

The Cost of Problematic Employees

“Problem” employees can be a drain on a company’s resources, but replacing them also comes at a significant cost. Instead of immediately firing them, managers should invest time and resources into rehabilitating and modifying their behavior. This requires a focus on behavior-specific interventions and avoiding personal discussions that may not be relevant to the job. Managers should also consider the employee’s perception of positive and negative consequences and provide timely, specific praise for good performance. Doing so can turn poor performers into good ones and improve overall company performance.

Effective Communication Strategies

Communication is not just about sharing information but about transferring thoughts as well. To get employees to think like you, provide the right stimuli that align with your thoughts. A mistake in identifying the cause of unsatisfactory performance can lead to an incorrect solution. The key to effective communication is asking questions and allowing time for listeners to process and come to their conclusions. Storytelling is a useful tool to get the point across. It is essential to confirm comprehension by getting listeners to reiterate your thoughts. Remember, how you perceive consequences may differ from the individual receiving them, so it’s vital to understand their perspective. With these effective communication strategies, one can successfully transfer thoughts to others and achieve desired outcomes.

Effective Feedback for Managers

Managers often fail to provide specific feedback, assuming that employees know what is expected of them. However, many employees are unaware of how they measure up and may not even realize that their performance is lacking. The manager’s duty is to manage people’s behavior within the restricted parameters of the business environment. Effective feedback should be delivered in a neutral tone to help poor performers change. Asking questions like “Are you aware that…?” can draw attention to a concern that the employee may not have realized is a problem. The first step is to build awareness using neutral feedback, followed by monitoring the subsequent behavior. If performance does not change, a second dose of neutral feedback can be given. Resolving non-performance issues is often straightforward and easy with one or two neutral feedback statements.

Improving Employee Performance

To correct nonperformance, managers should coach employees with specific interventions. Many assume inadequate workers simply perform badly by choice, but this is often untrue. The main reasons behind nonperformance are often lack of clarity or training. Additionally, employees may not comprehend the importance of their tasks, or wrongly believe they are meeting expectations. Obstacles may include personal issues, unrealistic expectations, and fear of negative consequences, among others. Addressing these obstacles and offering positive reinforcement for a job well done can lead to marked improvements in employee performance.

Effective Behavior Management Coaching

A five-step approach to behavior management can help coaches effectively manage employees. Before coaching, analyze the problem and avoid any judgments, opinions, or assumptions that may influence nonperformance. The first step is to get employees to acknowledge the existence of a performance problem. This coaching session should be a discussion, not a lecture, and coaches should ask questions to help employees reach their own conclusions about their work. Until employees acknowledge their problems, their behavior will not change. Coaches should work with employees to list the results of nonperformance and convince them to admit their issues aloud. The consequences of nonperformance should be listed, and employees need to understand that they can control their behavior, but their decisions limit the coach’s alternatives. Once employees acknowledge the impact of nonperformance and admit to their problems, the second step can be taken. With practice, this five-step approach can improve coaching results.

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