The Benefits of Employee Coaching Don't think you have time to coach your employees? You could be harming your company by ignoring this important task.

Everyone's heard the old saying, "The squeaky wheelgets the grease." In a fast-paced work environment, where thefocus is on getting a product out the door or resolving customerissues, the same attitude is usually taken about coaching. Coachingis often viewed as necessary only when employee performance isunbearably poor or when employees are so discouraged they leave.For entrepreneurs, who often have smaller staffs and budgets,coaching may also seem like an unnecessary expense.

Among these misperceptions about coaching, you may also be abusiness owner who thinks you're too busy with your own work tospend extra time training, communicating or boosting employeemorale, but consider this: Your leadership can help createmotivated, productive employees. These high-performance employeeswill, in turn, lighten your workload. And while you're at it,also consider the benefits of formal and informal employeedevelopment tools, such as monthly, quarterly or annual performanceappraisals and planned performance improvement sessions which areused by highly successful companies to bring out the best in theiremployees.

Before developing and implementing new coaching methods, askyourself if your company has a work environment that welcomescoaching. Are employees encouraged to share their questions,concerns, opinions and ideas, or does your company have amanagement style that operates in a more autocratic,non-participatory manner?

After ensuring that your company is open to coaching, make sureany managers in your company know how to coach properly. The mosteffective leaders, coaches and mentors ensure that they'reapproachable, active listeners and growth facilitators and thatthey guide employees as needed.

Coaching that works consists of constructive, consistentfeedback aimed at increasing awareness and resulting in improvedperformance. Constructive, consistent feedback can be adopted intoa company's culture as a systematic approach to employeedevelopment. Then once coaching's been established as part ofyour company's work culture, opportunities for coaching need tobe identified. These opportunities are often simply managers andsupervisors taking advantage of occasions, both formal andinformal, to coach. The best leaders more easily identify theseoccasions by familiarizing themselves with employees' workhabits, performances, goals and motivations.

Taking advantage of appropriate informal opportunities to coachalso takes the stress out of coaching. It trains leaders to managetheir time more effectively by capitalizing on opportunities toreward, encourage and direct performance outcomes during the normalcourse of any workday, while relying on the business's formalplanned processes to review progress and set planning sessions,performance measures and expectations for the future.

Remember, too, that coaching is important not only whenthere's concern about poor performance or when performance isat its peak, but when performance is somewhere in the middle. Giventhe fact that the majority of employee performance ratings occursomewhere between outstanding and poor, this "in between"range is where coaching can have its greatest impact.

Retaining top talent and boosting employee morale are vital toyour company's success. So rather than waiting for things to gowrong, or accepting subpar performance, it's important thatemployees receive ongoing performance feedback, or interimcoaching, because if you want better employees, you just might haveto make them.

Mary Massad is the director of HR product development forAdministaff, a leading personnel management companythat serves as a full-service human resources department forthousands of small and medium-sized businesses throughout theUnited States. For additional HR information, visit HR PowerHouse, anHR website powered by Administaff.

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