• Jim Canfield

Coaching Business Winners



All employees want to know how they’re doing, which is why scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with your key people and direct reports are critical. The point of these coaching sessions is to provide feedback, give recognition, and assess what resources you can provide to help them accomplish their objectives. There are three types of coaching sessions, each correlating with the performance of the employee.


Coaching Session Type 1: High Performers


As managers, we spend so much time on problems that meeting individually with our top performers—employees who are ahead of their goals or who generally achieve their goals and objectives—can fall through the cracks. Or we assume that they don’t need our help or that they work better when we just leave them alone. But everyone wants to know how their performance aligns with your expectations, so don’t deny them this feedback.


In your meetings with high performers, you’ll review where they stand on their top priorities, providing encouragement, support, and resources as needed. Chances are that the opportunity to meet one-on-one with you and to hear you sing their praises will spur your top performers to even greater heights.


Coaching Session Type 2: Employees Needing Improvement


A different type of coaching session is in order for your employees who, although headed in the right direction, are delivering below-par results or widely fluctuating results. Up and down performance typically occurs when an employee is new to a role or when an experienced employee is having trouble adapting to changing market conditions.


In either case, you’ll need to be more hands-on. In addition to reviewing these employees’ priorities, ask for details on the tactics and actions they’re planning to meet expectations. Confirm that they’re working on the right priorities, and listen carefully to their planned actions before sharing your recommendations.


You have two opportunities in this conversation. The first is to determine if their instincts about how to address the issue are in line with yours. If so, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically endorse their plan and praise their insight. Your cheerleading will increase their confidence, and they’ll attack their plan with renewed vigor.


The second opportunity is to test their will to take the action they’ve suggested. As the famous productivity author, David Allen, says, “There is a big difference between knowing and doing.” So don’t assume that because they have a solid plan to address their deficiencies, they have the resolve to complete it. They may need outside resources, for example, a contracted performance coach. Trust your instincts on this.


Coaching Session Type 3: Underperformers


Employees who are underperforming typically lack either will or skill. Employees who lack skill may take the right actions but not deliver the desired results. This could be a training issue. Something about the way they’re executing might be blocking their success.

Consider the salesperson who makes the right number of calls but isn’t closing business. There’s almost always some technique—either its presence or its absence—that’s causing them to fail. Training, role-playing, and joint calls can reveal the problem, and you can help put them on a better path.


A lack of will on the part of an employee is an attitude issue that requires a much higher level of supervision—perhaps even daily progress reports to measure any changes in results. But if an unmotivated employee can’t do the job and can’t conclude that the job isn’t a good fit, you’ll have to make the point in clear and unambiguous language.

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