The Anatomy of Performance Enhancing Coaching Conversations

Don’t wait for poor performance to discuss high performance.

Make ‘getting better’ normal by scheduling bi-monthly coaching conversations. 


The anatomy of performance enhancing coaching conversation:

(Consider this list a loose structure for a coaching conversation.)

  1. Ask, “What skills/behaviors are essential for success in your role as a manager?”
  2. Write down every behavior and skill your coachee comes up with. Don’t explore the items. When they say, “Communication.” You say, “Great. And what else?” 
  3. Identify the 10 most important behaviors/skills on their list. Don’t worry about ranking them precisely. 
  4. How would you rank your proficiency on these 10 behaviors/skills? Use a scale of 1 to 10.
  5. Don’t challenge their self-assessment unless it’s wildly inaccurate. The point of the exercise is improvement.
  6. Ask them to narrow the list to three items. Suppose they said they were an ‘8’ in communication.
  7. Explore their short list.
    • What’s important about communication in your role as manager?
    • What are you doing when you’re communicating as a manager?
    • How do you want people to feel about themselves when you’re communicating with them?
    • How do you want people to feel about you when you’re communicating with them?
    • When are you most effective as a communicator?
    • When communication doesn’t work well, what are you neglecting?
  8. Work to get better. Ask, “How might you move from an ‘8’ to a ‘9’ in communication? (Don’t worry that you think they’re a ‘7’ and they think they’re an ‘8’.
    • List specific observable actionable behaviors.
    • Role-play or explain the behaviors. Suppose they would be a better communicator if they removed distractions. What distractions should be removed?
  9. Make commitments. What will you do over the next two weeks to remove distractions?
  10. Set a follow up meeting to evaluate improvement and select another item from the short list.

Effective improvement is always self-development.

What structure/questions would you suggest for coaching employees to assess and improve their own performance?

What has helped you improve your own performance?

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