Preparing for a Coaching or Counseling Session
At this point you should have filled out the checklists describing work situations that may require coaching or counseling included earlier and should know which type of session you need to conduct. Hopefully you have already analyzed whether you are dealing with a skill, motivational, or resource deficit.
Once the initial assessment is complete, you need to develop your plan of action.
Coaching/Counseling Session Checklist
For my next coaching/counseling session I will prepare by completing each of the following steps:
- Consider how many sessions will be needed, the degree of trust, and the employee's confidence level.
- Be clear about my reason for the session and define my goals.
- Review the work goals and past performance of the employee.
- Give the employee notice of the time and place.
- Allow a minimum of 30 minutes for the session.
- Remove all distractions (phone, visitors, etc.) from the meeting place.
- Remove physical barriers between myself and the employee (e.g., don't sit behind a desk).
- Write out what I plan to say and rehearse it. (Use the guidelines on the next page and on the third page following this one. You may want to keep your notes in front of you during the session to avoid the feeling of losing control.)
- Plan to take notes to document the session, and develop a record of the corrective action plans and performance improvements.
Ten Guidelines for Conducting a Successful Coaching Session
You are ready to begin a coaching session. You feel confident. You have completed the preparation detailed at the beginning of this section. Someone else will answer your phone so you can maintain focus. You are ready to listen. Your notes and pencil are in front of you. Your employee walks in. You begin the session.
- You put the employee at ease by being warm and friendly.
- You define the reason for the discussion.
- You describe the performance problem or area that needs improvement and define its impact on you, the employee, the unit, and the company.
- You acknowledge and listen to the employee's feelings.
- You seek the employee's opinion on ways to improve the performance.
- You ask open-ended questions to encourage the employee's analysis and draw out specific suggestions.
- You let the employee know that you respect her ability to solve problems and develop solutions.
- You offer suggestions when appropriate, then build on the employee's ideas when possible.
- You agree upon appropriate actions.
- You schedule a follow-up meeting to ensure accountability and provide feedback on progress (within ten days).
The session is over. You are relieved and pleased that it went so well. Congratulations!
Coaching Pitfalls to Avoid
Consequences are inevitable when you fail to prepare for a coaching session. Check those pitfalls that you have experienced.
- Manager can't determine the real problem because he did not analyze performance trends.
- Manager is unclear about what she expects in the way of changes.
- Manager doesn't have enough information and data to back up his view.
- Manager exhibits personal bias toward the employee or problem.
- Manager is inflexible about possible solutions.
- Manager loses control due to employee's hostile reaction.
- Manager becomes defensive and hostile when questioned for specific examples.
- Manager doesn't solicit the employee's suggestions or solutions.
- Manager doesn't listen to the employee's view of the problem.
- Manager fails to document evolving performance problems.
- Manager fails to hold the employee accountable in follow-up meetings.
- Manager fails to reinforce improved performance.
Ten Guidelines for Conducting a Successful Counseling Session
You are ready to begin a counseling session. You feel confident. You have completed the preparation detailed at the beginning of this section. Someone else will answer your phone so you can maintain focus. You are ready to listen. Your notes and pencil are in front of you. Your employee walks in. You begin the session.
- You put the employee at ease by being warm and friendly. You use open body language and eye contact, and physically face the person.
- You define the reason for the discussion or the performance issue that needs to be addressed if you called the session, or encourage the employee to define its purpose if she requested the session.
- You ask open-ended questions about the employee's feelings and thoughts.
- You encourage the employee to identify alternatives to solve the problem or resolve the issue.
- You seek the employee's feelings about the possible consequences of each ofthe alternatives.
- You avoid expressing your views but remain alert to instances when you can provide information on company policies that may help the employee make a decision.
- You demonstrate empathy for the employee and show confidence in his ability to solve problems.
- You provide support and/or resources when appropriate.
- You refer the employee to Human Resources and/or an employee assistance program if the problem is beyond your scope.
- You summarize key points at the end ofthe discussion to clarify and seek understanding.
Counceling pitfalls to avoid
Inadequate preparation when planning to counsel an employee can cause many problems. Check those pitfalls that you have experienced or observed.
- Manager has preconceived notions about what the real problem is.
- Manager has opinions about the employee's choices and judges the employee's decisions according to his own values.
- Manager tells the employee what she should or ought to do.
- Manager plays psychiatrist and attempts to diagnose or "treat" the employee.
- Manager downplays the employee's problem or pain by using cliches such as "don't make a mountain out of a molehill."
- Manager moves into a problem-solving mode from the start, rather than listening to the employee's feelings.
- Manager does not empathize with the employee's problems or feelings.
- Manager shifts focus to her own problems or feelings.
- Manager over-empathizes with the employee's problem or feelings, losing objectivity.
- Manager "rescues" the employee by taking responsibility for decision making away from the employee.
- Manager does not check with Human Resources, or the policy manual, for assistance in tackling problems beyond the manager's scope or skill.
- Manager has not investigated company resources such as employee assistance programs to assist in determining the real problem.