Coaching and Counseling Is There a Difference

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I remember the first time that I was managing a full force of individuals and I was asked to evaluate the performance of a young woman by the name of Ivy. Unfortunately I was predisposed because I had discovered that Ivy had very poor performance skills, was typically late and was not meeting the quota goals assigned to her. It was up to me to decide whether or not she was worth keeping or terminating her employment. So, with both solutions open to for either coaching or counseling I used both forms to help increase her performance and reverse many of the poor things people were saying. In the next few moments I will provide you some information on coaching and how to use it to help those with weak into personal skills.

My belief is that all employees should be coached on an ongoing basis. It is a form of mentoring that enables ongoing dialogue between the manager and the subordinate so that feedback on performance doesn’t occur only when there is a problem. Nor should it occur and only one time of the year-the performance review. Moreover it allows for excellent work to be recognized, supported, exploited and then finally conveyed to others.

Unfortunately many managers spend 10 times more of their effort and energy counseling. The most important attributes of a coaching relationship are the following:

  1. That the dialogue is constant and ongoing. You never provide information when something goes awry. People need to have good relationships with their coaches and mentors. There must be ongoing interaction and dialogue
  2. The feedback must be timely and it has to be offered at a point where an issue. This separates the difference between a performance evaluation and periodic feedback to improve performance.
  3. It is important to understand that the manager simply coaches and mentors but the employee ultimately performs.
  4. Both sides must be approachable whenever and wherever. It is not on exclusive terms.
  5. And finally the employee must be able to be coached. Some people simply do not like the told by others how to improve performance.

Counseling is essential to improving organizational performance yet few managers ever engage systematically and most don’t effectively engage in it at all. The reason being is that many managers might believe that counseling requires too much time and effort of which they don’t have and that the employee might actually engage them in too much conflict.

Here are some simple steps to help you through the counseling process:

  1. Determine if the poor performance is caused by a lack of skills or simply a poor attitude.
  2. Focus on the behavior of the individual.
  3. Get agreement on the standard and the actual performance.
  4. Discuss the impact of the performance on others in the organization. Remember here to keep things objective never personal.
  5. Discuss the alternatives and consequences and actually have the employee, suggest some solutions.
  6. Establish action plans and dates so that the employee can be held to accountability standards.
  7. Constantly review and monitor the process.
  8. White down everything and keep accurate notes.
  9. Make decisions when necessary about future plans for the employee.

While this may seem like a very detailed plan to improve performance the sequence actually is faster than simply dealing with the issue in a casual manner or hoping that it will simply go away. The process lends itself to compliance, to human resource management and in helping you to coach your way to individuals with rotten attitudes.

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