Coaching For Breakthrough Performance Vs. Performance Reviews

BreakthroughLeadership  Performance coaching is a key change leadership tool and essential to achieve breakthrough performance.  Performance reviews are a key management tool.  My experience as an executive coach, leadership development consultant and HR professional would suggest that there is general agreement that performance reviews are needed as an important component of the overall performance management process.  That is not to suggest that managers and leaders enthusiastically embrace performance reviews, but they do begrudgingly agree that they are needed.

However, when the subject of coaching for breakthrough performance is brought up in my conversations with clients I very often get a blank, or confused stare.  They either view performance reviews as synonomous with coaching, or they just don’t understand what I am suggesting.  Allow me to start this discussion by providing you with my definition of coaching for performance and how it is different from performance reviews.

Coaching for performance is a development process.  Its primary objective is to help employees grow, learn new skills and competencies.  It is either focused on doing their current job better, the proverbial taking it to the next level, or helping them prepare for another job.  Performance reviews on the other hand, are designed to evaluate the individual performance compared to expectations, provide them with a performance rating, and ultimately provide the basis for compensation decisions. Coaching is focused on the future, while performance feedback is focused on the past.  It is really a question of the primary objective of the process.  Ken Blanchard, famous author and leadership expert, is quoted as saying, “People want help getting an A (coaching), they don’t want you to grade their papers! (performance feedback)”

If you agree that coaching for performance is an important part of your overall performance management process, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Invest the time to help your employees develop specific development goals, separate and distinct from their business goals.
  2. Each employee should have a maximum of three development goals, too many goals are not sustainable.
  3. The concept of SMART goals is certainly applicable with development goals.  Each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
  4. Be sure to keep your coaching discussions separate from your performance feedback discussions recognizing that there is overlap.  You need to demonstrate that you are sincerely interested in helping them grow, not just evaluating their performance.
  5. Performance coaching should be viewed and practiced as a process, not an event.  Coaching should be done throughout the year, and often will be no more than a brief and focused discussion for 5-10 minutes.

Stay tuned for more on SMART Goals!

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