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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Are You And Your Team Ready For Breakthrough Performance?


Does this sound like you?

You have successfully grown your business and have made multiple course corrections over the years to meet the ever-changing needs of the marketplace. You have built a strong team to help you deliver quality products and services to your customers.

Although you have had these past successes, recently you are feeling stuck, unsure of what you need to do to take your business to the next level. You now realize that you can’t do it alone anymore; you need a different mix of talent. These symptoms may also describe you:

• Your smart, talented and hardworking employees are now underperforming.
• You have made some poor hiring decisions
• You don’t know what kind of talent you need.
• Your teams are dysfunctional and productivity is dropping.
• Despite your focused coaching efforts, performance is not changing

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you may need to better align your talent with your strategy in order to position your business for Breakthrough Performance. Your overall goal is to get the right people, with the right talents, delivering the right results.

Here are some guidelines to help you get unstuck and start your journey to Breakthrough Performance:

  1. Identify the key positions in your organizations that you need to execute your strategy.
  2. Develop a success profile (performance model) for each of these key positions to include the required thinking style, behavioral characteristics, career interests and education/certifications needed.
  3. Choose an employee assessment from a reputable provider that is valid, reliable and meets or exceeds all 13 of the Department of Labor requirements.
  4. Assess all encumbents in these key positions and perform a talent gap analysis.
  5. Develop a strategic workforce plan to address the needs identified in your gap analysis deciding how best to close the gap, i.e., develop current employees, hire new employees more closely aligned with your needs, or a combination of the two.
  6. Execute your plan.

If you would like more information on aligning your talent with your business strategy, please complete the informaiton below.