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Performance Issues? Put Performance Management and Coaching to Work for You

My two children are young adults now, but I recall times when as children they’re actions — or more frequently, their inactions — would force me to groan, throw up my hands and ask, “Why don’t they just do what I want them to do?”

I’m sure you had those days with your children. Perhaps you still have them.

I needn’t tell you there’s little as frustrating. Yet somehow, facing that same question in the workplace trumps this childrearing vexation.

“Why, oh why, don’t they just do what I want them to do?”

The question seems simple enough.

I’m sorry to say, however, that it just doesn’t work that way. You can’t simply tell someone to do something and expect it to get done.
Not children and not employees.

But think about it. Isn’t that the danger of relying solely on semi-annual performance reviews? In performance reviews, management tells employees what it sees in their work, good and bad, entreating them to try harder. 

Sure, employees need communication and feedback. I couldn’t agree more. Performance reviews have their place, but not just once a year and not in forced, awkward situations. And most important, not without follow-up or assistance with making needed changes.

Over the years, I’ve learned that performance reviews alone just don’t work that well.

What does? Combining well thought-out and carefully executed reviews with performance management and coaching.

You and I have talked about performance management and coaching previously, but now, facing mid-year reviews, is a good time to take another look.
Because the topic can be somewhat confusing, let me start by clarifying the difference between performance management and coaching.

With performance management, you help your employees set objectives for improvement and then work with them to achieve those objectives. This requires you to give concrete ideas about what to do and what to avoid.

When you coach, on the other hand, you ask people questions until they find answers themselves. Coaching facilitates someone’s thinking and gets him to use his own creativity and initiative.

And here’s the thing: In dealing with performance issues, you need both.

Look at two examples of how to balance performance management and coaching.

Example #1
Imagine you work with a professional sales person who is frustrated by his difficulties to become a well-recognized expert. Starting as coach, you might ask him to profile the people he’s selling to. Then you could ask him about the sales style that would likely appeal to these people. Switching to performance management, you might give him tips on what to do or say. And then, checking in with him regularly, you will help him analyze his progress.

Example #2
You might coach a manager by asking her to think back over her life to identify what makes her really connect with people in conversation. You can follow up by asking her how she could apply that in her managerial roles. Tilting to performance management,  you might give her tips for connecting with her charges and peers, and then meet with her regularly to help her assess how she is doing.

Do you see how you are working at two distinct levels, day-to-day performance management and continuous coaching?

The challenge is to continually fine tune the balance between the two to fit the individual you wish to help.

But the cool part? Successfully using the two in conjunction gives you effective results.

Here’s the bottom line: Focusing on performance management and coaching, your organization will enjoy improved employee engagement, performance and retention, increased productivity, and significantly improved business outcomes. Indeed, research shows that organizations with highly effective development plans have twice the revenue per employee than those without them.

Your Solution Toolbox: Help with Getting to Know Your Employees

How do you decide when to use performance management and when to use coaching?

Pardon me if I sound flip, but… It depends on your employee.

For example…
Asking me to figure out on my own how to repair the brakes on my car would be futile. I have little to no positives to build on and no amount of performance management would help.

Coaching in this situation, however, could do the trick. If you were to ask me what steps I might take to get my brakes repaired, I’d come up with several solutions, including ways to search out a good repair shop.

Clearly, this is an extreme example, but it shows that to decide which approach to take with me and when, you need to know my strengths and weaknesses. You’d also find it helpful to know what motivates me and what behaviors impede my success.

If the prospect of  understanding your employees boggles your mind, you'll be pleased to know that there are human capital management tools that make it easier than you might think. Take, for example, Profile International’s ProfileXT™.

ProfileXT™ Helps You Match Employee to Job

The ProfileXT™ is called the “Total Person Assessment” because it evaluates thinking and reasoning skills, occupational interests and behavioral traits. It helps you select as well as manage employees by predicting job suitability and accurately matching people with the work they do.

With PXT your leaders can assess current talent inventory and understand future talent demands. You will find you can use PXT successfully for:

  • initial job placement
  • evaluating the best person to promote
  • succession planning
  • coaching and self improvement

If you would like more information about ProfileXT™ or any of Profiles International’s assessments, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to
HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We’ll help you learn how to:

  • understand your workers’ strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • match people to job demands
  • increase employee performance throughout your organization

Let's Talk! We offer a no-obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures and practices. This may help determine what's missing in your current programs. Again, call 952-322-3330 or send an email to