First line supervisors have the most impact the development of their employees. While employee training programs provide ideas and tactics that have worked for others, taking action on those ideas or tactics happens away from the training class. This is where the supervisor steps in. Supervisors with strong skills in coaching take the value of employee training classes and make them real by supporting new actions and behavior in their staff.
Coaching as a supervisory skill is a matter of getting to the heart of what limits or blocks performance. There are two possible issues that block employee performance. A supervisor coach accurately discerns where the issue is and takes actions to development the employee accordingly.
The first potential block to performance is lack of skill. Skill deficiencies can either be technical or qualitative. Technical skills often include being proficient in the implementation of common or standard procedures; as well as include a broad knowledge base of the area as well. Examples of technical skills include proficiency in accounts receivable processing, visual marketing, customer service, travel arrangements, etc..
Qualitative skills have less specific role focus and are less process oriented. Examples of qualitative skills include resilience, trust and relationship building and influencing. Employee development in these areas impacts the relative effectiveness of being part of a team, taking right action and getting results with the support of others.
The second potential block or limitation to performance is when your staff knows the steps or actions to take and chooses not to because they don’t think they can or should. Beliefs about an action or interaction can affect both what gets done as well as its quality of performance.
An effective supervisor coach asks the right questions to get to the core of an issue. If you are a supervisor coach and want to identify the best course of action for employee performance issues, here’s a list of questions you might consider.
To determine if training on a technical skill is appropriate:
Ask your employee to walk you through the steps to complete a task, or ask him/her to write out the procedure to document your processes. This can show you what a person would do or knows about the task to be completed.
To determine if the block is based on a belief, ask questions like ‘what do you think about doing this’; or ‘how do you feel about doing this?’. Do you think this is the right thing or the best thing to do?’; or ‘do you think you should do this?’ or do you think you can do this?’.
To determine if it is qualitative skill issue, you can ask questions like ‘tell me what you would do to build trust or build a certain relationship’. If you think it is a resilience issue, you could ask ‘tell me about a time when you had a big set-back, what did you do?’.
Supervisor coaches improve the performance of their teams by clearly understanding what is getting in the way of their staff get reach their potential.
Image courtesy of h.koppdelaney