Why it’s Time to Adopt a Coaching Style to Managing Employee Performance

By Natanya Rutstein


The latest trends in performance management have seen a move in the direction of continuous feedback and coaching, replacing the more formal bi-annual performance review meetings. Whereas traditional performance management focuses on past performance and is often negative, frequent and in the moment one-to-one coaching conversations have shifted the focus to the enhancement of employee skills, knowledge and work performance. According to the State of the South African Training Industry Report forty-five percent of organisations surveyed use coaching to support their talent management strategies.

 Characteristics of a coaching conversation

Despite the lack of agreement on the exact definition of coaching, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) there are some generally agreed characteristics of coaching in organisations:

  • It’s essentially a non-directive form of development.
  • It focuses on improving performance and developing an individual.
  • Personal factors may be included but the emphasis is on performance at work.
  • Coaching activities have both organisational and individual goals.
  • It provides people with the opportunity to better assess their strengths as well as their development areas.
  • It’s a skilled activity, which should be delivered by people who are trained to do so. This can be line managers and others trained in coaching skills. https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/people/development/coaching-mentoring-factsheet)

Benefits of a coaching approach

The benefits of adopting a coaching approach to managing employee performance extend beyond employees to include managers, the team and ultimately the organisation. It’s a win-win blueprint! To name just a few:

Relationship BuildingThe increased communication between manager and employee will no doubt strengthen their relationship with the manager developing a more in-depth understanding of the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. This in turn will result in more targeted development interventions.

Self-Awareness and Development – Employees develop greater self-awareness of their own abilities and development needs. Coaching exposes them to new perspectives and challenges them to learn how to solve their own problems. Enhanced confidence and assertiveness in dealing with colleagues should follow naturally.

Organisational Performance – A greater focus on employee development and growth results in improved performance with higher levels of satisfaction and engagement. The benefit of this enhanced capability will impact positively organisational performance and the achievement of strategic goals and objectives.

The 2020 CIPD Learning and skills at work survey found that that line managers have the greatest responsibility for coaching their employees. With coaching increasingly being recognised as an essential management and leadership skill there is no time to waste in equipping your managers with the necessary tools to support them in having these regular and in the moment coaching conversations. In my next blog I will share some of these tools with you.

Natanya Rutstein
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