Make the Most of Your Employee Coaching Time: 5 Tips for Better Feedback & Results

Do your employees know where they stand?

Maybe more importantly, do you know where you stand with your employees? In a historically tight labor market, when A-list talent is either occupied or unavailable almost to a person, that’s no idle question.

If you’re being honest with yourself, the answer to both questions is probably some version of “not entirely.” The next question, of course, is what’s to be done about it.

The employee coaching sessions you’re hopefully holding already harbor part of the solution. Here’s how to make the most of these one-on-ones — and why you should start them if you’ve been holding out.

1. Maintain an Open-Door Policy

First, make it clear to your team that senior management at your company will abide by an open-door policy. Some CEOs give out their personal phone numbers; you don’t need to go that far. But do make it clear to employees that they can go around the chain of command when warranted. They won’t abuse it.

Why does this matter for coaching efficiency? Because it creates the expectation of honesty and free exchange throughout the year, readying employees to be fully transparent and forthcoming during the review.

2. Use Performance Management Software 

Employee ratings do more harm than good for morale, but they are supportive of performance. If and when removed from the HR process, they need to be replaced.

Replace them with performance management software, suggests Kris Duggan, a serial entrepreneur with more than a decade of hard-won hiring experience. His thinking: PM software enables frequent, data-rich feedback while improving organizational alignment. Call it coaching on the go.

3. Deliver Feedback Through a Purpose-Driven Lens

Goal science is increasingly clear that employees perform better when they have a sense of purpose. Whether they use PM software that automates this function or choose to highlight purpose in traditional one-on-one coaching conversations, managers need to recognize that employees want to understand why their work matters, not just why it needs to be done.

4. Don’t Rely Entirely on the Annual Performance Review

The annual performance review is useful for resetting expectations and delivering detailed, actionable feedback. But it’s not enough on its own. A lot can change in a year, after all. Use the annual review as an opportunity to summarize the year’s coaching activity, but don’t rely on it alone.

5. Use the Objectives and Key Results Framework to Set and Measure Goals, But Not to Set Compensation

The increasingly popular objectives and key results framework is a useful coaching tool, specifically for setting and measuring goals at the team level. Incorporate it into your coaching processes and annual review routine, by all means. Just don’t use it to calculate bonuses, as this can put employee pay at the mercy of forces well beyond their control.

Get More From Your Employee Coaching Sessions

A one-on-one employee coaching session is not the time to air grievances or make unreasonable demands. It’s the time to set or reset expectations and gather critical subjective data that informs the business decisions you’ll make in the months that follow, including personnel moves.

You shouldn’t waste a minute of it. And, if you’re able to use these timeworn strategies to get more out of it, you won’t have to worry about that.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.