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Coaching One on One to Improve Individual Performance

How much time do you spend with your employees? Now think about how much dedicated time each employee receives in coaching one on one sessions, focused on their individual performance and development. In many cases, the individual attention is not on the high end of the scale. This is why many organizations and companies have adopted a cultural practice of conducting recurring one on one meetings. These meeting go by many names such as one on one's, 10/10's, etc. and the companies employing this technique are seeing wondrous results.

Early in my career, I moved from a large corporation, to a small privately held company. Like with many small companies, employee development had not yet become a focus of senior leadership. I observed under-developed low performing employees and teams across the organization and was dumbfounded as to why there wasn't more focus on employee's and ways to improve individual performance. As I began to inspect the culture, leveraging the 5 Why's, I soon realized that while managers spent a lot of time interacting with their teams, they did not spend individual time with their employees.

Because of this, individual performance as well as team performance was stagnant and employee morale was low. When faced with a change in culture, you have a number of paths to take in your reaction to it. Often times people become a part of the culture, sometimes without realizing it, but in some situations, the induction to a new culture inspires people to drive change.

What is a Coaching One on One?

At the large company I came from, people development was a great focus. In fact, our culture practically mandated that we do coaching one on one with our employees weekly or every other week. So what is a Coaching One on One? The general idea is that the employee receives dedicated coaching feedback sessions with their manager of which half the time can be dedicated to topics they'd like to discuss. The other half of the coaching session will be the manager's time to focus on ways to improve individual performance with the employee. These coaching sessions can be in any time increment but should always be conducted consistently so that the employee has an expectation of regular coaching on their individual performance.

Faced with a new culture, and one that could greatly benefit from a change in focus, I instituted Coaching One on One's with my team and began to see a change.

Rolling out Coaching One on One Sessions

If you are reading this article, you have likely never been a part of a rigorous coaching philosophy, so we'll begin by talking about how you institute Coaching One on One sessions with your team. Since this will be a culture change for your employees, it will be very important to communicate the Why's of the change. I recommend conducting a team meeting, where you explain that you plan to begin placing a greater focus on how each member of your team can begin to consistently improve individual performance. While you may have other tools you plan to use, one new tool you will share will be the Coaching One on One. Explain that this will be their time, on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis to focus on their individual performance and their individual development. Set the expectation up front that their Coaching One on One sessions will be a priority for you and will only be moved or cancelled if absolutely necessary. Remember, you want your team to understand you place an importance on their proactive development.

How do you conduct Coaching One on One Sessions?

Begin by scheduling a recurring meeting with each of your employees at a frequency you can commit to. Again, the more frequent you conduct Coaching One on One sessions, the more benefits you and your employees will see. The focus of a Coaching One on One session can vary from meeting to meeting. For your time, use it to focus on projects, performance, development, issues, administrative needs, and an overall focus on how to improve individual performance. Coaching One on One sessions are an excellent tool to provide feedback and to receive feedback. Since you will often be providing your employees with feedback on their individual performance, you will also want to request feedback on your performance and what you can do to better support them. This may not be a discussion for each Coaching One on One session, but this is a crucial step to help you continue to develop as a manager. Don't be afraid to hear a little constructive criticism!

For your employees, the Coaching One on One session can be a great opportunity to clarify goals, gain an understanding of expectations, receive feedback on ways to improve individual performance, and to discuss personal needs. A best practice for these meetings is to always let your employee go first. This lets them know that their topics for the Coaching One on One session are important and that they have the opportunity to drive the direction of the discussion.

Tools to use in your Coaching One on One Sessions

Remember a Coaching One on One session should be focused on coaching, so you will definitely want to leverage the Principles of Coaching and the IGROW Model. Having a planned approach with each of your employees will ensure that each Coaching One on One session is beneficial and inspires any changes you may be looking to see in individual performance. You may also want to leverage a Development Action Plan to document how your employees will work to further their strengths or to improve on their challenges or opportunities for improvement. Overall it is key to be consistent in your use of Coaching One on One sessions, continually focused on ways to improve individual performance, and open to feedback and new ideas so your employees feel that this is a safe time for them to learn.

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