Jim and his boss had worked together for so long that most of their conversations contained a blend of casual and professional conversation. However, recently, Jim’s work had begun to slip and his boss was in need of directly addressing what he viewed as performance issues. He needed to coach Jim or what was going to become necessary sooner than later, was a conversation about where Jim was going to be working next.
Coaching and having a quick “chat” may have more in common than you once thought. In fact, the CHAT™ Model is one you can use to provide effective coaching to a team member who is in the early stages of performance decline. Also note, that leaders, when you use this model your results will likely be positively contagious!
So, to begin your use of the CHAT™ Coaching model, follow these steps with that team member you have the privilege of leading:
What is the desired outcome of your conversation and coaching session? What is it you want this employee to commit to doing different, thinking differently about, or demonstrating differently? If you don’t know what you are looking for specifically and clearly, it will be nearly impossible to ask that employee to change their behavior or performance to what you want.
Notice the use of the word conversation. This is a more casual setting with two way dialogue and is appropriate when you are in the early stages of performance discussions. If this person has a long history of poor performance, it’s likely that a casual conversation has passed its point of usefulness. When things just begin to decline, take the time to have a conversation and share your expected commitment and need and then move to step 3.
Much as a good sales person always asks for the order, leaders must ASK for the employee’s commitment to do better. If you don’t ask, but assume, you may find they really didn’t get what you wanted or your message. Be clear, have a desired outcome, talk about it, and then ask them if they are willing to commit to making that change and by when. If you don’t ever ask, you will never know if they are really hearing you or in agreement with the change. Without those two elements, things will likely stay the same, leading you to have this conversation again soon and on a more serious note.
Most people don’t like to change what they are doing. In fact, we’re wired not to, so if you get someone to agree to and commit to making a change, however small, say thank you to them. In some ways, you are thanking them in advance for their new behavior, but at a minimum you are recognizing their good intentions and showing appreciation for their willingness. Both will go a long way to helping them stay motivated to make the change, particularly if they feel you know and have noticed that it takes extra effort on their part.
So, that’s all you have to do. Have a CHAT™, but with a purpose, and look forward to watching the behavior modify and performance improve. Those deviations from performance caught in the very early stage have the greatest chance of changing. Otherwise, it’s like trying to ask a cruise ship to flip a “U-ie” in the ocean. Take the time to make simple course corrections as the leader, or captain, and avoid the procrastination of performance improvement. It’s much easier to change direction early on than to turn the whole boat around later on and often it just requires some Contagious Coaching™ in the form of a chat.
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