Let’s define coaching in the workplace when you’re a manager.

Coaching is a purposeful, ongoing, one-to-one dialogue between a manager and the line employee for the purpose of developing skills and performance, and enhancing potential. It is distinctly different from performance assessment because it focuses on encouraging, motivating, and guiding the protégé to achieve higher goals.

If you find yourself with employees struggling to reach goals, you may be tempted to pull them over and discuss how they are missing the mark and the related consequences. However, here is where the coaching spirit should take over.

Focusing on negative aspects will only create more obstacles. If you make any discussion or feedback session feel negative, the employee may feel that his or her job is threatened. If this happens, the employee can become more fearful and this only adds to the roadblocks.

Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on progress. Tell your employee that you see progress and that you believe they are capable of making their goals. While doing that, you should to follow the ‘feedback sandwich’ technique.

This is a method of introducing feedback to your employees surrounded by praise. Start the conversation by briefly reviewing a positive aspect your employee is currently demonstrating. It could be a good attitude, a well-executed sales pitch, or something similar. Be careful not to spend too much time praising at the beginning, because your ‘meat’ – the feedback message – will be diluted. Remember, the reason you are speaking to your employee at this time is to deliver feedback. 

Next, deliver the opportunity for growth in a positive tone. Avoid accusing your employee, but remain focused on the message you need to deliver. Finally, close the feedback session on a positive note by praising the employee on a strength he/she has, or tell them that you are confident they are going to adjust and be successful. This helps the employee overcome the embarrassment that can be associated with receiving feedback.

Speaking positively expands the employees’ belief about themselves. Hence, use encouraging phrases like:

  • You showed definite improvement since our last discussion. I am confident you are going to hit this goal 
  • Your progress is steady and you are showing promise  
  • I know you are not quite there yet, but you managed to improve this much in such a short amount of time

It is easy to speak to the positive aspects of progress. The benefits of focusing on progress could reap the following:

  • Increased communication between you and your employee
  • Build trust
  • Increase motivation
  • Goal is reached
  • Employee’s confidence is boosted

If you are a manager, rest assured that if you speak positively, then positive things come back, but if you speak negatively, eventually you will get a negative reaction.