The top 3 performance criteria to coach employees on
Coaching is an opportunity to support your employees in their professional growth
Developing a high-performance team or organization begins with having the right people in the right seats on the bus, as Jim Collins wrote in “Good to Great.” To be the right person, you must live the company’s values, and to be in the right seat, you must have the skills to be a high performer in your position.
To be a high-performance leader or manager, you must hold team members (who are the right people in the right seats) accountable. Having quarterly coaching conversations that focus on three most important performance areas with your team members is an outstanding way to do this. They can be pretty chill, unless there’s a major performance issue that needs addressing.
Depending on how well you know the person, begin with something such as: “How are things going?” Then focus the conversation on three performance areas: (1) living the company’s values, (2) executing on the person’s major roles and (3) completing their quarterly priorities. Have team members give their perspective before you give yours.
1. Company values
Coach team members on the company’s values, and hold them accountable to living them — this creates your business culture. Many companies have a defined set of values, but most employees don’t even remember what they are — and they certainly aren’t regularly coached and held accountable to live them. If they were, they’d either live the values well or exit the company because they don’t fit the culture.
I never forgot a culture lesson I learned early in my career from a successful entrepreneur whom I’ll call “Pete.” Pete was normally happy and upbeat, but not this day. He walked slowly and somberly into my office, looking defeated with his head hanging low, he sat down and stared at the floor. Here’s our conversation:
Me: “Pete, how are you doing? You don’t look like your normal happy self.”
Pete: Still looking down at the floor. “I hate working at my company!”
Me: My mind swirled; I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. How could the owner of a successful company hate working at his own company? I collected my thoughts and uttered, “Why?”
Pete: “The culture. People blame, complain, make excuses, are constantly negative and even stab each other in the back. I hate being there — I wanna sell it!”
Pete was personable, easy to like and treated everyone well, which is why this was so puzzling. As we talked, it became clear that during the 15 years he built his company, he never defined and took control of his culture, and a couple of toxic individuals were now forming it.
Sadly, over the three decades I’ve coached entrepreneurs, I’ve heard similar stories more times than I can count. Developing, coaching and holding employees accountable to a set of values is significantly undervalued and is actually necessary to create a high-performance team. If you manage people, think about how valuable it would be to evaluate and coach them quarterly on the values.
2. Major roles
Every seat in the organization’s accountability chart is defined with 3–7 major roles. During quarterly coaching, evaluate with team members how well they carry out these roles. Acknowledge everything they’re doing well. If they’re struggling, coach them up and help them correct issues.
3. Quarterly priorities (rocks)
Define the quarter’s 3–7 most important priorities, or rocks, a term the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) uses that originated with Stephen Covey. Rocks are defined each quarter at the leadership team level (for the company) and then each team in the company creates rocks (for that team). This alignment provides laser focus organization wide on accomplishing the vision … quarter by quarter.
Coaching is an opportunity to support your employees in their professional growth. When you coach, be courageous — give pure, honest, direct feedback that helps your team members know what they’re doing well and how to keep improving.
Imagine your company with everyone living the values, being great at executing their major roles and completing on their quarterly rocks. I’ll bet that’s a company you’d love working at!
TC North, Ph.D. coaches leadership teams to become high-performers. He is co-author of the best-selling book, Fearless Leaders, a Professional EOS® Implementer, high-performance executive coach for entrepreneurs, international speaker and Techstars All-Star Mentor/Coach. In recent years he has helped two entrepreneurs go from frustration and flat revenues to become members of the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the US.