The Nine-Step Approach to Start Coaching

Nationals v Braves, 2012

High-Visibility Coaching

Conflict-averse supervisors know that holding others accountable is a difficult part of their job. When someone isn’t doing their work as expected, it’s your job to provide the guidance to get them back on track. Ignoring the problem just makes it worse.

If you find yourself supervising others who aren’t performing as expected and are out of ideas on what to do next, then try the 9-step coaching analysis process offered by Ferdinand F. Fournies, consultant and author of the book, Coaching for Improved Work Performance, first published in 1978.

I’ve been a supervisor for more than 10 years, and have participated in many hours of supervision and leadership training programs, and yet it didn’t even occur to me that there might be useful steps out there for working through a performance problem other than motivation theories. I learned about these nine steps while learning about human resource development theory and practices.

Here’s the quick version of the nine steps:

  1. Identify the unsatisfactory employee performance.
  2. Is it worth your time and effort to address?
  3. Do subordinates know that their performance is not satisfactory?
  4. Do subordinates know what is supposed to be done?
  5. Are there obstacles beyond the employee’s control?
  6. Does the subordinate know how to do what must be done?
  7. Does a negative consequence follow effective performance?
  8. Does a positive consequence follow nonperformance?
  9. Could the subordinate do it if he or she wanted to?

These steps don’t assume anything as they attempt to identify the source of the problem. Instead, each step examines the problem from a new perspective. Some of the steps are intuitive but it’s unlikely that you have tried these steps as systematically as presented here.

Work through the steps and take appropriate actions as you go. You may find that the performance problem is fixed at any step along the way.

To learn more about Fournies’ practical coaching views—including what to do if these nine steps do not improve performance—read the book or visit his website.

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