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    Coaching for Peak Performance
Quick Tips

Use the person's own ideas for his or her work performance.
  • Show sincere interest in hearing what the person has to say.
  • Express confidence in the person’s ability to come up with ideas.
  • Acknowledge all good ideas.
  • Try to use parts of an idea, even if the entire idea isn't workable.
  • Pose open-ended questions to spark the discovery of alternative approaches.
  • Concentrate on what the person is saying, not on what you'll say next.
Focus the discussion on facts, not on motivations.
  • Refer to documented performance data as much as possible.
  • Focus on what the person specifically said or did; don't guess at motives or make assumptions.
  • Use examples of the behavior you've observed to support your position.
  • Set aside hearsay and rumors until you’ve had a chance to determine their validity.
  • Ask the person specific questions to obtain additional information.
Specify what was said or done and why it was or was not effective.
  • Describe the impact of the person's performance on people, productivity, and profitability.
  • Point out which actions the person should repeat and why it's important to do so.
  • Compare current work performance to goals so the person can see what adjustments he or she needs to make to be successful.
Give feedback as soon as possible after an event occurs.
  • Provide feedback right away, if possible, to ensure the details you give are as accurate as possible.
  • Be diligent when following up so that the person can make adjustments before facing a similar situation.
  • Try to redirect the person in enough time for him or her to make changes and make a positive impact.
Balance developmental feedback with positive feedback.
  • Take opportunities to provide positive feedback along with your developmental feedback to help not only maintain but enhance self-esteem.
  • If possible, try to provide more positive reinforcement than suggestions for improvement.
  • Either provide or together generate alternatives to help the person know what to do with your feedback and develop an action plan.
  • Help them understand why the alternatives should lead to enhanced performance to encourage the person to follow through on your suggestions.

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Demotivating people.
When you respond to people in a way that damages their self-esteem:
  • They might doubt themselves and become less likely to want to succeed.
  • It could discourage them from getting involved in improving their performance.
  • You could instill resentfulness and anger.
  • A team player might turn into a "lone ranger," that is, someone who won't contribute to the team and might even work to undermine it .
Pushing your own solutions.
When you try to steer people toward your way of thinking:
  • They might avoid taking part in a coaching discussion or seeking coaching from you.
  • They might be reluctant to offer their ideas for taking on a new assignment or task.
  • They might not be willing to go along with other ideas you might have, even if they are good ones.
  • They won't be committed to improving their work habits.
Saying a person did something well when you don't believe it.
If you provide positive feedback that you don't believe in:
  • You'll seem insincere or, worse, dishonest.
  • The person might think you're being manipulative.
  • The person might wonder about your real motives for providing the feedback.
  • Your credibility will suffer.
Using words like always and never.
If you use these words when giving your feedback:
  • You'll sound like you're describing a long-standing performance trend.
  • The person might get angry with you for not providing the feedback sooner.
  • The person will think his or her overall performance unacceptable, not just in the particular instance you're describing.
  • It could cause the person to become demoralized.
Giving only developmental feedback.
If you don't balance developmental feedback with positive feedback, the person might:
  • Resent it.
  • Begin to doubt his or her abilities.
  • Become frustrated and demoralized.
  • Feel as if he or she can't do anything right.
  • Fear making more mistakes.
Giving only positive feedback.
If you don't balance positive feedback with developmental feedback, the person might:
  • Miss opportunities to become even better.
  • Think you're being dishonest.
  • Become overconfident and, as a result, make mistakes.

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Articles and Books


Ahrend, G., Diamond, F., & Gill Webber, P. (2010, July). "Virtual Coaching: Using Technology to Boost Performance." Chief Learning Officer, 9(7), 44–47.

The article presents information on the use of online and electronic resources for coaching employees, called virtual or electronic coaching (e-coaching). The distinction between electronic learning (e-learning) and e-coaching is described as the difference between theory and practice.

Bourg, J., Stoltzfus, W., McManus, S., & Fry, P.J. (2010, October). "Proactive Coaching for Employee Development and Improved Business Results." Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 21(10), 1005–1016.

This article describes a coaching challenge at Agilent Technologies, Inc. With 300 Green Belts trained but business results not delivered as targeted, Agilent needed to understand the root causes and develop methods to raise its Six Sigma Green Belts up the ladder of development. It has an excellent training program for Six Sigma Belts, with effective tools for instruction and learning assessment. However, the quality advocates believed a more highly developed program of proactive coaching was necessary for them to achieve a higher level of maturity, improve their contribution to the business, and attain industry-recognized certification.

Harris, M. (2010, April). "High-Performance Coaching: Power Steering." People Management, 28–30.

The author expresses his views on how to apply high-performance coaching in companies. He explains that employers should create a working environment that combines coaching, mentoring, training, and development.

Longenecker, C.O. (2010). "Coaching for Better Results: Key Practices of High Performance Leaders." Industrial & Commercial Training, 42(1), 32–40.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the issue of workplace coaching and offer insight into the various coaching practices that are necessary to produce better employee performance and results.

Noble, M. (2012, March). "Transform Managers Into Coaches: Five Steps for Coaching Success." T+D, 66(3), 32–33.

Recommendations are presented for companies wanting to develop their managers' coaching skills, including demonstrating the personal benefits of coaching, setting firm expectations into the organizational goals, and promoting those with superior coaching skills.



Anderson. D., & Anderson, M. (2005). Coaching That Counts: Harnessing the Power of Leadership Coaching to Deliver Strategic Value (Improving Human Performance Series). Burlington, MA: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

This book combines insights and practical experience about how to achieve transformational change through the strategic application and evaluation of leadership coaching. Also, it provides knowledge, ideas, and tools to evaluate the monetary and intangible value of coaching.

Butteriss, M. (2008). Coaching Corporate MVPs: Challenging and Developing High-Potential Employees. Mississuaga, ON: John Wiley & Sons.

The author recommends creating personalized, individual development plans designed to meet the specific needs of high-performing employees through coaching and mentoring. It lists extensive interviews with coaches, mentors, and leaders from various industries and their best practices for coaching and mentoring.

Emerson, B., & Loehr, A. (2008). A Manager's Guide to Coaching: Simple and Effective Ways to Get the Best from Your Employees. New York: AMACOM.

Guides executives through every step of the coaching process, from problem solving to developing accountability. Clear, practical, and straightforward, this is an invaluable tool that will help every leader coach employees, colleagues, and themselves to excellence.

Homan, M., & Miller L.J. (2008). Coaching in Organizations: Best Coaching Practices from the Ken Blanchard companies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.

This publication equips human resource and organizational development professionals as well as coaches (beginning to expert) with the tools and methodologies they need to help clients become more effective leaders within their organizations.

Meiss, R. (2012). Coaching for Results: Transforming Managers from Bosses to Coaches. Minneapolis, MN: MEI Press.

This book is for the leader who wants to fully develop his or her employees while getting business results. It covers subjects such as reinforcing good behavior, addressing bad habits, and confronting poor performance by asking good coaching questions, communicating effectively, and giving effective feedback.

Oberstein, S. (2009). 10 Steps to Successful Coaching. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

The author demonstrates why coaching can be a powerful tool to drive organizational performance and support the achievement of individual career goals. The solid, understandable process presented encourages and supports positive, long-term change.


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