Coaching a Problem Employee

First published 02/05/2010 on Associated Content/Yahoo


What is the difference between coaching someone and supervising someone? Coaches motivate, teach, inspire, encourage and challenge their staff. Supervisors are often seen as someone with authority over you, interfering and often remote. “Coaching” is preferred over “Supervising”. A coach should consider the reasons behind the poor performance or behavior before approaching the employee. The recommended process for coaching included five basic steps: State, Wait, Remind, Ask and Agree.

Step 1:

State the problem to the employee.

Do not approach the employee while you are upset or unprepared for the conversation. Accusations and condemnations will not give you the results you need. If the employee was late, simply state, “I noticed you were 15 minutes late this morning.”

Step 2:

Wait for a response from the employee.

The key here is to listen to the person without interrupting them. Let them give you their explanation, reasons or excuses, regardless of how silly and off tract they appear to you. Do not speak until the person stops speaking. They may say something as easy as “I know” or their explanation may be a melodrama of about five minutes long.

Step 3:

Remind the employee of the organizational goals.

Tell the employee why it is important that everyone work within the company policies. You can say something such as, “It is important that you be here on time. You are part of an important team that needs you here on time everyday. When you are not here on time, it slows down the rest of the team and things are not accomplished in a timely manner.” Be aware of going off track and stick with the planned statement to prevent the topic from wandering.

Step 4:

Ask the employee to provide a solution specific to the problem being discussed.

This may take some patience…but stick with the topic and gently ask the worker “What can you do to solve this problem?” Give them time to think of a solution, being careful not to interrupt them or let them walk away. Once they walk away, the solution will still be missing and the behavior may very well continue.

Step 5:

Agree on a solution with the employee. Do not terminate the conversation until a solution is agreed between you and the worker. Summarize the conversation. Repeat the observed behavior, state the agreed upon solution and don’t forget to tell the person thank you for their cooperation. If the behavior continues, you may need to have the conversation again, and then include as part of your final step, any disciplinary actions the company may take against the employee.


The key points to remember when coaching anyone is to stay on track, don’t discuss any other problem except the one you are prepared to talk about and listen politely while allowing the employee to think of a solution. Don’t forget to follow up with the employee in a day or two to see how they are doing.


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Filed under Business and Work Related, Culture, Everything Else

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