Coaching Your People

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rick Boudreau - Also by this author

Coaching is about keeping people on track, catching them doing something right, maintaining their self-confidence and leading by example. The most important step in coaching people is getting them to understand the need for improvement. Without that, there is very little likelihood of any permanent change in the employee.

Coaching should take place only after an individual understands clearly what the performance problem is and what’s expected of them. Good coaches never wait for performance issues to become big problems. They respond firmly with early intervention using a positive, solutions-oriented approach.

The good coach constantly works to give constructive, specific feedback, either positive or negative, as close as possible to the time the behavior was observed.
Coaching sends the message to all employees that their contribution is valued and that you are dedicated to their development. Coaching is dependent upon having willing employees who want to overcome problems and develop their abilities.
Recognize and encourage progress, not perfection. The key always, is to address unacceptable performance before it develops into a pattern of behavior.


Study after study has demonstrated that recognition and acknowledgement ranks high in return for the job people do day after day. The simpler and more direct the recognition, the better.

People want to be recognized for doing something well. This validates their self-esteem and their confidence in doing a good job. Make your recognition specific. Just saying, “you did a good job” doesn’t really say much. Tell them why.

Getting the best out of people and helping them to achieve their full potential is a product of how they are treated, inspired and challenged.

Poor Performance:

You must have a sound knowledge of the work process involved. Don’t just tell an employee you want them to improve, show them how. The job of improving poor performance is always a challenge, and it is the responsibility of the manager to properly train or re-train employees to ensure everyone is contributing toward the shared objective.

If you don’t act immediately to correct unacceptable behavior, you are sending the message that poor performance is acceptable. When individuals are not held accountable for their performance and behavior, it has a measurable de-motivating effect on all the other employees.

There is only one thing worse than a trained employee who quits, and that is the untrained employee who stays.

To address poor performance, a good manager will identify what barriers or skills are lacking in the employee that prevents him from doing the job effectively. (e.g. is the amount of work they perform during the workday in question?) When an employee is not performing up to standard, clarify your expectations and develop an action plan that targets improvement.


The purpose of your criticism is to gain the employee’s agreement to change. People who agree to change, even grudgingly, are more likely to do so than those who are told they must. To accomplish this, discuss the improvement you would like to see.

Constructive criticism is issue-focused, information-specific and is always based on observation. You can turn behavior or performance problems into positive, motivational experiences by using constructive criticism.

Tell your employee what situation must be changed, why the change must be made and how they should go about it. Make improvement your goal.

Good luck!

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