Coaching Conversations: Evolve to a Continuous Performance Management Process (CPM)

If the research on performance management has taught us anything, it’s that the greatest challenges companies face is more about people than processes. It’s not usually an ineffective process or tool that hinders the effectiveness of performance management, but resistance from people within the organization to change their mindsets and behaviours relating to coaching and feedback. This challenge is even greater for companies where a coaching culture has not yet been established.

Coaching is a collaborative and ongoing process. It requires managers and employees to take an active role in the continuous performance management cycle.  Regular coaching conversations are a critical component of a successful CPM.

By enabling ongoing conversations and feedback between employees, managers, and coworkers, you can focus on effective performance development. This approach will also allow you to collect ongoing data that can be used to guide critical business decisions related to compensation, hiring, promotion, and succession.

Coaching conversations provide for an on-going “loop” of feedback that provides for a deeper understanding of employee performance and an effective tool to drive improved outcomes for the individual and the organization.

  1. Ask lots of questions! In regular performance reviews, managers are likely to tell the employee where they are in the performance process and what they need to do in order to move forward. Coaching conversations are less about telling an employee what they need to do, and more about asking the employee what they think they need to do.
  2. Be curious! Compassion and curiosity fuel good coaching conversations. Ideally, you’d like the employee to discover the answers to questions on their own terms. Listening is an important part of the coaching process. Pausing and giving space for your employees to speak encourages them to open up.
  3. Seek confirmation to foster understanding. Ensure you and the employee are always on the same page. Pay attention to body language as well as what they are saying. Confirm your understanding by asking, “Did I understand you correctly?” or perhaps if they aren’t receiving the review well ask “I can see that you are surprised, am I reading that right?” Pause and give them time to answer.
  4. Set goals for future conversations. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Performance is all about goal setting and measuring the achievement of set goals. Asking questions like “What does success look like to you?” will help employees to open up about what they want to achieve long term.
  5. Remove barriers for your employees. At some point in the conversation you’ll need to ask the question, “What may get in your way of achieving your goals?” or “How can we help get you there?” This is a good point to discover roadblocks and brainstorm ways to clear them up.
  6. Hold them accountable. At the end of the day, it’s all about the employee understanding what their own performance goals are having regular conversations that finish with “What will you do before our next session to ensure you meet your goals?” or “What does success look like? And how will you know when you get there.”

Successfully building a coaching culture is an important step in fostering an environment of CPM.

The journey to continuous performance management is just that — continuous. It’s not just a change, it is an evolution. Download the Whitepaper, Making The Shift to Continuous Performance Management, to learn how SAP SuccessFactors can help you achieve your goals.

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