The Half Life of Coaching: How to Escape the Groundhog Day Coaching Experience
How do you make sure that coaching does not end up being a circular exercise that saps your energy and yields virtually no results? In fact, you end up feeling like Bill Murray in the classic movie Groundhog Day. You know the one where he wakes up and relives the same day over and over until he can get it right. Well in your version of Groundhog Day you have the same coaching conversations over and over. And unlike Bill Murray, the conversations don’t usually end in a happy ending.
Coaching has got quite a bad rap lately as the term is often equated with long tedious converations that can make even the most experienced manager want to run for the exit. However the coaching process can and should yield positive long term results.
The good news is that it’s not your fault – you have just been using a broken process!
The process most companies utilize in coaching is; Coach, Measure – Repeat as Necessary on a 30 day cycle. Each time we ‘repeat’ we become just a little more frustrated and in fact start to become convinced that the employee is not going to work out. Given the fact that replacing a non performing employee can cost up to 9 times their salary, we should be heavily invested in correcting the situation quickly!
We have been counseliing clients how to address this cycle for over 20 years using a process we call the Half Life of Coaching.
Here is how the Half Life of Coaching works:
Step One: Identify the KPI
Identify the KPI that you want to improve. Make sure it is a leading indicator of success that can be measured easily and is objective. While a subjective KPI can work, it is far more difficult to gain agreement around and there is almost always an available objective KPI you can use. For more information on how to slect the correct KPI, see the earlier blog post on Turbocharging Your Coaching.
Step Two: Gain Agreement on the KPI and the Time Frame
Use effective coaching techniques to gain buy in from the employee on the KPI and the behaviors that will drive improvement. Now when we say ‘agreement’, it would be ideal if the employee was willing to work with you collaboratively and agree on the objective. While that is not always possible, even in difficult cases they can still be in ‘agreement’ that they know what the expectation is. You must also agree on a reasonable time period for follow up. While there is no ideal time frame, it should probably be in the order of a week. Longer than a week tends to encourage a lack of focus.
Step Three: Have the Employee Report Their Progress
At the end of the agreed upon time frame, have the employee report their progress to you. Of course, you scheduled a follow up coaching session at the end of last session, so the first order of business is to review the results the emplyee ahas achieved. Under no circumstances should you usurp the employee’s responsibility to report their results. If you do, you have now taken on the responsibility for them to change.
Step Four: Determine the Root Cause of a Lack of Progress
Assuming that the employee has not yet been able to achieve the desired results, coach them to an awareness of what is happening and the behaviors necessary to drive success. While the employee may try to take you down the rabbit hole of ‘reasons why I can’t…’, it is important that you keep focusing the conversation on how they can.
Step Five: Schedule a Follow Up Coaching Session at HALF the Last Time Interval
It is key to communicate that we are decreasing the time interval to help both of you determine the root cause of the challenge they are experiencing. It is of course possible that the goals you are expecting progress on are not reasonable, so you must be open to that possbility. If the goals are indeed reasonable, then the decrease in the follow up time frame will assist in:
- Providing clarity (for both you and employee) as to what the root cause of the problem is.
- Increasing the sense of urgency with which the problem must be addressed.
- Eliminating much of the ‘noise’ that clouds a review of what employees are really spending their time on. Quite often it is not a lack of effort that drives low performance – it is a lack of effort on the right things.
Step Six: Repeat or Celebrate!
If performance improves – resist the urge to jump back out to a 30 day follow up cycle. Remember that habits are not formed overnight. I would suggest you back out slowly toward a more regular follow up time frame.
However if performance does not improve, then go back to Step Five. Rarely do you need to get to more than daily check ins as the root cause is quickly identified with shorter time periods between coaching sessions.
Want to learn more about how to accelerate your progress and close the gap between where you are today and where you want to be? Click here or on the image below and let’s get started!