Think Coaching to Improve Performance

Management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker once said, “The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”

Drucker’s words capture a shift that is happening in performance management, where coaching rather than managing is becoming the norm. The best of this approach strives to improve performance by helping people think and do things differently, to achieve results that matter.

At its foundation, the new approach to performance management emphasizes shifts from; (1) evaluating what happened in the past to clarifying what to do next and (2) doing so on a daily if not weekly basis, rather than once a quarter or year (3) supporting manager’s and direct reports’ achievement of these tasks without the excessive drag of inflexible, administrative systems. It is not surprising then, that we discovered that Coaching is a top five leadership development priority for every level of leader, based on data from our AchieveForum 2015 global leadership development survey. Most companies are striving to strengthen coaching capabilities in first, mid–level and senior levels leaders.

Effective coaching skill development focuses on four areas.

  1. Helping managers diagnose the learning styles of team members to optimizing one’s work with them. These adjustments can accelerate the team member’s ability to learn from experience.
  2. Using questioning and active listening to help others clarify goals in relation to the current realities, outlining the challenges ahead in achieving an important result, and figuring out to how best overcome these challenges. At AchieveForum, we term the second set of coaching capabilities: Thinking Partnership.
  3. Providing reinforcing feedback, builds motivational and behavioral momentum by highlighting what is working well and should be continued.
  4. Identifying and resolving performance gaps while winning the commitment of team members to closing these key gaps.


How is coaching changing performance management at your organization? What are some best practices that have made a difference?

To learn more practical skills you can apply to coaching, read the blog post “Six Keys to Better Coaching.”



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