We're in an exciting time for coaching and development. Gone are the days where employees get feedback once a year in an annual performance review because many businesses are now opting for lightweight, engaging, and effective coaching and development tools like TINYpulse Coach.


But it isn't always easy to change decades-old management processes, so read on for a few best practices to help you as a leader transition to real-time, feedback-based coaching and development practices.


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1. Have regular 1:1 conversations


Coach is a tool to spark meaningful conversations and we think you should be having those conversations in-person. Amy Adkins from Gallup states:


"Employees' engagement is directly influenced by their managers' engagement -- whose engagement is directly influenced by their managers' engagement... Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged [themselves].”


 


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Setting effective goals, reviewing performance, and providing feedback with Coach isn’t always enough to keep employees engaged. Stay focused on the human element of coaching and development by having regular 1:1 meetings with your direct reports.


The best 1:1s are weekly or bi-weekly for 30-45 minutes. Be sure to ask employees how they’re doing, if they’re happy with their work, and if there's anything standing in their way. These questions are quite powerful and will help you uncover underlying issues. You don’t want to lose key members of your team so it’s important to remove any roadblocks to their success as quickly as possible.


Apart from resolving any issues that there may be, the main benefit of the 1:1 meeting is to give employees the support they need to continually grow in their roles. When they see your commitment to their progress and development, they’ll be more motivated to do the best work that they can and are less likely to up and leave for another opportunity.


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2. Help your teams write SMART goals


SMART Goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. They clarify objectives so there are no questions about what success looks like. The backbone of Coach is to have everyone setting, tracking, and achieving goals to continue growing as an individual and a company.


Goals should be written SMART-ly as often as possible to minimize ambiguity. As a manager, you should work with employees to write goals using this framework, then enter them in Coach to keep top of mind each 1:1 discussion. 


Example


Increase sales: This goal isn't:


  • Specific (Increase sales by how much?)
  • Measurable (Is success considered any sort of increase or is there a specific target you want to hit?)
  • Achievable (Can you increase sales? What will you do to get there?)
  • Time-bound (When should I see results?)


I'm left with a lot of questions surrounding this goal.


Increase sales of Products X, Y, and Z by 12% by the end of Q3 2019: This goal is:


  • Specific (products X, Y, and Z)
  • Measurable (12%)
  • Achievable (I'll trust this target is within the employee's skillset)
  • Relevant (this is most certainly applicable to employees in a sales role)
  • Time-bound (end of Q3 2019)


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3. Give regular feedback and coaching every evaluation cycle


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Based on our research, more than two-thirds of employees want feedback at least once every two weeks. Previous generations were fine with receiving infrequent feedback or reviewing performance once a year in their annual review, but times have changed and younger employees crave regular feedback from their managers, mentors, and peers.


Employees can't know how to improve their performance without regular coaching. Make sure to give constructive feedback every rating period to let employees what they’re doing well, what can be improved, what skills they should be learning to advance their careers.


But remember, feedback isn’t synonymous with praise. Be sure to also celebrate your employees’ talents, while also coaching them so they can keep improving!


Learn best practices for rating goals.


4. Standardize the evaluation process


Once goals have been set, Coach asks you to evaluate performance and give feedback on a regular basis. There are three steps for rating each goal:


  1. Rate performance (optional)
  2. Explain why you gave that rating
  3. Give coaching feedback


It isn’t easy to develop teams with many members, who all have diverse personalities and skillsets, and you might even be managing your team remotely. This is why at TINYpulse, we use the default General Performance goal in Coach to summarize overall performance for the evaluation period before our 1:1 meetings.


We have four standard points that each employee touches on that help leaders give employees the coaching and support they need. 


  • Highlights to celebrate what went well
  • Lowlights to understand what can be done better
  • Roadblocks to help employees get the support they need
  • What they expect to accomplish before the next check-in


Using these four standard points, we have a pre-defined template for leaders to run 1:1 meetings. Both managers and employees come to the discussion informed and prepared to contribute each week.


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5. Set aside 15-20 minutes per rating cycle


Timeboxing is a term used in agile software development which means putting strict time boundaries around an activity. When the time limit is up, you finish working whether you’re done or not. When you set a time box, you’re more motivated to finish tasks efficiently because you know you’re working against a clock.


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When using TINYpulse Coach, only allow yourself 15-20 minutes each cycle to evaluate performance. This limitation will motivate you to work quickly and efficiently to understand what employees need, give high-level feedback, and outline an agenda for your 1:1 meetings.


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