Coaching Employees to Correct Performance Problems

By Laura Dowling, SPHR on Apr 18, 2023
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Performance problems can hinder an employee's ability to contribute effectively to the success of the organization. As a manager or supervisor, it's essential to provide coaching and support to help employees overcome these challenges and reach their full potential. In this blog post, we'll explore the process of coaching employees to correct performance problems, offering practical strategies and techniques to help you create a positive, growth-oriented work environment.

RELATED: How to Help an Underperforming Employee >>

What is Coaching?

Coaching is approaching performance issues from a problem-solving and teaching perspective,  rather than a disciplinary perspective. By focusing on the problem instead of the person, you can reduce defensiveness and increase motivation to improve. Coaching is based on the premise that employees can learn and change if they are given clear expectations, guidance to help them reach their goals and frequent feedback.

While it may be necessary to implement disciplinary action immediately, coaching can successfully be used where clarification and education can be used to correct the issue. Discipline should be used when you have to revisit issues that were addressed in coaching, an employee is resistant to coaching, or gross misconduct has occurred.   

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Preparing for a Coaching Session

Before meeting to discuss a performance problem with an employee, it’s important to prepare for the coaching session.

First ask yourself, the following questions: 

  • Did I set clear expectations? 
  • Were the goals realistic?
  • Did I make myself available for questions?

If you feel you can answer “yes” to all of these items, move to the next step.  If you can’t, you may need to reassess the employee’s workload, and goals, and set clear expectations before moving to a coaching conversation. 

Define the Problem  

To determine the gap between desired and actual performance, compare the job description to the performance you have observed.

Assess the Impact

How is this “gap” affecting the work environment?  Consider such factors as production time, raw materials and other resources, staffing, customer satisfaction, employee morale, and management time.

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Coach the Employee

At the initial discussion:

  • Give specific feedback on all the positive things the employee is doing. 
  • Briefly state your concerns about performance. Describe the difference between your expectations and what you have observed. Discuss the impact of the performance problem. Be clear, direct, and respectful. Try to focus on the situation, rather than on the person.
  • Provide a chance for the employee to respond and listen to the employee’s point of view.
  • Tell the employee you would like to work together to figure out the best way to improve performance. Ask the employee to think about the situation and come up with ideas for solutions to the problem. If the employee is unable to come up with a reasonable solution, share your own thoughts on the situation and brainstorm together. Schedule a follow-up meeting to see how things are progressing. Document the discussion.

FREE COACHING SCRIPT: 10 Steps for Giving Employees Effective Feedback >>

Follow Up and Monitor Results

Conduct and document follow-up meetings with the employee as scheduled.

If performance has improved even in small increments, be sure to acknowledge the employee’s efforts and realign goals if necessary

Document all discussions with the employee.

Providing Coaching to Build on Strengths

It is just as important to support employees in developing their existing strengths, as it is to coach them to improve in weaker areas. By acknowledging the behaviors and skills that are already strong, you provide a critical balance to your feedback. Coaching employees to further develop strengths can increase the employee’s motivation, improve confidence, and set the stage for the employee to take on additional responsibilities. When you demonstrate that you care about building on existing skills too, you can inspire increased efforts to improve in other areas.

RELATED: Revisiting the Performance Review - Does It Need to Be Fixed? >>


Coaching employees to correct performance problems is a crucial responsibility for managers and supervisors. By following the strategies outlined in this guide, you can help your employees overcome challenges, develop new skills, and contribute positively to your organization's success. Remember that the coaching process is ongoing, and maintaining open communication, support and encouragement is vital for fostering a growth-oriented workplace culture. For more information on addressing performance problems and coaching employees, reach out to our experienced employee relations experts today >>

Contact Axcet HR Solutions

Written by Laura Dowling, SPHR

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