Frequent check-ins are positive experiences. That’s the opinion of most managers and their team members.
And yet, I hear this common frustration—Why do I have to repeat the same coaching advice again and again. Why don’t some people “get it” the first time?
The intent of this blog is not to explore all the possible reasons behind the frustration. Instead, let’s look at some practical advice you can implement today.
It’s possible the team member doesn’t remember what you think you’ve make very clear.
Here’s a story from Leonia (not her real name), a manager who attended one of my training sessions:
Armand (not the team member’s real name) was not meeting Leonia’s expectations. In a performance conversation with him, she was very aware of her tone of voice to be firm but not scolding. She felt she gave him concrete action steps, but two weeks later, Armand didn’t remember some key points from their conversation. Leonia had to repeat the coaching. What a waste of time—hers and Armand’s. And how did both of them feel about this? Leonia was disappointed and frustrated. Armand was embarrassed; this was just more evidence that he wasn’t measuring up, and he was fearful of the consequences.
If Leonia had captured the conversation in a follow-up coaching email, Armand would have had a chance to revisit her direction, perhaps even more than once. Taking 10 minutes to write something very simple might have saved her lot of time and eliminated the frustration.
Research shows that people remember and act on what they hear when they also see it in print. That’s why written follow up adds value to check-ins.
Coaching emails can also help you continue to strengthen relationships with your team. They show that you care. That you listened to the other person’s viewpoint.
Here’s another story from Kyan who was already in the habit of using coaching emails before he attended our training:
Kyan was challenged with a very good team member who was late to work more often than she was on time. He simply couldn’t let that habit continue, but he didn’t want to come down too hard on Denise.
In his check-in with her, he used a very effective coaching method of asking questions to determine what was behind her lateness. Denise poured her heart out explaining all the juggling she had to do each morning. Kyan made some practical suggestions that he reinforced in the following email:
Thanks for exploring some options to consider as you try to ensure that you’re in the office on time every day. If you can drop off Tyler at school 15 minutes earlier, that may give you enough time, especially when traffic is heavier than normal. I hope that will work out for you.
Let’s continue to stay on top of this. I’ll be here to help in any way that I can.
That email didn’t take Kyan more than a few minutes to write, and he said the rewards were well worth the extra attention. Denise “heard” the reinforcement of their discussion, and Kyan’s very sincere tone made her feel more comfortable sharing her personal experiences as a single mom. More important, Kyan’s suggestion worked—dropping off Tyler just 15 minutes earlier was exactly what Denise needed to do. She hadn’t thought about asking Tyler’s school if that would be possible.
Coaching emails take your performance conversations one notch higher. Although you may not need to write an email after every check-in, having the idea there as an option makes you a better coach and a better manager.
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