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Everyone struggles with how to approach tough conversations around employee performance.  I’ve got an idea for you based on the ‘Coach and Connect’ concept outlined in my book “The Power of People Skills.”

When you have a more serious situation with an employee that needs to be addressed, try using a ‘coaching triad.’

Here’s how it works

  • Put together a group of 3; the employee, their manager, and a third person who is designated as the coach.  The coach should be a more senior person; someone who is okay with having important and difficult conversations.  The coach is also someone who may not be directly involved in day-to-day interactions with the employee in question.
  • As a triad, agree on the performance/improvement measures that need to happen in the next 3-6 months.  Agree that the three of you will meet to review progress once per month for 20 minutes over the 3 month period.
  • During your meeting time, cover three things:
    1. The employee shares for 5-10 minutes about areas that they believe they’re making progress in, and areas that they still need to work on.
    2. The manager shares for 5-10 minutes about areas that they believe the employee is making progress in, and areas that they still need to work on.
    3. The coach then chimes in, adding insights from an outside perspective, and offering advice and suggestions about how this change can happen more effectively.  The coach keeps notes of any agreements made between the employee and the manager.

Why it works

This triad works for 2 reasons:

  1. When you work daily with someone, it can be challenging to have those tough conversations.  Who among us hasn’t wimped out and said less than needs to be said, leaving a meeting knowing that key issues were left unaddressed?   The addition of the coach helps solve this dynamic.
  2. The coach adds a dimension of impartiality and accountability to the situation.  They don’t really have a dog in the fight in the same way that the direct supervisor does.  And knowing that a third person will be present ups the accountability for both parties involved.

Honest feedback that includes both genuine, sincere care and real accountability is an incubator for making people their best.

Give the coaching triad a try, and see results follows

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Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


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