Coaching Poor Performers

Dealing with poor performance is often a challenge for managers.  It is generally good advice to ‘focus on the performance not the person’, to avoid getting too emotionally involved in the situation.  However, if you want performance to improve, you are probably going to have to coach the individual in some way.  At this point, it’s all about the person – what style of coaching will they most readily respond to, what methods can you adopt?

A good starting place is to use the 3A model.  Think about the individual’s:

  • Awareness of the problem,
  • their Attitude to the problem, and
  • their Ability to address the problem.

Try to get a deeper understanding of where the problem lies, then you can frame your coaching accordingly.  Remember to dig below your first thoughts.  For example, ABILITY isn’t just a technical skill, it might be about an ability to get a team to work together, or an ability to anticipate problems, or an ability to manage time.

Finally, before you start the coaching process, think about your own intentions.  On a previous blog, I talked about identifying the possible outcomes from a poor performance situation – from miraculous improvement to disastrous unplanned exit.

Reflect on what you really want from the individual, what change are you seeking – be specific.  Then tailor your coaching to that end.


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