5 stages to consider for effective performance coaching

Wouldn’t it be great if you could recognise and meet where your staff is on the spectrum of change to help them improve on their work performance? However, before delving into the five stages to consider for effective performance coaching, we need to determine the reasons for underperformance.

Is your staff underperforming because they feel as though they are being punished for performing? Do they feel that they are rewarded for good performance by having more work piled on them? Perhaps your team members are unwilling to take on challenging and risky assignments as they feel that the punishment for failure overrules all reason to do it for the rewards of success. Or are they unsure on how to go about carrying out the task or lacks the ability to do it? And so on.

As you speak to your staff regarding the issue at hand, frame the conversation to focus on one area or issue. This includes listing the issue to be discussed and the expected outcome which both the manager and staff are aiming for. Also determine the time frame for the discussion and agreements on confidentiality.

Consciously suspend your judgement and maintain a curious mindset as you begin the conversation. Your goal in the coaching conversation is to help your employees gain a different awareness of and insight into the performance issue as awareness precedes change. With the new awareness, the coachees would have an idea of the possible solutions that can be considered.

If your organisation has yet to embrace a coaching culture,  fret not, you can still engage in a conversation with these stages in mind.

Precontemplation Stage: “I’m not considering a change”

When your staff is at the precontemplation stage, they are not considering making a change in their behaviour or attitude because of denial, obliviousness or resignation. If your coachees are in this stage, invite them to begin thinking about change.

Ask them questions like:

  • “How do you see this situation? What is happening?”
  • “What is working well?”
  • “What makes it challenging?”
  • “How might you have contributed to this situation?”
  • “How might others see the situation?”

Here’s a tip: give them time after the session for the information to sink in.

Contemplation Stage: “I’m considering making a change but I’m not committed to it.”

At the contemplation stage, the staff weighs the benefits and costs of the behaviour as well as the value and costs of the change. If you’re meeting your staff at this stage, help them to examine the costs and benefits of the change.

Ask questions such as:

  • “What are the consequences if the situation doesn’t change?”
  • “Tell me more about the business costs of this issue.”
  • “Imagine that a year has passed and nothing has changed. What would that be like for you?”

At the end of this phase, the coachees can make a decision to either change or not.

Preparation Stage: “I’m committed to changing and I’m beginning the process of change)

This stage is where the employee actively investigates possible ways to change. When your team member is at this stage, address the barriers to them engaging in the forward movement towards the change.

For instance, ask them:

  • “What do we need to keep in mind as we move forward on this issue?”
  • “What challenges do you think you would need to overcome?”
  • Followed by “What support do you need?” and
  • “Who can you get the support from?”

The support might be in the form of undergoing training or mentoring sessions. If the former is engaged, be sure to follow-up on how they will use them to help them improve their performance.

Action Stage: “I’m full on board with a change agenda.”

The action stage is where the employee commits to an action plan and makes is decisive to make the change. If this is where you are meeting them, help them to plan the action path and be generous with your affirmations for the steps taken.

Behavioural change will take time, effort, practice and reinforcement so be sure to be available to affirm them and give them feedback.

Maintenance Stage: “I’m continuing with my well-established patterns after six months of action.”

At this stage, employees are maintaining a new behaviour over a course of time, maybe six months, and follows through with ongoing milestones and measurement. Be sure to continue to praise them.

What happens if there’s a relapse and the employee reverts to their previous non-performance behaviour or feels frustrated and demoralised? As their coach-manager, engage in a problem solving discussion and be encouraging while re-engaging in efforts to move your coachees toward realistic goals. Ask them what other support they would need to meet their goals.

Moving ahead in performance coaching

Knowing where each of your team member is on the five stages will help you to know what is possible when exploring the desired state of performance and the paths that can be explored to get to the desired state.

Remember, people will not change until they feel a need to change. Your role as a coach-leader is to help your coachees gain an insight into their performance issue and let them decide if there is a need for change. With this new insight they will be able to, on their own, propose possible solutions in order to move forward (or not).

Before your next coaching session with your staff, analyse the real reason for their shortcomings in their performance. If you’re unsure of the real reason, how could you become more sure as you meet with each of them?

Having these five stages of change in mind, which stage do you think they are at? Then, think about what your focus would be during the coaching session as you move ahead in the performance coaching journey together with your staff.


©Published by Lifeskills Institute Pte Ltd

Lifeskills Institute is the strategic partner of Zenger Folkman for Singapore and Malaysia. Our Chief Enabling Officer, Ian Tan is a Master Facilitator certified by Zenger Folkman.

Zenger Folkman is a strengths-based leadership development company helping leaders elevate their people and organisations. Co-founders Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman utilise empirical data and behavioural evidence to help leaders become extraordinary.

Lifeskills Institute conducts The Extraordinary CoachTM Workshop  where participants will master the F.U.E.L. coaching model that can lead to a profound impact on those whom you are coaching. You will be equipped  to empower your coachees make better decisions on their own. And you will get to see how this empowerment and process correlates to levels of commitment, satisfaction, retainment and profitability. Participants will also receive a self-survey which measures their coaching behavioural preferences and equip themselves with the toolset for effective coaching.



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The Power of a Coaching Culture

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The Power of a Coaching Culture

simply described by the Centre for Creative Leadership, the “coaching culture” applies a coaching mindset to the entire organization. It might mean shifting mindsets and unraveling some set practices to allow for more open interactions, and meaningful feedback. This could influence organisational transformation that leads to improved productivity, higher performance, and possibly greater revenue.

What Does a Coaching Culture look like?

In a best-case scenario, a coaching culture could possibly be one that:

  • Empowers others to discover and reach their fullest potential;
  • Asks questions more than giving answers;
  • Provides ongoing feedback rather than only during annual reviews;
  • Considers people above profits;
  • Encourages learning, growth and even allows for failure;
  • Focuses on mindset shifts.

In essence, a coaching culture involves engaging in conversations with your employees. Much research has testified that there is a deep connection between employee engagement and their performance. In other words, the more engaged an employee is, the more motivated he will be in his work. It is therefore worthwhile for leaders to consider creating a strong coaching culture that drives organisational wellbeing.

How to Create a Coaching Culture?

In their whitepaper, “How Developing a Coaching Culture Pays Off”, Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman identified some steps that we can consider when creating a coaching culture.

  1. Set Clear Expectations

Senior leaders need to set the tone and send a clear message regarding the importance of coaching as a key element in effective managerial behaviour. This expectation must be intentionally factored in meeting agendas and given enough time to convey. This signals to all employees that coaching will be implemented seriously by the organisation, and ought to be taken seriously by employees as well.

  1. Create a Process to Follow

To promote the coaching culture, this expectation must be made concrete and practical so that the broad population of managers know exactly what must be done. Addressing questions like what are they to do? What is the purpose? What are the desired outcomes? can be aided if a simple process has been created that everyone can easily understand and follow.  It is found that the most successful coaching implementations invariably provide a structure and process that include helping the coach to identify the topic of successive coaching conversations. Tools that aid the process also include some mechanism by which the coach can gather ongoing feedback both ways.

  1. Provide Skill Training

Like any other skills, coaching has to be learned. It is also not a skill where one can attained just by watching another coach doing it. It is a skill that requires practice, which will enable competence and gain confidence. It is more practice that makes it more perfect each time when it is executed.

  1. Organise Systematically

Any change process in the culture must involve different parts of the organization and operate at all levels of the hierarchy. For a coaching culture to happen, it involves the entire workforce to see it as an integral part of interaction that happens between both the managers and the employees. It is a conversation that must happen both ways – the leaders and managers cascade the message, practice it in visible ways, and employees reciprocate this to achieve the same purpose.

  1. Monitor and Measure

To know if a coaching culture is successfully created, the tracking process needs to be in place. These measures will vary in different organizations; the key is to ensure that data can be collected from informal discussions with all managers and HR representatives as they interact with people.

Recent studies have shown that company culture is a top reason great candidates choose to work for a company; many workers even value culture over higher pay. The way we work is shifting, change is no longer an option; the younger generations of workforce are demanding this change.

When you create a coaching culture, you are also catalysing a change in your business to deliver a high performing environment that comes through a partnership of connected engagement, personal development, and committed support. Such is the power of a coaching culture that values people!

©Published by Lifeskills Institute Pte Ltd

Lifeskills Institute is the strategic partner of Zenger Folkman for Singapore and Malaysia. Our Chief Enabling Officer, Ian Tan is a Master Facilitator certified by Zenger Folkman.

Zenger Folkman is a strengths-based leadership development company helping leaders elevate their people and organisations. Co-founders Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman utilise empirical data and behavioural evidence to help leaders become extraordinary.

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5 reasons to invest in a superior 360 feedback process

5 reasons to invest in a superior 360 feedback process

Before sharing the five reasons to invest in a superior 360 feedback process, let’s establish what the 360 feedback process needs to have to be effective.

  • There needs to be complete confidentiality in the process. This goes beyond the comments not being attributable to the respondents of the 360 feedback; this is about keeping their responses confidential at all times.
  • The respondents need to be truthful and keep their comments productive without having to worry that they are bruising the self-esteem of the feedback recipient.
  • When the process is implemented, HR and the feedback recipient’s supervisor need to be transparent with the recipient, his coach and the respondents on the purpose of the 360 leadership review process. Be specific.
  • Customise the 360 leadership survey to reflect the company’s language, vision, mission, and valued competencies. Take this into consideration when selecting your vendor and setting aside a budget.
  • Have a proper follow-up process in place. Without it, the recipient may not be able to put the feedback to good use. And if the respondents notice that the recipient has not made any changes based on their feedback, future respondents may hesitate to participate in such exercises or if they do, may give only obligatory responses instead of being authentic.


What needs to be established here is that what makes the difference is investing in the 360 feedback process and not just the tool.

You may have invested in a great tool but without engaging in the 360 feedback process, the leaders of your organisation may have missed an opportunity to grow intentionally. And your organisation may have missed an opportunity to grow into becoming an extraordinary one.

Now let’s take a look at five reasons you should invest in a superior 360 feedback process.

Reason 1: Expands self-awareness – the first component of emotional intelligence

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst

Emotional intelligence – your ability to recognise, understand, and manage your own emotions – is a must-have skill for leaders. The first component of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Self-awareness is about understanding how you feel and how these feelings can impact your co-workers. When self-aware, you are able to identify your strengths, weaknesses, and emotions.

A 360 degree feedback process expands the recipient’s self-awareness as they find out more about their strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of their co-workers. When leaders engage in a multi-rater feedback like a 360 assessment, they can be pleasantly surprised by the differences between their own opinions of themselves and the observations of others.

Reason 2: Increases the importance and credibility of feedback given in the past

“Wait a minute, I’ve heard that before. My kids/spouse/siblings have said that about me too. WOW! It must be true if so many of my co-workers are saying the same!”

When administered well with a dozen or more respondents participating in it, a 360 assessment reiterates important messages to the assessment recipient as more people collectively observe the same behaviour. The feedback becomes louder and clearer to him.

Source: Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Reason 3: Increases the chances of the leader changing his behaviour

This is especially so if several leaders go through the process together. When they do, they become far more responsive to feedback and a different or new perspective.

With the 360 assessment, leaders can either change their behaviour or reframe how they see themselves.

Take James, for example: he found out through a 360 assessment that his staff found him to be more critical of their work than encouraging. When engaging in a work review meeting, James became more aware of this and held back his criticisms at the onset of the discussion. Instead, he took the time to understand how the staff came up with the piece of work and how it would meet the team’s goal. His discussions with his staff became more engaging. If James immediately criticised the staff’s work on the onset, people’ views of him would be accurate.

Reason 4: Establishes a solid relationship between leadership behaviour and business performance

When you invest in a top-quality 360 degree feedback assessment process, not tool, the leader is more motivated to change his behaviour as he understands how it can result in better business performance.

For example, the best 360 degree feedback assessments measure the current level of engagement and commitment of the leader’s direct reports. In the chart below, it is evident that a greater leadership effectiveness score results in more engaged direct reports. When a leader is made to understand this, he is more motivated to alter his behaviour.

Reason 5: Creates a domino effect from a single leader’s performance improvement

Once a leader showcases improvements in his leadership effectiveness score, other leaders in the organisation are motivated to do the same. This ripple effect is not just a one-off effect. It lasts a long time.

Research from Zenger Folkman shows that if the leadership effectiveness scores of the top team are just above average, then the successive layer below them will have lower scores. Conversely, if scores of the top team are at the upper percentile; the scores are higher at every successive level below them.

Reap the benefits of investing in a solid 360 feedback process

Investing in a 360 feedback process, not tool, takes time, effort, careful consideration and a serious commitment to follow through the process.

When carried out well, we have found that the individual and the company reap the benefits. And the benefits flow down not only to the various organisational levels but also in the individual’s personal life.

“360 feedback is the most valuable part which really helped me to understand better my strengths and weaknesses. Getting a 360 degree report provides a clear picture of people’s perception of you and what you think of yourself – big treasure. It lets us identify opportunities for improvement – better communication and work relationships at different levels.” Monica Ai,  Operations VP, Antolin (China) Investment Co., Ltd, participant of The Extraordinary Leader™ programme.

A 360 assessment process expands the leader’s self-awareness and increases the importance and credibility of feedback previously given to him. It would be well worth the while if the process is taken together as a team of peers as this increases the likelihood for a change in behaviour. Working with a coach to make those behavioural changes will also contribute to this likelihood as the coach holds the leaders accountable for their commitments to the changes. The coach is also part of a follow-up process to establish that he does.

You will see that over time, the business performance is affected positively when the people engage in a choice 360 leadership process.

©Published by Lifeskills Institute Pte Ltd

Lifeskills Institute is the strategic partner of Zenger Folkman for Singapore and Malaysia. Our Chief Enabling Officer, Ian Tan is a Master Facilitator certified by Zenger Folkman.

Zenger Folkman is a strengths-based leadership development company helping leaders elevate their people and organisations. Co-founders Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman utilise empirical data and behavioural evidence to help leaders become extraordinary.

Source: Photo by Esperanza Doronila on Unsplash

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Why Coaching Matters in Building Stronger Teams?

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Why Coaching Matters in Building Stronger Teams?

Research by Zenger Folkman found that leaders who are able to coach are eight times more likely to become top-tier leaders as opposed to a leader who manages. Collected data from 4,212 leaders affirmed that those coach their team delivered greater effectiveness and impact shown through their work performance. Hence, improving engagement and commitment at workplaces among teams.

Manager versus Coach

Clearly, the expectations for leaders today are not just about being able to lead, instruct, or manage, and ensuring work performance. It is also about being able to connect, engage, inspire and impact the team. To be a leader, you need to also be a coach. Question is, is it possible that the manager can also be the coach? Or is it not a distinct role between a manager and a coach?

If there should be any distinctions between a manager and a coach, it would be the approach. A manager is usually directive or instructive, that means, the leader likely prefers to “tell”, so the interaction is mostly one-way except if there are questions from the team. A manager is usually more tasks focused; thus, can become impatient when having to deal with too many questions. This usually leads to low engagement with the team, and decrease in collaboration efforts.

Coaching, on the other hand, takes on a more collaborative and empowering approach. As the saying goes, instead of “providing the fish, it is teaching them how to fish”. It means directing the team towards their own resourcefulness to discover insights and opportunities that can be translated to knowledge they can own. This ownership is critical in bringing about a change in behaviour because of the conviction gleaned from the insights gained. A coach is always interested to see transformation that brings innovation through leading change.

Becoming an Effective Coach

Building on the 4,212 collected data of the leaders who coach their team, Zenger Folkman separated those who were rated as the most effective coaches.  They identified 20 behaviours that were most frequently used by this group of most effective coaches, and further conducted a statistical factor-analysis to determine their dominant behavioural patterns.

  1. Carve out the time

Effective coaching requires setting aside time and showing up for the experience. Practically this means accessing your calendar, and scheduling the times to contact the person involved to provide coaching.

  1. Focus on specific actions

Discuss the specifics and dilute the generalities or platitudes.

  1. Inspire others via positive interactions

Create a script that leaves the other person uplifted. The best coaches were consistently seen as positive catalysts for change, rather than critics. Other looked to them for ideas, inspiration, and direction. They were seen as constantly seeking superior performance through continuous improvement. The best coaches radiate energy and enthusiasm to others.

  1. Add your ideas and experience

Coaches are not mere passive listeners. Good coaches help the person being coached to see the issues and challenges they are facing. The coaches enable them to find good answers from themselves. At the appropriate time, they give their ideas and share their experience. They deliver observations with honesty and in a non-offensive manner.

  1. Freely give honest praise

Feedback can range from redirecting or corrective observations all the way to high praise and commendation. Both kinds of feedback have their time and place. Our research, however, convincingly shows that the best coaches spend most of their time recognizing and rewarding positive performance. Their goal is to build confidence ad self-esteem, which in turn encourages even greater effort. Positive expressions far outweigh negative comments.

  1. Foster collaboration

The best coaches emphasize superordinate goals that unify people and generate collaboration. They help those they coach to see opportunities to garner cooperation from other teams and departments. They do all they can to tamp down competition between departments and to replace it with selfless cooperation.

Directing team is highly necessary in the chain of command; however, breaking that chain will also not create adversity. In fact, breaking this chain and incorporating coaching effectively will create greater freedom for the leader, and greater empowerment for the team. To change behaviour and inspire new efficiency, there is a need to focus on what will drive this change.

To impact change and grow a stronger team, it is therefore important for managers to be equipped with coaching skills, as well as leaders to further honed their coaching skills.

Reference Source:

©Published by Lifeskills Institute Pte Ltd

Lifeskills Institute is the strategic partner of Zenger Folkman for Singapore and Malaysia. Our Chief Enabling Officer, Ian Tan is a Master Facilitator certified by Zenger Folkman.

Zenger Folkman is a strengths-based leadership development company helping leaders elevate their people and organisations. Co-founders Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman utilise empirical data and behavioural evidence to help leaders become extraordinary.

Read More