The title is a bit ambiguous – does it mean coaching poor performers out of the organization or coaching high performers out of the organization? The answer is: both. Certainly, it is important for leaders to be able release poor performers if there is no hope of improving that employee’s productivity. However, a smart leader also focuses on improving an employee’s skill set to the point at which the employee is best served by finding a new role.
Poor Performers: Help Them Find a Job with your Competitor
Leaders have the obligation to provide the necessary tools, training and coaching to employees to improve their performance. You have to be creative in thinking how you can help that employee gain the necessary skills or knowledge to do the job. Perhaps, you have to create a physical job aid – a step-by-step guide. Perhaps, the employee will learn best by shadowing a colleague. Perhaps, you will have to spend time daily reviewing the work that needs to be done, or has been done. Perhaps, there is a formal training program that s/he can attend. Whatever it takes, it is the role of a leader to assist employees to reach optimal performance.
What if it doesn’t get better?
However, if leaders can show that they have done everything in their power to assist the employee, and the performance is not improving, then it’s time to release that employee. I have had a couple of employment lawyers tell me that by the time you fire an employee, the employee is often also relieved. In general, employees also know it’s not working out and they are stressed and worrying daily. Of course, the challenge is a little murkier if poor performance appears to be as a result of attitude. In that case, we suggest having a frank conversation with these employees and letting them know they have a choice as an adult. If they can’t pinpoint what other supports you could provide, then they have a choice to perform or not at the agreed upon level.
Coaching High Performers Out of your Team
It is tough but, ultimately, you are a great leader when you help employees build skills to a point at which they outgrow their roles. Not every employee wants to develop skills to a level that will allow him or her to move on. But for those who do, the focus needs to be on developing transferrable skills that allow employees to follow their desired career direction. It is up to a leader to learn, understand and support the development of those skills, even if the skills are not required directly in the role. By doing this, you will have a highly engaged employees while they are still on your team. And they might come back to work with you when you have a role that fits with their new skills.