5 Tips for Coaching Employees

Employee coaching

Let's face it, even the best employees sometimes need coaching. Coaching in its purest form is designed to help you as a retail manager to get the most out of your retail employees. You need a regular rhythm of coaching, not because the employee is bad, but to constantly help him or her improve. 

Here are five tips to help you do your best when coaching and to get effective results from your employees.


1. Prepare Yourself

Never start a formal coaching session without notes. You need to have your plan ready and in order in advance. Coaches that "shoot from the hip" rarely see any change in behavior of the employees. Before your session, decide your desired outcome to establish a game plan. Also, be prepared with specific examples of behavior. Employees get frustrated when they are given generic feedback. It's not fair to them and rarely do they change as a result. The key word is specific. 

2. Prepare the Employee

The truth is you are more excited about coaching than the employee is. You want to shine your brilliant retail wisdom on them and have the employee walk away saying how amazing you are. While on the other side of the table is an employee who is dreading the conversation. Start the coaching session by expelling why you are there and then affirming the employee before starting the coaching.

Let them understand that the purpose of coaching is to keep them in your retail store and on your team, not fire them. True, you do need to communicate that if the behavior does not improve it will lead to termination, but the fact that you are investing in coaching with them should be a sign you want them in the store.


3. Focus on Behavior

Never talk about attitude. Attitude is subjective and therefore easily "arguable" by an employee. For example, your idea of a positive attitude may not match the employees. Also, you can get yourself in some legal trouble if the employee ever sued. Judges hate to hear about attitude. Instead, focus on behavior. Even if it's attitude that you are trying to coach, focus on the behaviors that exhibit that. For example, not smiling to customers or gossiping with other employees. 

4. Create a Plan of Action

This is an important step to do right. Start with the employee's ideas not you own. Ask them what they think should be done. It creates buy in and the likelihood of the employee actually following the plan is dramatically increased. Remember, you cannot motivate employees, but you can create an environment that stimulates them into action - which is what coaching is supposed to do. 

5. Follow up

Finally, the most important step is to set a time for follow-up to check progress. Coaching left open-ended is not successful. Set a time based on the difficulty of what you are asking the employee to address or change or the frequency with who you will see the employee. For example, if it is a full time employee you wee multiples times during the week, you might try 30 days.

But if it is a part time employee that you will see less often, yo might try 60 days. You need to establish a timeline that shows the change in behavior is progressing. An employee can do anything for a week, it's sustaining it for a month that counts