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Understanding on-the-job coaching for performance breakthrough

January 29, 2024 | Operational Excellence

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At a Glance

  • On-the-job coaching can transform underperforming employees into productive contributors, enhancing their personal growth and the success of the organisation.
  • This approach helps identify areas for improvement and fosters a culture of engagement, leading to increased sales, higher product quality, and reduced absenteeism.
  • Tailored on-the-job coaching, combined with behavioural and cultural change methods, unlocks the potential of the workforce, breaking old patterns and driving operational excellence.

Employee performance often varies in the workplace. Some people excel naturally, while others lack the experience or skills and need more support. There are many benefits to transforming underperforming employees into proactive contributors. In cases where an organisation believes that procedural changes are necessary to achieve operational performance, on-the-job coaching can often deliver benefits before procedural changes take place.   

Direct intervention, or on-the-job coaching, can have an immediate and profound impact on many aspects, including performance. This approach involves close observation of an employee’s actions to determine whether their behaviour is consistent with the job requirements and enables effective job performance.  

In today’s competitive marketplace, retaining skilled employees is critical to business success. Underperforming employees jeopardise both their personal growth and the overall productivity of their organisation.  

Transforming disengaged employees into proactive and engaged contributors can have a dramatic impact on an organisation’s performance metrics. Studies show that companies with engaged employees experience 81% lower absenteeism, 41% higher product quality, 18% higher sales, and 23% higher profitability.  

Whether the challenge lies with employees who are struggling in their current roles or those who are having difficulty adapting to procedural changes, on-the-job coaching can deliver benefits.  

Benefits of on-the-job coaching 

On-the-job coaching, facilitated by managers using experiential learning processes, provides a positive catalyst for employee growth and improved performance. This dynamic approach makes it easier to identify areas for improvement, resulting in a more skilled and engaged workforce.  

Studies, such as one conducted among Spanish companies, have demonstrated the transformative impact of coaching on organisational performance. The coaching process led to increased sales and significant productivity gains.  

Coaching is also an invaluable professional development tool, particularly for human capital performance. In contrast to traditional performance appraisals, coaching helps employees achieve quality results, increases commitment and ownership, and creates a culture based on employee engagement.

On-the-job coaching: Techniques and steps  

On-the-job coaching is a versatile practice that varies depending on the specific roles within an organisation. It must be done well, or it can be interpreted as micromanaging and alienating employees.  

Different positions require different coaching tools, tailored for supervisors, operators, maintenance technicians, sales, service, and administrative staff. Clear communication is essential for success. Employees must understand what constitutes good or poor performance for their specific role, and expectations and objectives must be aligned.   

On-the-job coaching is different from a compliance audit. It is about deeper engagement, and each on-the-job coaching session must be a full shift. Without this, there is no way to make the right assessment. Think of it as a day-in-the-life-of (DILO) study, where intervention is needed to tell the supervisor or front-line manager how or what to do better.  

After the day-long appraisal, review and tailor further coaching needs for each individual. A typical weekly schedule might include three days of coaching and two days of follow-up to measure progress.  

On-the-job coaching is about bringing about a change in mindset and commitment and fostering a more efficient operation where everyone, regardless of starting point, can achieve a performance breakthrough. While some employees may shine naturally, others may be inexperienced or lack the confidence to do their job properly. These people may need more intensive coaching.  

Breaking old patterns with coaching 

On-the-job coaching delivers results quickly, at times outpacing procedural changes. Addressing any behaviour or lack of practice and guiding people on what they need to do better is essential to achieving operational excellence

With annual attrition hovering around 15%, organisations cannot afford to lose valuable skills and experience. We also need to go beyond skills and equip the workforce with the right mindset and cultural DNA. On-the-job coaching, combined with behavioural and cultural change methodologies, is the key to breaking old patterns and unlocking the full potential of your people.  

With over 25 years of experience, our team of change management experts focus on delivering real and measurable results for organisations by ensuring that new ways of working are rapidly adopted, and a new working culture is achieved. We will analyse how your organisation can most effectively design and implement a practical programme to deliver sustainable solutions. 

Improve the performance of your team and organisation.

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