Oct 06, 2022

How skills coaching helps with performance reviews

Performance reviews or feedback hell? How many well-intentioned managers are shocked when their people don’t just change? How skills coaching helps with performance reviews is by giving leaders the power to motivate and tap into their teams’ natural desire to grow, but they can also alienate.

Coaching for performance

The secret to leadership is to motivate others to drive performance. The annual performance review process might feel painful and antiquated at times. Nevertheless, effective reviews can be transformative with the right skills coaching. 

While there are different types of coaching including communication coaching, leadership coaching, life coaching and many more, they all impact mindset. That’s what drives personal change. Skills coaching helps with performance reviews because it creates objectives to both improve current performance and drive career development. 

People learn tools to step away from their assumptions and biases, become more aware of others’ needs and beliefs and suspend judgment to co-create solutions for improving performance with their team members. 

This approach makes employees feel valued because they know their leader wants their input. They also feel heard and empowered.

Skills coaching helps with performance reviews because it enables the 3 tenets of self-determination theory: autonomy, competence and relatedness. 

These are the formations for intrinsic motivation that push for exceptional performance and generate the desire to grow, self-discovery, and show commitment by aligning with the process. 

  1. Define personal and business goals. We know that KPIs and OKRs drive results. Through, a coaching session, people can build on these and include specific personal goals such as “I will take a deep breath before I speak and use active listening at least 50% of the time.”
  1. Integrate coaching metrics. Good coaching involves setting realistic measurable goals built into employee performance reviews. 
  1. Include a progress feedback loop. With clear metrics, employees can track their own progress and seek feedback by incorporating positive and negative comments with an open mind. 

Skills coaching moves difficult conversations into transformational experiences

Essential coaching skills during performance conversations are active listening, relationship building and emotional intelligence. As a leader, practicing active listening can take the form of a pause to explore their employees’ reality rather than simply imposing their views. By asking open-ended questions, a great leader can encourage their direct reports to become more self-aware, building on their strengths and leading to more productive outcomes.

When leaders impose their views in performance conversations, the brain can go into defensive mode. We (people) try to fix our weaknesses which leads to thoughts of not being good enough. Anxiety, fear and anger show up and we miss the opportunity to learn about areas for improvement. 

As this study on the effects of strength-based performance shows, a strengths-based performance appraisal generates positive feelings. Through good feelings, people believe in their manager’s support and are more willing to accept low-performance ratings and the need for change. Skills coaching helps with performance reviews because leaders learn to empower employees to leverage their strengths. Through those strengths, employees can then successfully manage any negative behaviors. 

It’s much easier to create motivational goals and have performance conversations based on employee strengths. But often, it’s the weaknesses that drive performance feedback and skills coaching helps leaders by teaching them the art of having difficult conversations.

Transformational leadership coaches follow these approaches for leading difficult conversations:

Within a performance culture, employees define personal goals that are aligned with the company’s goals. The outcome is that they feel good and connected to a higher purpose. Most critically, they have a common language to talk about skills, competencies and goals. 

Successful coaching doesn’t just develop skills such as influencing people, cultivating innovation or ensuring accountability, it also provokes behavioral change because leaders have the frameworks and the mindset to align with others. This is the foundation of building a growth culture. 

And as previously mentioned, skills coaching helps with performance reviews because direct reports become more self-aware. They reflect on their skills, how they feel they’re doing and what they specifically want to work on. With such ownership, employees are more likely to achieve their goals and leaders become the supportive ally throughout the performance review process. Most importantly, employees expand their toolkits and leverage their strengths to prioritize the key skills that make great leaders

Skills coaching helps with performance reviews because people move away from controlling behaviors toward 4 key means of authenticity and openness. 

  1. Instills a growth mindset. Skills coaching helps with performance reviews because team members see progress through their personal KPIs. They further believe in themselves because they know that they cultivated the skills to improve their performance. This inspires positive emotions that in turn allow people to relax and be themselves.  
  1. Motivates and engages. Through open-ended questions and empathy, an employee review can build trust and connection. Both leader and direct report are engaged in co-creating solutions that combine personal and business success.
  1. Encourages ownership. Performance OKR and KPI setting can be viewed as a competency book. Employees know which skills they can further develop and they know what good looks like. They can finally take ownership because they have a benchmark to measure themselves against. 
  1. Builds communication skills. Active listening and nonverbal communication tools such as psychologist Gerard Egan’s SOLER model of nonverbal communication: sit Squarely, Open posture, Lean in, Eye contact and Relax are learned in skills coaching.

Don’t miss out on the benefits of how skills coaching helps with performance reviews

Managers and employees have the power to make annual reviews beneficial for everyone. If you want a change in overall performance, you need effective coaching to instill the right skills and behaviors. 

Skills coaching helps with performance reviews because people learn tools and frameworks to drive their own personal growth. They are motivated because their goals are aligned with the business and they can see their progress and that what they do matters. 

Above all, effective coaching fosters the desire to grow and change. Leaders learn to step away from their biases to become more open and inclusive. Moreover, they focus on strengths so people can put competencies into action. This in turn creates positivity and transformation where anything is possible.


Coaching, Company Culture, L&D, Leadership, People, Skills-Based Coaching

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