What’s the best way to help people improve? How do we work with staff members who do a good job and help them get even better?
Many of us came into leadership positions at a time when we focused on the gaps: what our employees needed to work on and where they were weakest. During annual evaluations, we centered the discussion around mistakes and weaknesses.
There’s a better way.
Appreciative coaching focuses on what people are doing well. It allows them to determine where they’d like to improve.
For example, when watching a nurse do hourly rounding, we might say, “I observed your interaction with Mrs. Jones. How do you think it went? I saw you do __ and __ really well, great job! What do you think could have gone better? Okay, how can I help you with that?”
When we use appreciative coaching, four things happen:
- We build a road to improvement. Employees are more likely to make improvements when they identify the things they want to do better. We tend to follow through on things when they’re our own ideas.
- We make it ‘safe’ to not be perfect as long as we’re still trying. Employees do better when they’re supported, not criticized.
- We foster a culture of recognition and appreciation. When we tell employees what they’re good at and how important those skills are, they do them more often and even better than before.
- As leaders, we start to see our staff differently. When we look for the good, we tend to see more good.
Of course, if there are some serious performance issues, that’s an entirely different conversation. But for your high-performing staff, try a little appreciative coaching.