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15 November, 2016

Why It’s Important to Follow-Up Your Coaching Conversations

Last time we looked at the most powerful conversations you can ask in Coaching Conversations. This week we’re going to look at why it’s critical you follow up your Coaching Conversations every time, and how you can go about doing this.

What I recommend is if you can’t put aside the time to follow up a Coaching Conversation, you’re better off not having them at all. We’re going to look at why this is. But first, let’s think about some of the classic Coaching Conversations you’ll have with your direct reports.

One of them is designed to confront poor performance – the Corrective Feedback conversation. These are held when there is a problem with a direct report’s behaviour or performance, and you need to confront it. Another is the Grow Conversation – used to develop or guide direct reports when they have an issue they bring to you.

We’re going to look today at why it’s so important for you to follow up Corrective Feedback conversations. Let’s imagine that you are a member on my team – I notice something in your performance where I think there’s an opportunity to guide you for higher performance, and I want to have a conversation about it. Let’s imagine further that it’s an issue or behaviour you exhibit multiple times a day. We have a Corrective Feedback conversation, and you agree to make a change. Let’s think about when you’re likely to make that change. If you’re willing, and you’ve agreed to make it, you’ll probably make the change sometime today. The reality is, making a change takes some effort. Now, if I don’t put aside time to pay attention to your efforts to change, or follow-up to recognise the effort you’ve put in, as time goes by, you’ll revert back to what you were doing before.

So a few days after having a Corrective Feedback conversation with you, I come by again and notice you’re not doing what you agreed to do. I think you haven’t done it at all. So now I give you some more Corrective Feedback. I might be a bit more frustrated this time. What’s your likely reaction going to be? Maybe you’ll be
annoyed, and you’re probably going to be less inclined to make the change. So by failing to follow-up soon after you’ve made the change, I’ve started to damage my credibility as your manager, as well as my ability to positively influence your behaviour.

What’s the way to avoid this? Make sure whenever you provide corrective feedback, you set-up the opportunity to positively reinforce the behavioural changes you’re expecting. This means focusing on the change sooner rather than later.


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