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COACHING

Coaching means to train or give instruction.  Supervisors' coaching of employees should be an ongoing process to assist and improve employees throughout the year and not just used to address performance or conduct issues.

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PROCESS

Coaching should be an ongoing cycle of observation, feedback and support of employees.

Coaching should begin with a supervisor communicating the agency's goals and values, the position's duties and responsibilities and establishing a relationship of honest, open communication with a new employee.  Going forward from hire, a supervisor would observe, assess current performance and conduct and then provide feedback and training and assistance as necessary.

Observation can include soliciting feedback from others who observe or are affected by an employee's duties and/or conduct.

Following observation and prior to providing feedback, it is useful to consider what the responsibilities and expectations of the position are, whether they have been clearly communicated to the employee, whether the employee knows what both successful and marginal results are, whether there are obstacles to the employee's performance and what the supervisor can do to assist.

A supervisor's feedback needs to be timely, clear and specific.  For example, "you seem to be having difficulty meeting deadlines" is not specific.  Whereas, "I received the budget reconciliation four days after your deadline" is specific. Ongoing feedback should reflect positive observations, when appropriate, as well as concerns. 

Coaching regarding performance issues or misconduct should be done in private and with a positive focus.

Coaching should be documented in a supervisor's working files whether it relates to performance and/or conduct issues or outlines ongoing employee development.

LETTER OF INSTRUCTION (LOI)

Not all State agencies use letters of instruction.

A letter of instruction documents coaching and provides an employee with a written outline of the specific area(s) of concern and specific instructions on improvement.  The letter should include:

  • Specific areas needing improvement
  • Steps to bring performance and/or conduct to desired level
  • Time frame for completion

The employee should be provided a copy of the letter of instruction and a copy should also be maintained in the supervisor's working file.  It should not be included in an employee's permanent file.

A letter of instruction is not part of a progressive disciplinary process; but, if disciplinary action is subsequently taken, it may be used as evidence that the employee was advised of the issue(s) and given an opportunity to correct his or her behavior.  The Employee - Management Committee has ruled that including a reference to consequences (e.g., may be subject to discipline up to and including) converts a letter of instruction into a written warning.

SAMPLE LETTER OF INSTRUCTION

As a follow up to our discussion regarding work priorities, I have outlined my expectations for improvement regarding _____________________________.  This is an attempt to assist you in clarifying _____________________________.

The following actions or indicators should be implemented by you within 30 days of receipt of this letter:

1. _______________________________

We will meet weekly to discuss the implementation of this plan and its effect on your work flow.  I will also be available to address any questions or concerns that may arise in the interim.  I would like to thank you in advance for your cooperation in addressing this issue.

ACTION PLAN

It is not enough to provide feedback, a plan of action should be developed when deficiencies or opportunities for development are identified.  A plan of action is more likely to be effective if it is developed collaboratively by both supervisor and employee.  A plan should include a clear identification of the issue(s) and outline performance and/or conduct goals that are measurable and attainable.  The plan should also outline milestones (i.e., significant stages or events) when the plan and the employee's progress will be reviewed.

Once a plan of action is established, a supervisor should maintain communication regarding the goals and use reinforcement techniques (e.g., verbal encouragement, training opportunities).

The action plan and, as appropriate, periodic reviews (whether predetermined dates or time periods or based on milestones) of the employee's progress should be documented.

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