Five Tips to Being an Effective Performance Coach

By Susan Cullen on Thu, Mar 08, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

If you have agreed to act as performance coach for someone who is working on his or her performance development, support this person any way you can. Outlined below are several ways to be an effective performance coach.

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12 Competencies for Effective Time Management

By Susan Cullen on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 @ 12:21 PM

We’re all faced with too much to do these days. But one person’s challenge may not be someone else’s. In order to really maximize the use of your time, you need to have a good understanding about what YOUR unique time management challenges are.

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Communication Skills Quotes

By Susan Cullen on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 @ 09:51 AM

Communication is the basis of all relationships. Whether personal or professional, you just can't do without effective communication.  In order to build a good relationship with your clients, employees or peers you must use effective communication. Below please find some quotes about personal communication that I thought you might find interesting:

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4 Steps to Key Communication Skills

By Susan Cullen on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 @ 10:44 AM

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Fundamental Listening Skills

By Susan Cullen on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 @ 01:54 PM

There is more to being a good listener than just not talking.  The fundamental principles for being an effective listener are:

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3 Elements of Effective Performance Discussions

By Susan Cullen on Mon, Nov 09, 2009 @ 12:58 PM

One of the most difficult conversations most managers ever have is when they need to meet with an employee to discuss a performance problem.  Most managers either put this discussion off altogether (just hoping against hope it will go away), or so clearly mismanage the discussion that the employee leaves feeling demoralized and unmotivated.  However, the following three strategies can help you the next time you find yourself needing to coach an employee to improve.

  1. Focus on specific performance issues, not personality.  You may just know that the performance issue is obvious to the employee, but that is frequently not the case.  It can be very tempting to use general language like “not a team player”, or “attitude problem”, but the other party won’t understand what you mean.  They will probably get defensive and then you’ve immediately lost any hope of having a positive outcome.  So make sure you are clear and specific when describing the problem.  Instead of complaining that they weren’t a team player, say instead “When you missed the deadline by 2 days, it caused the whole team to be behind on this project”.  As a result, you will be focusing on the performance issue in a clear way and not making what can be perceived as a personality attack.

  2. Encourage the employee to take ownership for solving the problem.  One of the best ways to do this is to ask him or her what suggestions they have for improving.  This puts the responsibility on their back, and not on yours.  By engaging them in the solution, you are encouraging ownership of not just the problem but also the solution.  This gives them the opportunity to feel more empowered and willing to make a change.  Your goal is not to assign blame or make someone feel guilty; your goal is to improve the problem in the future.

  3. Set a follow-up date.  It can be tempting a heave a sigh of relief when you get to the end of the performance discussion and pat yourself on the back for accomplishing the first 2 strategies.  But if you end the conversation there, even though it went well, it won’t be successful.  There’s a strong likelihood that the employee may leave with all the best intentions, but can loose focus when meeting the rest of their daily demands.  To keep them on track, you will want to make sure you set a specific follow-up date and time to measure improvement.  Don’t say “Let’s review this sometime next month” or you can both get distracted.  Instead schedule a specific date and time to monitor progress.  This will ensure the employee understands how important this issue is to you, and the results achieved will be significantly higher.
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Benefits of Behavioral Interviewing

By Susan Cullen on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 @ 09:28 AM

Have you ever wished you had a crystal ball that would tell you BEFORE you hired a candidate if they were actually going to be a good fit?  Have you ever scratched your head AFTER you made a bad hiring decision, and wished you never even hired an employee in the first place?

Making sure you have the right person, in the right position, at the right time, takes much more than a crystal ball.  It takes knowledge of effective interviewing skills, and the ability to implement them.

One of the most effective approaches for interviewing is called Behavioral Interviewing.  It works off the premise that future behavior is best predicted by past behavior.  To be sure that a candidate has the capabilities needed to perform the job, you need some degree of proof that they have demonstrated these capabilities in the past.  A behavioral interview is a series of open-ended questions that help you obtain a good picture of a person’s capabilities in previous positions.

Preparation before the interview is essential.  To prepare for a behavioral interview, first identify the key competencies needed in the position.  Many people tend to focus primarily on the technical skills needed.  However, performance skills are also incredibly important competencies for success.  Examples of performance skills include problem solving, communication, analytical thinking, results-orientation, etc.

Once you have gathered information regarding all the skills required for the position, it is important to prepare a list of behavioral-based interview questions designed to critique the candidates past performance around those competencies.   Most behavior based interview questions ask the candidate to provide detailed information regarding:

•    A past situation where they demonstrated those skills
•    The behavior that the candidate performed
•    The outcome of that behavior

An example of a behavior-based question designed to assess the competency of effective time management would be:  “Tell me about a time when you were faced with a number of priorities to accomplish in a relatively short time frame.”

Then the interviewer would probe deeper by asking

•    “What kinds of things did you consider?”  
•    “How did you respond to the pressure?”
•    “What was the result?”

The interviewer can gain great insight into the candidate’s capabilities as the candidate is asked to provide a specific, detailed picture of his or her performance in a past situation. 

As a result, a more objective assessment of the candidate’s strengths and development needs can be achieved.  Although it may not be a crystal ball, it provides a much higher likelihood of making more informed hiring decisions.

To learn more about developing the skills needed to interview effectively, please review our Behavioral Interviewing Courseware on the web.

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Progress Reviews: Your Key To Effective Coaching

By Susan Cullen on Fri, Aug 26, 2005 @ 02:02 PM

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