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Performing Regular Reviews in Business Coaching

Why are Regular Performance Reviews Important?
A young manager conducting a performance review with an employee

From a business coaching perspective, it is essential that a manager performs regular reviews with the employee or employees that they tasked with a certain project. If this does not happen, then it is highly likely that one or both of the following will happen:

1) The employee(s) will go off at a tangent and complete the project incorrectly and to different parameters than are required. This may be just a slight divergence at the start, but left uncorrected it can get worse and worse, and may be so far gone or there may be so little time left when it is discovered that it cannot be undone.

By performing regular reviews and providing frequent coaching sessions the manager can prevent or correct any work and get the project back on track before too mach damage is done. These reviews also allow the manager to identify any potential areas of improvement that may currently be an issue or are likely to be a problem in the future and put suitable provisions in place such as additional training or making extra resources available.

2) The employee(s) feel that what they are working on does not really matter if the manager cannot be bothered to find the time to check on progress. Even if the manager placed total trust in the employee(s), if they do not communicate this to them then it is likely not to be known. Whilst micromanagement and over-checking can be detrimental to the morale of workers, so too can under-management by leaving staff to fend for themselves. A good business coach and manager will recognise that they need to act like a parent teaching their child to ride a bike for the first time; they need to there in the background ready to catch them should they begin to fall, but also need to be able to step back and let them go when they are doing it correctly and managing things quite happily by themselves.

Time Period for Business Coaching Progress Reviews

Business Coaching Involves a Long Time Period of Development
A young and older manager discussing a work project

Effective business coaching programmes are conducted over a long period of time; typically months or even years if there is a long-term objective in mind (many senior managers have executive coaching conducted on an indefinite basis). Consequently there needs to be regular review meetings scheduled during the period which not only evaluate the progress being made but also to refine the action plan if necessary, or create new plans to incorporate problems which have arisen since the original plan was devised.

It is not enough for plans to be made in the first session or two, and then simply to hope that in the future everything will have been addressed and sorted. To be successful, frequent reviews need to be conducted to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments and refinements.

The workplace is a dynamic and constantly changing environment where adjustments need to be made in order to react to new threats and opportunities. Even in a relatively stable place of work the individual will still encounter challenges, both small and large, which were not foreseen or expected when the original plan of action was thought up.

Plus of course there is the possibility, and indeed it is quite likely, that making the changes and overcoming metaphorical barriers will be far from entirely plain sailing, and as such will require the support and guidance of the coach to get the person back on track.

Scheduling Progress Reviews

There is no hard and fast rule for how frequently these reviews should take place. It will depend greatly upon various factors including:

  • The scale of the problems and barriers trying to be overcome
  • Whether the end objectives are in the short-, medium- or long-term
  • The speed of progress being made by the individual
  • The motivation of the individual to make the changes
  • How much experience the individual has in the industry and their job role. For example somebody who has been in the job for many years, has seen fairly similar problems before and just needs a bit of guidance can be left to their own devices for longer than a new, inexperienced employee who needs a great deal of support from a coach.

In actual fact, the dynamic nature of the business environment mentioned earlier means that a review session should be scheduled at the conclusion of the previous one, rather than setting an arbitrary sequence in the first session such as once a fortnight for example. This is because as things change and progression becomes easier or harder, the level of support and guidance from the coach may need to be decreased or increased accordingly.

The decision as to how long the interval should be between business coaching and mentoring sessions needs to be decided between both the coach and the individual rather than one side stating what will happen. It should be an amount of time which is not so short that it allows for minimal change and time for any meaningful evaluation of the efforts to be performed, but should also not be so long that the individual can go off at a tangent or feel unsupported by the coach in their efforts.

Business Coaching and One-Off Reviews

Business Coaching and Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are an important part of the process for a manager who conducts business coaching with one or more of their employees. These reviews allow both the manager and the employee to evaluate how well or unsuccessfully the worker has achieved the targets and goals which were discussed and set at the previous performance review meeting.

During these meetings it is highly beneficial for the manager to make written notes so that they have a record of what was said and the plan for the future targets set with the employee, otherwise they will have to rely on their memory which will be far from perfect.

Conducting Reviews More Than Once Per Year

Many managers will conduct performance reviews and business coaching sessions once a year. Whilst this may be acceptable for some companies and managers, many will prefer to conduct performance reviews on a more regular basis. Not only will this save the manager from having to remember things from the last meeting twelve months ago, much of which they are likely to have forgotten unless they did indeed make detailed notes as a record of the session, but it is also fairly certain that a lot of stuff goes on in a year and more frequent reviews may be better as they will focus on this shorter period rather than trying to review and evaluate a whole year's worth of activity in one long session.

Business coaching can often be more effective when it is conducted in regular, shorter sessions that allow both sides to concentrate on specific issues rather than one-off get-togethers which try and cover a multitude of goings on. Find out more on our page: What is Business Coaching and Mentoring?

Frequent Business Coaching Meetings and Reviews

Regular Review Meetings are Better than Once a Year

The best managers who engage in business coaching with their employees recognise the need for frequent and regular meetings and reviews rather than single one-off reviews (See section Business Coaching and One-Off Reviews above). Not only does this allow issues to be tackled in a timely manner rather than having to wait until the yearly performance review to discuss it with the employee, but also removes the problem of the manager having to remember a year's worth of events and goings-on. It will be difficult to remember everything that happened in their own working life in a year, let alone having to remember what went on in their employee's!

Correcting Mistakes Now Rather Than Later

By performing regular performance reviews a manager and the employee can discuss and work on ways to tackle and improve on any areas of weakness or things that could be done better in a timely manner rather than having to wait up to a year for the annual performance review. Not only will this assist with putting things right and hopefully preventing the employee doing the same thing in the months that follow, whereas they could make the same mistake a few times if they weren't told it was wrong until their annual review, but it will also allow the worker to improve at a much faster rate as they overcome one issue after another in short periods of time instead of having to wait up to a year.

More Sessions Give More Opportunies for Managers to Conduct Business Coaching

Regular meetings also enable the manager to gain more practice and experience themselves in business coaching and refine their ability at performing reviews which motivate and improve the performance of those in their team that they are responsible for getting the best out of in the workplace.

Increasing the Time Between Business Coaching Review Sessions

The Need for Plans and Dedicated Meeting Time

We have already seen in the Time Period for Business Coaching Progress Reviews section above how essential it is for regular meetings to be scheduled between the business coach and the individual. These meetings are necessary in order to monitor and evaluate the progress they are making in terms of enacting changes according to previously discussed plans of action.

Without regular review sessions, it is all too likely that a person will deviate more and more from the previously determined plan for effective change. These plans would have been carefully created as a collaboration between the individual and the coach, with achievable goals and targets plotted along the way. If frequent review meetings are not scheduled or taking place, the individual may fall into one of the following two pitfalls:

  • Going off at a tangent
  • Not completing the necessary work or not undertaking important alterations

Going off at a tangent
Two office workers collaborating on a project

An experienced and highly-skilled business coach will know how to construct a change plan which is not only extremely effective in terms of enabling the person to achieve the goals (providing they are dedicated to its implementation), but also contains achievable checkpoint targets along the way.

As such, any deviation from this carefully crafted strategy will typically result in objectives not being met and changes not fully implemented. The more time that elapses, the greater the departure from the original course of action is likely to be. As with any project, going off at a tangent can result in wasted effort which does not fulfil the requirements of the fundamental objective.

Regular business coaching review sessions between the coach and the individual will ensure that the person is not going off track and making changes or working in areas which are not really necessary - or indeed counter-productive - for the achievement of the targets determined in the original business coaching sessions. Review sessions which monitor progress are also essential to ensure that there is no confusion or misunderstanding on the part of the individual as to what they should be doing or what they need to do next.

Not completing the necessary work or making essential changes

Of course, whilst going off at a tangent is bad enough, there is also the possibility that the person is not completing the work or making the necessary changes. There is a particular risk of this occurrence if the individual has been ordered to undertake business coaching by their manager, as opposed to choosing to do so, and as such is not fully committed to the whole process of coaching and improving their performance and contribution to the organisation.

Review sessions will therefore enable the business coach to check on the progress being made by the person, and offer encouragement when it is needed. The individual may also be more inclined to actually do the work if they know that a review session is coming up, where they would have the awkward task of explaining face-to-face to the coach why they have not completed any work!

Increasing the Time Between Reviews

As an individual acquires a greater understanding of the end-goal, and becomes more adept at making changes which are necessary to achieve it, it may be the case that the business coach feels that the length of time between reviews can be increased. This is especially the case when the individual has proven themselves to be willing and committed to their own professional development, and capable of undertaking research and making changes on their own without requiring a massive amount of support. In these circumstances the time between reviews could be increased, but sessions will still need to be scheduled periodically to still ensure that the person has not gone off at a tangent.

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