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Coaching steps part 2

What do I need to do?

We have spoken before of the need to clarify the result required (or objective or goal etc.
In addition we must be clear as to the behaviours needed to achieve these results.

There are key elements to this clarification:

  • What are the exact behaviours needed?
  • What is the time frame for starting and completion of the task?
  • What is the specification of the finished article.

Those involved with project management (see The Complete Project Management package) will be familiar with some of these concepts.
However, they are not often applied directly to the actual behaviours.

Job descriptions

Few people will have not come across a job description.
Do they describe exactly what your job is all about?
They are usually a list of responsibilities and accountabilities.
You can’t do these, they are not behaviours.

Induction, orientation

Most new starters in business will go through an induction phase which may be allied to a performance review period.
This may be known as a probationary period.
This activity is really important to minimise poor motivation in the future.

This will often cover company procedure as well as actual daily job skills.
If the behaviours required are not clarified properly there will be later problems.
The working of machinery can present major safety and budget issues if damage ensues.

Induction and on-the-job training are commonly carried out by experienced employees.
How do you know that an individual’s training is adequate? Are they safe to use machinery?
When carrying out this sort of training a checklist is extremely useful.

It should cover all aspects of behaviour required of the job.
There should be a mechanism for signing off the training to indicate that it has happened and that the inductee has understood the training. This is necessary feedback.

Poor performance is not due to a lack of skill it is behavioural.

One big problem in this area is that people are asked to carry out the training without the necessary training in ‘teaching’.
Even though training is complete it is worth including a period where the person is watched closely whilst first using machinery.
This would be even more vital if there is delay in using equipment after training.
Training should be updated at intervals.

Department issues

When work covers more than one department, clarification of expected results and underlying behaviours are a major problem.
Classical problems often exist between marketing and production.
Production make a product to a specification as they saw it. Marketing them tell them it wasn’t what they had envisaged.

Theory and practice

It is one thing to learn and acquire new skills in training and quite another in using them in practice.
When you want to learn to drive it is relatively easy to find out what to do in theory.
It is much more difficult to apply that knowledge in the real world where other drivers and adverse situations interact with your driving.

In other words if you don’t get an opportunity to practice your skills you won’t hone them and will soon lose them.
Loss of motivation will result.


Be prepared for questions.
There is no particular reason why people should do things if they don’t know the background.
It can be very important to give a background to a job and explain how it fits into the values and output of the organisation.

Internal and external problems

No one can do a job without the help from other sources. These can be internal to your area of work (getting reports, data, raw materials from stores etc) or external (legal issues, power failures, insurance, safety issues, acts of God).

There are many areas that can go wrong that are not within the control of the worker.
However, the manager’s job is to be aware of these issues and smooth the path for the worker by either removing these barriers or circumventing them.

Project management teaches control and that usually means some feedback on a regular basis.
However, as this is mostly via official meetings any feedback identifying obstacles to success is often too late.
This is another reason for breaking down projects into smaller stages.
These can be reinforced more regularly affording more frequent opportunities to identify any obstacles.

If there is poor control it is a recipe for just blaming the worker when targets are not met using the character labelling system of lazy etc with the usual drop in motivation.

As a manager you may not be able to avoid some obstacles, for example, wide spread power failure, tornado damage, doubling in raw material prices. However, with better planning and anticipation (see The Complete Project Management package) you may be able to identify some of these and help you to prepare appropriate contingency plans (see The Complete Time Management package).

If you work in an organisation that encourages a non-blame culture you are much more likely to get staff members coming to you to discuss potential obstacles. Encourage dialogue.

Entrenched ideas

With new ideas comes resistance. If you wish to introduce a new way of working you must anticipate problems and try to explain your reasoning behind it. If people have been doing a job in a particular way for years they are going to think it must already be the best way by default.

If you put forward a new idea anticipate possible resistance and ask if anyone knows of a better way.
Problems here may raise themselves in a slightly different way. It might be that the resistance to the new idea is that they don’t think it will work. Again explain your reasoning and if necessary accept the responsibility.