What Do I Do About Underperforming Coaches?

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So you’ve got your org chart filled up.  You’ve got your 1 to 5 ratio (coach to leader) and it all looks good…on paper.  There’s just one problem.  Life change doesn’t happen on paper.  Life change is a result of an actual life touching another actual life.

Life change happens when life touches life.  And if you want anything to happen at the member level your leaders need the personal touch of an influential someone who is actually doing the right things.  How do you know whether they’re doing the right things?  That’s not the question today (Take a few minutes and read Diagnosing the Coaches in Your System).

Today’s question is, “What do I do about an underperforming coach?”  And I need to tell you that there is a simple (but hard to do) answer.  You need to do three things:

First, if you recruited them based on a job description, you need to take the time to measure engagement.  If you’re expecting certain things you need to know that only what you inspect will happen.  In other words…you need to have a way to evaluate whether they’re actually doing what they signed on to do.  This might be as simple as asking your coaches to turn in a form that lets them report things like:

  • conversations they’ve had
  • what are the best things happening in their groups
  • what are the worst things happening in their groups
  • which of their groups have more than one facilitator
  • which of their groups meet at more than one location

In addition, you might want to begin asking your group leaders for general feedback.  One of the questions might be, “What is the best thing about having a coach?”  Another might be, “Is it helpful for you to have a coach?”

If you recruited them without a job description (or maybe you’ve grandfathered them in from an earlier administration), you’ll want to fix that.  Don’t let that condition persist.  Schedule a time to sit down with them, go over expectations, and ask them whether they want to play under these conditions.

Second, since underperformance is sometimes a result of unclear expectations, you’ll want to actually go over the job description with them.  If you’ve never done that, it’s just time to get started and there’s no time like the present.  Here are several questions I’ve learned to ask:

  • What’s your favorite part about being a coach?
  • What’s part do you like the least?
  • How could we improve the experience for our leaders?
  • How could we improve the experience for you?

These are key questions because the ideal scenario is one where the coach is both fruitful and fulfilled.  One without the other (either one without the other).  Since it is very possible for some to be fulfilled personally but not actually doing the things that help leaders, asking these questions might help you help them find a way to serve where they can be fruitful.

Finally, any kind of review should lead to either helping them begin to do the things that they’ve committed to do or assisting them in finding another way to serve.  Although it can be awkward…no one is served by simply looking the other way.

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