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The Ways to Improve Management Skills in Ferdinand Fournies’ Coaching for Improved Work Performance

Before reading Coaching for Improved Work Performance by Ferdinand Fournies I have a preconceived idea that it will be a book about improving management skills. I think that it is a good idea for all managers to read this book before stepping up to the management role. It also seems like a book that managers should keep looking back on whenever they have a problem. This book will help shape individuals into a better manager by changing the way that they think. It will also help a manager overcome many problems that they may face.

Why Managers Fail as Coaches

Many managers fail at having an effective face-to-face meeting because they lack proper training. Many managers don’t know the truth about what management is. They don’t completely understand what they should do as a manager. Often when they fail it is because they haven’t had the proper training. “If you don’t know what you are doing, you can’t teach your employees how to do it, much less measure whether or not they are doing it correctly” (Fournies, 2000, p. 7). It is important for managers to get tasks done through others so it is very important for them to know what they are doing. A manager gets rated on how successful their employees are. If an employee is struggling they should help them. Managers get paid for what their employees do rather than what they do themselves. A manager needs his or her employees more than they need him or her. Employees can get the job done without a manager but a manager can not get the whole job finished without employees helping. It is very important for managers to remember this to become more successful. When a manager forgets this, they often start to belittle their employees and talk harshly to them. (Fournies, 2000, p. 1-11)

So What Does All This Mean?

“The only reason for you to be there as a manager is to do everything in your power to help them be as successful as you need them to be. You succeed only when they succeed” (Fournies, 2000, p.12). A manager should never want to see their employees fail. A failure in one of the manager’s employees is a failure to the manager. Managers should not use the “I’m only human” excuse. They should remember that although they have many employees, each of those employees only has one manager. They should not take their anger out on their employees. Managers should realize that people are a resource. Often time, it will cost less to help an employee succeed than it will cost to hire a new employee.(Fournies, 2000, p. 12-28)

Motivation – The Theories You Can and Can’t Use

One way to see what motivates an individual is to look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is also important to realize that the needs may change so the individuals’ motivation will change also. Although this would be a good technique, it is hard for a manager to gauge. Another way to look at motivation is the theory X versus theory Y model by Douglas McGregor. The fault in this theory is that it really goes back to what the managers believe their employees can do rather than what motivates their employees. Another way to look at what motivates employees is to look at what satisfies and dissatisfies them. It is important to remember that just because a manager fixes something that dissatisfies their employees does not mean that they are satisfied. It is important to also look at what satisfies them to see what motivates them. Employees like to know their manager sees their achievements. It is important for managers to commend them on their achievements. (Fournies, 2000, p. 29-53)

An Alternative to Psychotherapy

When a manager labels an employee as something such as lazy, it is hard for the manager not to believe that. When an individual has many alternatives, they will choose the one that is the best fit for them, if that one does not work they will go to the next one. It is easier for a manager to pinpoint the alternatives rather than their motives. It is important for a manager to realize that they cannot know the attitudes of their employees at all time. The reason for this is because sometimes, we don’t know the attitude we have. Also, it’s hard to understand someone’s attitude because many people lie about their attitude. (Fournies, 2000, p. 54-66)

A Theory You Can Put to Practical Use

When an individual change their behavior, there will either be a positive or negative consequence. If there is a positive consequence then the behavior is likely to repeat. “Any consequences that occurs after an action and increases the frequency of that action is called a positive reinforcer” (Fournies, 2000, p. 69). This is important to know because sometimes positive reinforcers as used even when there should be negative consequences. Negative and positive consequences are perceived by the individual that receives them rather than the individual that is initiating the consequence. When a manager always gives important tasks to a select individual because they always do the job well, it lets other employees know that their screw-ups make it less likely for them to be given tasks. They are likely to continue to have screw-ups every occasionally, so they will not be given as much work. This is something to be cautious of as a manager. It is important for a manager to be able to separate themselves from their behavior so they can then do the same with their employees. (Fournies, 2000, p. 67-82)

Avoiding the Communication Problem

It is very important that a manager knows how to communicate properly. It is important to know that our minds are reactive. Instead of thinking about what someone says, we react before they finish what they say. We like to trust people based on their actions. If a manager wants an employee to trust them they should show them why they should be trusted. Body language and facial expressions really say a lot about what is being thought. While the manager may think they are hiding their body language and facial expressions, it is actually very hard to do. A manager should be able to communicate what they are thinking through their employees. This will take some practice but it will make communication much better. The employees will think it’s their ideas even though the manager initiated the idea. The best way for a manager to communicate is to not answer their own questions. When they ask a question, they should shut up and not answer the question themselves. Let the employee answer it. (Fournies, 2000, p. 83-91)

A Practical Approach to Managing People in Business

Many problems with employees start with how they are being managed. An employee will not know what to do if their manager does not instruct them on what to do or does not teach them how to do it. “If your employees have the ability to do something and have been trained how to do it, but the consequences are not reinforcing for doing it, you can reasonably expect performance not to occur” (Fournies, 2000, p. 97). It is important to have the appropriate consequences for each performance. It is important for managers to know why their employees are not completing tasks as they think they should be completed for them to fix the problem. (Fournies, 2000, p. 92-100)

The Magic of Feedback

It is always important for a manager to give feedback. If there is no feedback being given then the employee may not know if they did a good job or a bad job. “About 50 percent of what appear to be motivational problems in business are actually feedback problems” (Fournies, 2000, p. 103). While employees know that what they are doing may not be right, often they will continue to do it because there is no feedback. Even if a manager thinks performance cannot be managed by a specific task, there is always some way to measure the performance. (Fournies, 2000, p. 101-106)

Coaching Analysis

Asking employees why they are not improving at work is not a bad thing. It shows them that their errors are not going unnoticed. I think the coaching analysis on page 109 is something that managers should print out and hang on their wall so they can look on it whenever they need to. It is important for a manager to understand what is going wrong before they try to fix the problem and to say what they mean. It is important for a manager not to assume that one employee is absent more than another. There must be evidence proven before going to an employee and telling them this. Before making a rule, a manager must ask themselves if it is related to the job at hand. If not, it is just a waste of time to put that rule in place. When giving an employee a task, it is important to make sure the employee knows what is being asked of them. If they don’t know what is being asked of them, they can’t produce the quality work that the manager is wanting. Sometimes, it’s not the employees’ fault that they don’t know what they are doing. Sometimes in training, the trainer does not know how to effectively teach. To see if the training that the employees attended worked, it is important to test them about the important parts of the training. If there is something that can really go wrong due to lack of knowledge, test them over it. When trying to change the way an employee does something, it is important that the employee know the manager knows what they are doing. It is important to convince them that the managers way will work or if not, the manager will take the blame. Managers may have to tell their employees what is most important at a given time because sometimes the employee may think something else is the most important. Positive reinforcement is important because people like to be praised and rewarded for hard work. (Fournies, 2000, p. 107-155)

Coaching: The Face-to-Face Discussion

“The purpose of the face-to-face process is to redirect an employee’s behavior to solve a performance problem” (Fournies, 2000, p. 156). A manager should check over the coaching analysis before having a face-to-face coaching discussion. The manager must plan for the discussion. They should prepare where it will be held, what the discussion will be about, and some alternative actions. The managers first step in the discussion is to show the employee that there is a problem and get them to agree that they do see that there is a problem. This could be difficult because many employees don’t see what they are doing as wrong. If the employee does not agree that there is a problem, don’t continue to step 2 because the problem will not be solved unless they agree that it is a problem. The coaching discussion plan is very helpful because it helps lead the discussion. Step 2 of the process requires the employee and the manager to work together to come up with alternatives. After the alternatives are found, step 3 is for the employee and manager to work together to find the alternative(s) that works best for them to solve the problem. They should also discuss when the alternatives will start to take place. Step 4 is to make sure the alternatives are taking place. An employee may be upset if they take actions to change their behavior but the manager does not notice it. Step 5 is to reinforce the achievement. This is important because most employees enjoy recognition. When they are recognized for a behavior, they will continue with that behavior. (Fournies, 2000, p. 156-188)

But What If It Doesn’t Work

If the employee does not change their behavior after the coaching discussion, it is important to have another meeting and remind them of what they said during the meeting. They should know that they did not keep their work and that the employment relationship has been burdened. If it continues to happen, the only option is to fire them. (Fournies, 2000, p. 189-197)

The Requirements for You to Be Successful in Eliminating Employees’ Unsatisfactory Performance

The manager must identify the behavior should be changed. If the manager cannotidentify the behavior, they should talk with the employee to see if they can better understand what is going on. If the employee’s behavior is not affecting the job, it should not be discussed. The employee should participate during the coaching discussion. If they do not participate, they will not retain as much information that was discussed. A manager must realize that just because something is obvious to them, it may not be obvious to the employee. A manager should lead by example. If they are taking long lunches and leaving early from work, that gives the employees the assumption that they should be able to leave early and take long lunches too. (Fournies, 2000, p. 216-221)

Conclusion

Coaching for Improved Work Performance is a book that I would reference in many management situations. It will help improve my management skills. Before I started reading the book, I felt like it would be a book that all managers should read before they accept the job, and I still feel that way. If all managers referenced this book, I think the turnover rate would be lower because managers would be more successful in their coaching.

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