HR Editorial

An Alternative Approach: Performance Coaching vs Progressive Discipline

May 31, 2022
5 Minute Read

Originally posted on HR Dive.

Continuous improvement of workforce quality should be top of mind for all HR leaders. Knowing that every single employee contributes to the success or failure of your business is just a small portion of the equation. The key is finding the secret sauce to employee performance. There are many factors that influence employee performance including but not limited to: your company’s onboarding process, workplace culture, salary, benefits package, and performance management. 

Performance management is an ongoing day to day process and involves open and clear communication between manager and employee and ultimately supports the strategic objectives of the organization. The way in which each organization chooses to manage employee performance, or lack thereof, is ultimately up to the organization and there isn’t one correct answer. Two of the most popular methodologies are progressive discipline and performance coaching which sit at opposing sides of the debate.

What is progressive discipline?

Progressive discipline is a standard disciplinary practice in which behavioral issues among employees are addressed by a range of mild to severe measures. Generally speaking, a progressive discipline system has somewhere between three to five steps starting with a verbal warning then to a written warning followed by a performance improvement plan and ultimately ending with termination.

This methodology provides clear expectations, addresses performance in an objective way that command’s the employees attention, and creates a paper trail. On the flip side, progressive discipline can appear unfair at times as the same behavior across different employees may warrant very different consequences. It can also be very time consuming and at times may seem impractical given the extended time duration.

What is performance coaching?

Performance coaching is a different methodology that exists when a leader coaches team members to develop and improve over time. The leader acts as a coach for employees delegating challenging assignments, while still providing access to the tools needed for success.

This methodology is generally enjoyed by employees, provides clear expectations and can work to identify weaknesses and transform them into strengths when executed well. However, this approach is time intensive, requires an abundance of patience, requires good coach(es), requires commitment from both sides and needs good chemistry in order to be successful.

An alternative approach

Generally speaking, without weighing any other factors, most people would agree that they would rather work in a positive encouraging environment where they were empowered to be their best. Taking the most effective portions of each approach, an organization can create a hybrid that is not time intensive, delivers complete documentation, provides coaching and also holds employees accountable.

First and foremost, the policy must be consistent, fully documented and provided to all employees. The language within the document should be clear, concise and easy to consume. In addition, managers should possess the coaching skill set and use the process to support, not drive, their leadership. An emphasis should be placed in the document on transparency. No employee should be blindsided by performance concerns – they should be a part of day to day conversations.

Helpful Hint: Employees who have a history of work in a disciplinary environment may need some additional conversations to fully adopt and understand this new style. Be patient as those conversations occur as it takes time to unlearn items from previous experiences.

DocQ’s Performance Management Workflow

The process above is initiated by a supervisor with a quick completion of a webform. Generally speaking the webform should include employee name and contact information, the date, the action taken, the issue with details and expectations and/or goals for what needs to be achieved. It is critical to avoid any emotionally charged language while keeping the focus on coaching the employee to overcome the issue versus dictating the solution. Of course, this is accompanied by ongoing open communication between employee and supervisor - this should not be a surprise to the employee. 

DocQ’s Performance Management webform

Once the form is submitted, it takes a brief pause in HR (for acknowledgement purposes) and then proceeds to the employee. It is critical to note that the employee does not only receive the webform information but also receives a full copy of the documented policy for reference. At this point in time, the employee has had a conversation with their supervisor and can add any comments needed prior to signing. Once signed the form is then routed to their supervisor for signature and then to HR for signature and completion. 

In the above workflow, the combination of various values of action and issue are used as a category for routing within the DocQ decision engine. For example, a specific combination routes the document to the top and bottom notifications when those values are present.  All of the various options are routed through the employee to ensure complete transparency. However in the circumstance of a termination recommendation, that field is hidden within the document so it is not visible.

Helpful Hint: It is critical to a culture of transparency that this documentation occurs which supports accountability which is key for success. 

Best of both worlds

By utilizing DocQ and implementing a hybrid approach, your organization can focus time on human capital by relieving the cumbersome portions of the performance management process.

  • Standardize: Build a webform in a matter of minutes
  • Automate: Setup your workflow once and reuse it
  • Consolidate Records: Everything a single document with eSignatures and audit trails
  • Decision Engine: Customize to your process with intelligent decisioning
  • Focus on People: Spend time focusing on empowering your team
  • Save Time: Easy documentation in real time

What DocQ can do for you

Ensuring a smooth employee performance monitoring process is an important aspect of business today and this process requires flawless execution. DocQ’s no code self service process automation solution can help your company succeed. DocQ’s no code automation lets your teams define their workflows, create conditions, generate documents, obtain e-Signatures and integrate with third party systems.

Schedule a few minutes to see DocQ live today.

written by

Rachel Bucher

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