Employer Insights

Performance Management: Evaluations and Effective Coaching

by Employer Pass, on Jun 9, 2021 9:48:00 AM

Evaluations and effective coaching, when implemented using the right style, encourages employee development and growth. 

Setting the Stage

Let’s break down the differences between evaluations and effective coaching. They are two very different parts of performance management.

What are Performance Evaluations?

Performance evaluations provide feedback and set clear expectations of employees. When you have a well-structured performance evaluation it will connect with how an employee performs on a day-to-day basis by using the company strategy. Also, it documents the employees’ performance as a part of compensation management. Performance management is an ongoing process.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a way to help your employees become star performers. With coaching, the goal is to give employees feedback that they will apply in their job. Do this by giving your employees a format where they are able to discover solutions to any problems they may stumble upon. Coaching provides an environment that engages your workforce and helps foster independence within your company. 

Should I Use Performance Evaluations or Coaching?

The answer is, use both! Coaching helps employees develop over time and carry out their current duties more effectively. It focuses on continuous improvement of the entire performance management cycle. 

Performance evaluations, which are typically conducted annually with the assistance of HR software, document the employees’ performance goals, objectives, and development. They assess performance from the prior period and set objectives for the upcoming period. 


The definition of coaching is, “a style of management primarily characterized by asking questions in order to help (employees) fulfill their immediate responsibilities more effectively and advance their development over time.”

Coaching places ownership of the employees’ performance with both the employee and the manager. It creates regular and open communication while supporting and encouraging the employee from both the manager and the company. 

Coaching Versus progressive Discipline 

Coaching and progressive discipline get easily confused. 

A benefit of progressive discipline is that it provides clear expectations and consequences. However, this can often lead to resentment and no change in the employee. Progressive discipline includes:

  • Verbal counseling
  • Written warnings
  • Other consequences such as suspension or performance implemented plans

Create a Coaching environment

This is where a supervisor helps an employee reach their full potential. In order for coaching to be effective, the right culture must exist. Managers should view themselves as a facilitator that helps the employee reach their highest potential. 

Managers should exhibit trust and open communication. This encourages full participation and openness. It allows employees to see the purpose of focusing on their development and ensures issues don’t go unaddressed. Managers need to let employees feel “heard.” They should set an example with their actions and always encourage employees to be themselves and give input. As a manager sees growth in the employee it is important to provide them with recognition.

Facilitate Employee Led Solutions 

The goal is for employees to find the solution to any issues that may arise instead of depending on the manager to handle them. The manager’s role is to help the employee figure out the solution with questions. Keep questions broad and open-ended. An open-ended question does not allow for a “yes” or “no” response. An example of an open-ended question may be, “What is the status?” versus “Are you finished?”

Project Management

You may need to help an employee with a project. Typically employees without much experience in projects need some assistance in the management of it. Large projects can be intimidating and cause employees to feel overwhelmed. All they need is someone to help break the project down into steps. Asking simple questions can help employees feel like their project is more manageable. Use questions such as, “Envision that you are finished with this project. Describe the finished product.”

Project Feedback

You may use coaching questions when utilizing project feedback once the employee has completed the project. You can give constructive criticism, but it is more effective if you facilitate the employee into finding their own conclusion concerning what worked well and what could have gone better. Some examples of questions could be:

  • What is the desired message of this presentation?
  • How effective do you think it is at communicating that message?

Performance Evaluation

The definition of performance evaluation is, “the process of reviewing how well employees perform their duties during a specified period of time.”

The purpose of a performance evaluation is to give performance feedback and recognition. Discuss areas of improvement and identify development for the future. Link performances to any compensation decisions. Feedback and support are crucial at every step. The performance management cycle is as follows:

  1. Performance Planning
  2. Coaching
  3. Performance Assessment
  4. Appraisal or Evaluation 


It is common to have an annual employee review. However, more frequent evaluations provide more flexibility to match the ever-changing work conditions and needs. This allows you to both recalibrate employees’ goals and discuss mid-year corrections when performance isn’t meeting expectations. 


The format of your evaluation can vary. Some companies have completely wiped out any use of a written evaluation and this can cause a variety of problems. You need to be certain that in your format there is a place for formal feedback. This is hard to implement without a performance evaluation. Possible pieces of the evaluation can be:

  • Manager review
  • Self-assessment
  • Co-worker assessment
  • Goal setting

The Meeting and Follow Up

Typically both the manager and the employee have forms to complete. There are different ways this process can move as far as timing. It’s simpler if the employee receives the manager’s written assessment prior to the meeting so they can process any emotion ahead of time and know what to expect. This also gives the employee an opportunity to come prepared with any questions. 

To ensure a successful meeting the manager should be prepared and set a comfortable environment. It is important managers lead the discussion but not monopolize it. Always begin with a positive before going into constructive criticism. Be sure to end the meeting in a positive tone.

When following up be sure to complete and revise any documentation and include it in the employee file. Calendar any meeting that will be necessary to follow up on specific action items. It is always a good idea to do informal and frequent check-ins on the employees’ goals. 

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Topics:Human ResourcesPerformance Management

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