Where there are specific, identifiable problems with an employee’s performance, the way in which a supervisor informally corrects problems typically begins with a discussion about expectations.  It is important to recognize that it can be very difficult for a supervisor to advise an employee that there are concerns with his/her performance, but honesty and precision about the source(s) of dissatisfaction and about future expectations for the employee are very important to the employee's understanding of the problem and his/her ability to improve. 
Coaching is a means by which a supervisor may help an employee to develop the employee’s skills and knowledge, and primarily deals with specific tasks and skills that must be mastered in order for the employee to be successful in the position.  The supervisor, as “coach,” works with the employee in a cooperative way to identify those areas where the employee might need to develop new skills, or improve existing ones, and provides support and encouragement to help the employee to achieve his or her goals.

It is appropriate to include specific examples of the areas in which the employee is performing well – but remember: vagueness and generalities or glossing over the more problematic areas of performance or behavior likely will leave the employee feeling uneasy and unsure of what is expected.  Without specific information and direction, the employee is unlikely to improve. 

Remember to keep criticisms free of non work-related matters and be as unemotional as possible, even though the situation is often stressful to you as a supervisor as well as to the employee.


This information is only a summary. Please refer to source documents or contact your personnel office with specific questions.