The Ups and Downs of Coaching for Low Performers

The Ups and Downs of Coaching for Low Performers

One of the central debates in performance management is whether it is worthwhile for organizations to invest in improving the work of low-performing employees, or whether it makes more sense to focus on high performers and high-potentials. Recently, some major companies have started exploring ways to help low performers remedy the quality of their work, such as Amazon’s “Pivot” training program, launched in January, which provides coaching to employees on the company’s performance improvement plan. At HRE Online, Mark McGraw explores the pros and cons of coaching strategies like Pivot:

“Part of the reason that Amazon or any company might adopt this type of program for low performers is to send a message,” says [Daniel] Stewart, president of Stewart Leadership, a Portland, Ore.-headquartered talent management and leadership development consultancy. “And I have to admit, my gut reaction is that the message they want to send is not necessarily geared toward the employees in the program. They might want to let ‘the street,’ shareholders, know that they value the people who work for them.” …

“The organization is saying, ‘We hired you, therefore we believe you have something to offer,’ ” says Stewart. “That’s a meaningful thing to say, because, if Amazon or anyone else wants to hire someone, they want that person to succeed. So why not invest, as appropriate, in making sure they’re leveraging that person’s ability and potential in the right way?”

Other experts, however, believe that stronger employees should be the main targets of development programs:

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