Philie Group Blog

3 Steps to Sharpen Your Coaching Skills
By Mike Philie

This blog originally published in Printing Impressions


The echo’s of put me in coach, rang out from the back of the conference room when that big new project or sales lead was announced. Umm, they thought. Are they ready for this one and do they know what they’re getting into? The leader of the meeting wasn’t prepared to pick up the pieces of a failed project or lost opportunity, as there was just too much going on from a day-to-day perspective. While that may have been the outcome this time, let’s discuss what can be done to improve the chances for a better outcome in the future.


Taking a good look at your team, whether it’s your sales team, leadership team or any other group of folks in your organization, what’s the best way to objectively measure their performance? Depending on their role, there may be some clear, measurable KPI’s that you can use to evaluate their results. While those are often helpful, there are other attributes that can be equally as important. Are they on time, do they complete assignments, are they easy to work with, and among others, do they play nicely in the sandbox? We joke about it but merely getting along and being a good team member can be half the battle, The other half revolves around competency, the ability to solve problems and the desire to be engaged and make an impact on the area they work in. So what are the KPI’s for those?


Setting the stage for success is a key driver that I see in the groups that perform well. What are the expectations, how will we be able to determine if things are going the way we want them to go, and how will we help those who might struggle to keep up? Too often when someone is not able to play their position, I see managers create different jobs for those folks — move them to another area. While that may work, and in fact may be the right thing to do, what I don’t see enough of is taking that person aside and letting them know that they are not meeting your expectations. Find out what’s up. Is it an attitude or an aptitude issue? Can it be corrected or is it too far off the rails? This approach doesn’t mean that all the managers need training in career counseling. Rather, have that adult conversation with the individual and determine if things can get better with some coaching and training, or not. Give them a chance to succeed and to contribute.


During that one-on-one conversation, the goal is to determine if the situation can be salvaged, does the employee want to salvage it, and agree on the action steps and timeline that will convince BOTH OF YOU that it’s working? At those agreed to times, you both can review the progress and feedback, and take the appropriate actions. Sometimes it may be a course correction leading to even better performance and results, while at other times it might be game over.

Three Steps to Better Coaching

  1. Evaluate your team. Whether it’s through performance appraisals, 360 feedback, the departmental KPI’s or your one on one discussions, determine whether or not they are meeting your expectations, can they be helped, and do they want to be helped.
  2. Setting expectations. What’s acceptable behavior or performance in that department. What are the SMART goals that you’ve established with the employee and how will you both track it so that there are no surprises.
  3. Give them a chance to succeed. If someone is NOT meeting the expectations, you typically have four choices to make. You can try to fix it, leave it alone and hope that it gets better, just reassign the person to another area that you think they’ll be competent in or dismiss them. Maybe there’s another option too, if there is, please let me know.


Whether you are the CEO, sales manager or mailing supervisor, doing these coaching sessions is hard work and is over and above getting your normal work done. But, the results could result in an employee who got a chance to succeed, and maybe even grow in their position, and you get a loyal, engaged team member.


Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at, LinkedIn or email at 


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