Dear Faculty Relations - What is meant by holding a coaching discussion with staff? How can I be an effective supervisor?  

Dear Effective Supervisor - Remember the performance review and performance planning you had to do this past summer to review your university staff and research faculty? Now, you engage with them in a coaching session about halfway through the year to let them know how they are doing, clarify expectations, and make any needed changes to their goals.

The coaching discussion is a formal conversation during which supervisors and employees discuss performance related to the goals and core competencies outlined in the employee's performance plan. 

When working with your employees on their formal coaching sessions, consider the following: 

  • Discuss the employee's performance for the entire cycle up to this point.

  • Discuss any notes you have kept up to this point regarding the employee's performance, including any disciplinary communications/actions. 

  • Discuss and revise all goals within a performance plan to ensure the content, measurement method, tasks and targets, weights, and timeframe are still SMART. Are they still Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound? And if not, what edits should be made to make them SMART? Do timeframes need to change, or does the direct report need additional training or resources? 

  • Does the plan help align an employee’s work and campus resources to clearly defined institutional aspirations and imperatives (goals)? If not, what edits need to be made to make it so? 

  • Does the plan establish clear expectations between employees and supervisors around work, professional development, and career growth opportunities? If not, what edits need to be made? Can clear deadlines, measurement factors, and behavioral expectations be added? 

  • Does the plan reinforce organizational values by placing appropriate emphasis on competencies? (Please note that an additional competency has been added to the performance planning form in support of Inclusive Excellence).   

Remember, performance plans are not static; they are meant to be altered and changed throughout the cycle year, depending on situational factors that change (i.e., perhaps funding changes, the employee goes on FMLA, there are changes to strategic visioning or goals, etc.).  

Competencies are a great way to measure the “soft skills” imperative for a professional and successful work environment. Be clear and specific about the behaviors and communication styles that are expected. 

For the most current Boulder campus performance management program forms and user guides, please visit HR Performance

For tips regarding supporting and developing employee learning and training in a virtual setting, please visit the CU Boulder Organizational Development site.  

Written by Kelly Leandro, Assistant Director of Employee Relations, and Natan Tuchman, IT Program Manager, Department of Human Resources