Tag Archives: coaching

Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Supervisor coaching employeesBy Jennifer I. Tougas, CAPP, PhD

In emergency management circles, it’s called a “hot wash.” In the Army, it’s called “lessons learned.” In manufacturing, it’s called “continuous improvement.” What is it? It’s a process for reflecting on a process or event; capturing the good, the bad and the ugly; and taking corrective action to improve the process and avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Creating a culture of continuous improvement is critical to the success of an organization.  If we merely maintain the status quo, we fall behind because the world is constantly changing around us. Assumptions that worked one year may fail the next. Personnel changes mean knowledge and skill levels of our team change. If we are not vigilant, we fall behind as well. Without effective corrective action, operations are destined to repeat the same mistake again and again. Service to customers falls short of expectations and leads to frustrations at best, or loss of customers at worst.

As a leader, it’s important to build trust within your team so you can have honest discussions to identify problems and determine root causes. Sometimes, these can be uncomfortable conversations, particularly if someone made a mistake. There’s a balance between discipline, accountability, and coaching that allows lessons to be learned from those mistakes –and those lessons keep the organization moving forward. Forward progress is needed to make improvements.

How does your organization deal with problems? Do you find ways to reflect upon lessons learned and make changes to improve “next time?” To avoid repeating costly mistakes, develop a culture of continuous improvement within your team!

Jennifer I. Tougas, CAPP, PhD., is director of parking and transportation services at Western Kentucky University.


Correction and Encouragement

manager working with employeeBy Tiffany R. Smith

How do you reprimand a good employee? As leaders, we know good employees do bad things. The conundrum comes in how you correct bad behavior while still encouraging good.

We all make mistakes but some cause more detriment than others. And when this occurs, what do you do? One thing is for sure: We don’t do anyone any favors by sweeping the mistake under the rug under the pretense of, “well, everyone makes mistakes.” We must address the mistakes our “good” and “bad” employees make. We have to address these errors through coaching.

I believe the first time a mistake or accident occurs, it should be followed with a verbal coaching session. Take the opportunity to sit with the employee, address the concern, discuss how things should have occurred, and talk about corrective action. The hope is that they understand and avoid repeating the same mistake. That said, it is very possible that the same mistake or a similar one may reoccur. At this point, I recommend a written counseling/coaching session–same steps as before, but now with written documentation of the shortcoming. If it occurs again, progressive discipline is warranted.

It is important for leaders to help our followers by addressing their shortcomings and giving them realistic, reachable goals to improve upon going forward.

Tiffany R. Smith is director of PARC with the Parking Authority of River City, Ky.