Do you have two minutes?

heat_20120607142627_640_480It is over 90 degrees and humid in Minnesota this week. When you step outside it is important to stay focused on your goal and minimize wasted effort, otherwise the oppressive heat can overwhelm you. The same thing can happen when coaching the poor performance of a member of your team.  You feel the heat of the upcoming interaction and avoid taking action or you get overwhelmed and distracted while trying to coach. Either way, you end up drained and the oppressive issue is still hovering “outside” waiting for you.

When you know you have to face the heat and take action I have found that a simple process that helps leaders stay focused and dive in. It’s called the Two Minute Challenge based on The Practical Coach training program. There are only five steps:

  1. State what you’ve observed – what happened.
  2. Wait for their response.
  3. Remind them of the desired behavior, expected performance or goal.
  4. Ask for their specific solutions.
  5. Agree on a solution.

No more, no less! The magic of having a short “script” keeps the coaching focused on the behavior and a solution. It is a roadmap that can provide confidence to start the conversation and the clarity needed to stay on track during the heat of the interaction.

A short time ago I received a call from a leader who told me that he had been dreading meeting with one of his team members. There was a performance issue and he was worried about how the person would react when he addressed it. After learning The Two Minute Challenge he decided to jot down the five steps on his note pad and have the meeting the next day. He stuck to his plan, followed the steps and the meeting did not spiral out of control. It wasn’t fun, but they stayed on track and came up with a realistic plan for improvement. He shared that the meeting ended up being less stressful than the anxiety he experienced worrying about it. He was also confident that the team member understood the importance of the issue and his responsibility for taking action. The five clear steps kept him from getting distracted and able to keep the focus on the employee’s behavior and accountability for improvement.

When you are facing the heat of needing to coach a poor performer take a cool two minute break, review the five steps and then dive in!

Todd Thorsgaard


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