The Late (and Early) Stage Coaching Model Revisited

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • How do I make a poor performer better?
  • How do I prepare to fire someone?
  • How do I discuss my team member's poor performance?

Last week, we covered at a high-level the Late Stage Coaching model, or the process you go through when having to fire someone. As we noted then, and we'll say again now, this process isn't really a "how to fire someone", but rather, how to develop someone. In most cases, if you follow this model, you NEVER get to the step where you have to fire someone. Now, isn't that an experience we'd all like to avoid?

Warning: For some of you, this show may sound repetitive. To some degree, it is. If you fully understand the model AND have implemented it, we beg your forgiveness. If you haven't, however, listen on ...

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Sorry just catching up on some

Sorry just catching up on some pod-casts and you have dealt with this later but a question re the example of Jan. You have assumed that is what happened...wouldn't you check out what Jans opinion was first? Also if you allow other people to come to you are you not undermining the manager? Would you not ask the person to give Jan the feedback?

Sorry if this is covered later...would love your thoughts

Anna- Not sure which example you're


Not sure which example you're referring to here? What's the situation we're addressing?


Sorry! When someone comes to complain

Sorry! When someone comes to complain to you about Jan and how she spoke to then suggested how to feedback this to Jan. My issue with this approach is that you are assuming that the person who is telling you is telling the whole story...I would prefer to get Jans opinion on how the conversation went before giving her feedback from a third party? Also if you accept feedback from a subordinate of Jan without getting them to address it with Jan first, are you not undermining Jan? Hope this explains my concerns?

Anna- Yes, in the situation you're


Yes, in the situation you're referring to, I made an assumption about the accuracy of the feedback. The point I was making was about delivering feedback, as opposed to the many man y subtleties of situations like this one.

I agree - it's god to get your data right. I do NOT generally go ask for someone's side of things. Remember, though, that MY definition of feedback is that it's nearly trivial - it's like breathing. I don't think, as I suspect you might, that talking to Jan about what happened is any big deal at all. So, if I'm wrong, it won't matter too much.

I think when we 'get Jan's opinion', we immediately create a conflict between two sides of the story. If I believe the info, I act. If not, I wait and pay attention. Believe me, if you go ask Jan, she's going to react negatively to the implication, and it's unlikely her version won't be skewed in her favor.

And, no, I don't think I'm undermining Jan, though I would expect the person to talk to Jan first. I'm not a mediator. If I shut down the possibility of someone coming to me who works for Jan, that's worse than potentially making her uncomfortable. This is a simple open door policy, and it is UNBREAKABLE. If someone has a concern, they can ALWAYS come to me. Yes, it's possible some will abuse it. In which case, the rule still stands, but I give feedback to the abuser.

Hope this helps. Keep asking if not.


No I understand your points. I would

No I understand your points. I would probably handle it slightly differently - just because I believe giving Jan the feedback directly without asking her - for example "How is the project going?" and "How is your relationship with x" Before giving her the feedback as it gives her a chance to raise any issues or conflicts. This can then be worked on. If she didn't offer anything I would still then raise the feedback with her......But take your point just different styles.
Glad you clarified the second one - making sure that they have raised with Jan first as that didn't come through on the podcast. I see so often people trying to use the boss of their boss to deliver feedback rather than giving it direct. This just leads to further conflict and undermines the with you, if that fails my door is then open for them....thanks for the clarification

Great work - love these podcasts!

Mark, during this podcast you mentioned

Mark, during this podcast you mentioned that you had a very frank conversation with an HR executive about your opinions of HR. I am an HR manager, and I would be very interested in hearing your opinions because I respect them.

James Morse

James- Briefly, my experience with


Briefly, my experience with HR has been less than positive. I believe the role has morphed into something terribly ineffective (though at a firm your size, it could be done very well.)

All you need do is ask a hundred line managers or executives what they think of HR, and you'll know. They think about HR the way they think about lawyers.

Those who are exceptions to this rule are those who are running HR effectively, where the HR department SERVES the organization by focusing on systematic and systemic sourcing, hiring, on-boarding, development and retention of people.

Most HR orgs are all about policy, and are full of people who want to have a "career" in HR. Some of them have never been a manager. Gotta tell you, some HR guy tells ME I can't fire someone because of some policy, and he hasn't been a manager, I'd say (have said), "watch me and try to stop me."

There oughtn't be a career in HR except in benefits and personnel law, neither of which should lead to C-Suite leadership. Mangers ought to move in and out of HR.

Now, one of the best people I've EVER known, Melinda Reeves, is an HR exec, and I'd work for her in a New York minute. And that's because she thinks like a manager helping other managers.

Done right, HR is a huge advantage. Almost no one does it right.

That help? (Sorry).


Mark: I totally agree with you about


I totally agree with you about HR's role. In a Fortune 100 firm I was a career benefits and personnel law person. When I moved to "front line" HR I thought HR was like what you say it should be -- serves the organization. Was I ever caught off guard!

In my current organization I am the first HR person. My goal is help managers to become as effective as possible, and to leave behind an HR department that always works toward that goal.