Coaching High Achievers Gets Results

Posted in : Coaching in the Moment on 7 May 2019
Karl O'Connor
OCN Coaching Champions Ltd
Issues covered:

Your time is limited. You have two performers on your team that you need to talk to, one is performing poorly while the other is a Star Performer (see last month’s Skill-Will article). Which person do you focus on first?

When we ask this question at performance management and coaching workshops, the majority say that they would focus on the poor performer in the first instance. Is that always the most effective use of your time?

Coaching in the Moment

The Challenge

Poor performers often take up a huge amount of our time, while we leave our high performers to ‘get on with it’.

The Solution

For greater results, focus on high-achievers first and then address poor performers.

Takeaway Actions

Focus more on high achievers as they can deliver even stronger results. Coach using the Appreciative Inquiry approach.

One way of doing this with high-achievers is to coach them to achieve a mastery skill level over time. We recommend an Appreciative Inquiry approach to coaching especially for high-achievers as it is based on developing their existing strengths.

Appreciative Inquiry: A positive coaching approach

Discovery:  Start by identifying what is currently working well. During this diagnosis, focus on helping the star performer recall the conditions surrounding their positive experiences.

Sample Questions: How did [the task/experience] make you feel? What worked for you? What did you do that helped you to get the desired results? 

Dream: Encourage your star performer to imagine their ideal situation, what could be their future way of working.  As Steven Covey teaches in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: begin with the end in mind.

Sample Questions: Now imagine if you could do this all the time, what would that look like? How would you be doing your job?

Design: Brainstorm ideas about what would have big impact moving the individual from their current situation toward their ideal. What can they do?

Sample Questions: What are your ideas to help move from what’s happening today to your ideal situation? What three things would significantly help you move forward? What are the pros and cons of each idea?

Deliver: Transform the ideas into actions the individual is ready to take to make the dream happen. What will they do? Then sustain it by empowering, learning, adjusting or improvising.

Sample Questions: What will you start doing to move towards your ideal? When will you start? Who will you need to contact to help you? What would you like your line manager to do? What will you stop doing, if anything, to make time for the new actions? What will you continue doing that will help you?

Your high-achievers are the key talent that you need to retain and develop. Coaching them to be the best that they can be using an Appreciative Inquiry approach will deliver results.


In next months blog, we will focus on another future focused coaching technique called ‘feedforward’.

The content of this article was provided by Karl O'Connor and Cariona Neary, OCN Coaching ChampionS.

If you have any workplace problems you think might benefit from a coaching approach, contact or


This article is correct at 07/05/2019

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Karl O'Connor
OCN Coaching Champions Ltd

The main content of this article was provided by Karl O'Connor. Email

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