There is a big needs-gap in human resource services. In the workplace, there are typically specific roles for coaching, therapy, and mentorship, but there is one area that none of those roles technically covers. When there is a high performer who wants strengths-training, they get a coach. When someone wants guidance from a person with experience in their field or industry, they seek out a mentor. If someone is having mental health issues, they can get therapy. 

But what about those folks (and there are many) who are struggling with their performance on the job? What does one do, for instance, when their manager tells them they need to improve their time management skills or their communication style? How about those unfortunate souls who find themselves on a Performance Improvement Plan? For most leadership coaches, such corrective action or progressive discipline cases are out of scope. They simply do not take on clients who are referred to them due to poor performance. Instead people are left to either fend for themselves, or managers are forced to carve time out of their already busy schedules to help (whether they are qualified to provide that help or not).

Often lacking in many organizations is a Performance Advisor—someone who can work with people who are struggling and get them back up to speed. Performance advisors could collaborate with the client’s manager when appropriate to find where the client needs to focus their development, and check-in regularly to see if progress is being made. 

In some cases, people who are coaches may also be performance advisors, but the work they would do in those two roles would be different. The relationship with the client who needs performance advising would likely be more prescriptive than in coaching relationships, and the determination of progress would often be dependent on the client’s supervisor. 

An added benefit of this new role would be clear delineation of roles among other workplace advocates. Below is a chart that attempts to break out the differences among those roles. 

What are your thoughts? Does your institution or organization have performance advisor roles? Are you a coach who does performance advisor work? Would it help to make a distinction between those roles?

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