A leaders guide to coaching

How would you like?

  • 22%

    higher profitability

  • 21%

    higher productivity

  • 65%

    less turnover rate

  • 10%

    higher customer rating?1

Looks pretty good right? This is the percentage difference between an engaged and a disengaged employee.

Effective coaching is a great way of keeping employees engaged. This article will give you some essential tips on how to coach your team to get the best results.

Why is coaching important?

The workforce is changing. Think about the team you lead. Chances are the people you lead are highly skilled in their profession. Their talent and knowledge is the reason they were hired. They are ambitious and show no hesitation to take their career into their own hands, and therefore are highly mobile. The challenge for business leaders today is to motivate, develop and retain their talent, in order to remain competitive.

Keeping these talents engaged takes more than just managing their work. Managers need to be able to coach and develop each individual.

In fact, coaching has been identified as such a powerful tool for managers that the American financial giant – Wells Fargo announced all their managers are expected to dedicate fully, two-thirds of their time to coaching their staff.2

Managing vs Coaching

It is important to know the difference between managing and coaching, and when each approach should be used. The tables below list some of the key differences, and their potential application.

What kind of team do you want?
  • Managing results in a team that is…
  • obedient
  • follows directions
  • able to deliver on short-term goals
  • looks to you for direction
  • Coaching results in a team that is…
  • able to think outside the box
  • understand their role in the bigger picture
  • plan for long-term improvements
  • confident in their own abilities
What does each approach look like?
  • Behaviours of a manager
  • telling people what to do
  • directing people on how something should be done
  • giving expert advice
  • addressing specific issues
  • Behaviours of a coach
  • listening and understanding
  • facilitating people to find their own way
  • seeking advice and input
  • keeping their focus on long-term goals
Which approach is right?
  • Managing works best for…
  • dealing with a crisis
  • someone new to the task
  • someone lacking in confidence and/or ability to perform set task
  • the task is highly technical
  • Coaching works best for…
  • dealing with day to day operations
  • a team of competent professionals
  • someone performing at a reasonably high level
  • the task requires creativity and innovation

The golden rules of coaching

These are some of the golden rules of coaching. Keep these in mind when you are planning your next coaching session.

Coaching must be founded on trust

The only way for coaching to be successful is for the employee to feel comfortable enough to discuss every aspect of an issue or challenge with you. Some of the challenges employees face may be multi-faceted, and involve personal problems or private information.

Quick tips

  • Focus completely and actively listen to the other person. Avoid distractions.
  • Avoid language, environment and nonverbal-cues that reinforces your superiority.
  • Understand when it is necessary to refer an issue to a trained professional, and seek the employee’s consent before doing so.
  • The employee’s confidentiality must be kept.
  • Never use anything discussed during a coaching conversation against the employee.
There is no fixed agenda, but have an agreed goal for each session

To get the most out of a coaching session, there should be a lot of relaxed conversation. Try and avoid following a set agenda, which could disrupt the flow of the session. Instead agree on a set goal for the session with your employee. During the session, the employee should be free to talk about any surrounding issues. Your role is to guide the direction of the conversation to arrive at the agreed goal.

Quick tips

  • Help your employee stay focused on solutions, rather than dwell on the problem
  • Make the employee accountable by asking them to plan and establish the action items themselves
  • Always follow-up and follow-through with your side of the commitment
Solutions must come from the employee

The job of a coach is to ask the right questions to help the employee arrive at their own conclusions. This is a powerful way to help people develop. The outcomes from this will motivate people and commit them to action.

Quick tips

  • Guide the employee’s solution by asking open-ended questions.
  • Use your experience to help them through a tough challenge.
  • Be sensitive and humble in the way you help people – there may be complexities you are not aware of.
  • Avoid telling people what to do, instead help them articulate their goals and challenges

Being an effective coach really pays for the organisation. Your team will be more dedicated to their work, and be motivated to achieve even more. Becoming an expert coach takes practice. Having the right tools for the job can help you plan and track your coaching conversations.

It’s handy if you can have a central place to record your coaching conversations and any action items that arise from them such as development activities. Check out our performance management system which includes some great coaching tools.


One on one conversations

How to conduct one-on-ones

One on one check-in meetings are held between a team leader and team member.

Giving feedback

How to give feedback like a pro

A critical component for every kind of manager is being able to give feedback.

360 Degree Feedback Software graph

360 degree feedback

Whether you need 360 degree feedback for a leadership development program or you are looking for a tool to integrate into your Performance Appraisal process, we have a solution for you.