Tips for Coaching Employees
A critical part of being an effective manager or leader is coaching your employees.
Coaching refers to inspiring employees to learn and develop in order to help them achieve their full potential. Coaching can be formal (i.e., in a scheduled meeting) or informal (i.e., in the moment and on the job). Below we outline some tips for both formal and informal coaching.
Tips for formal coaching
Schedule and plan for the coaching meeting
Formal coaching meetings should be scheduled in advance. Before the meeting it is important to prepare by creating a meeting agenda and reviewing any relevant information (e.g., assessment results, learning plans, etc.). The frequency of formal coaching meetings will depend on the employee and their needs.
Build trust and create a coachee-centered relationship
Establishing trust is essential for effective coaching. If employees do not trust their coach, they will not be willing to share their issues and concerns. As a coach, it is important for you to show that you actually care about the development of the employee, rather than just checking a box. If the coaching relationship is new, it is often a good idea to have a first meeting to get to know each other and set the stage for the coaching relationships before diving into the first coaching session.
Be present and listen carefully
It is critical to listen carefully and be fully present during the coaching conversation. In order to be a good coach, you need to be a good listener. This will help you to understand the issues, and also help you to ask effective and powerful questions.
Avoid giving advice
When presented with a problem it is human nature to want to offer advice. Unfortunately, giving advice is not a good strategy for coaching. If you tell people what do to, they will be less likely to learn. Instead of giving advice, try approaching the coaching conversation from a place of curiosity and ask good questions that get at the root of the issue. Even if you know what the best solution is, try using a questioning method to help the employee arrive at the solution on his or her own.
Ask good open-ended questions
Asking good and powerful questions is key to effective coaching. Here are some coaching questions to get you started:
- What’s on your mind?
- What’s the main challenge you are facing?
- What else?
- How can I help you?
Tips for informal coaching
Create coaching moments
Informal coaching can happen anytime and anywhere. Any moment can be a coaching moment. For example, an employee might approach you to ask a question or you might walk by and observe an employee completing a task. Turn these quick interactions into coaching moments by teaching employees a new skill or asking them effective questions to help them uncover improvements themselves.
Ask effective questions
Asking good questions leads to good conversations that can enhance learning and development in any situation. Some effective in the moment question include:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go too well?
- What was particularly challenging?
- What would you do differently next time?
To learn more about best practices in using competencies for all of your Learning and Development activities, check out our Learning and Development Toolkit!