Coaching to Engage: 12 Rules to Effective, Ongoing Employee Coaching

Employee CoachingThe role of coach is extremely valued in athletics, but for some reason that belief rarely extends to the workplace. Managers are too often viewed as overseers, not mentors.

In reality, coaching is just as essential in the workplace as it is on the field or court. Employee potential is maximized when managers put their teams in a position to succeed, surround them with supporting talent, and help them develop new skills.

Great managers foster open, honest relationships with employees that motivate and engage them.

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Follow these 12 rules to 
master employee coaching and create a productive team of engaged employees.


1. Give employees regular, frequent feedback.


Intentionally set aside time to provide feedback on employee performance. Your employees want to know how their performance is viewed, what they’re doing well, and what they need to improve. Use one-on-one meetings and GOOD sessions as regular feedback periods, and consider setting reminders in your calendar to consistently provide feedback to each employee.


2. Create a culture of team feedback.


Contrary to popular belief, feedback shouldn’t just come from the manager. Strive to build a culture where 360 feedback is the norm. Employees should be encouraged to provide feedback to each other and to you, their manager. This creates an ongoing dialogue that gives everyone a voice.


3. Push employees to their attainable limits.


Although you don’t want to overwhelm employees, you should push them to the edge of their comfort zone. Bored employees are much more likely to disengage—they need to be challenged to grow. Identify each employee’s experience and skillset, and have them take on new tasks or assignments that help them expand. Be available and willing to help when questions arise.


4. Be open to employee ideas.


Listening is an essential part of coaching employees. It opens you to different concepts you hadn’t previously thought of, and it makes employees feel heard. When they feel their opinion is respected and valued, they’re far more likely to be engaged and push harder. 


5. Encourage employees to learn from others.


No two employees are exactly alike. They come from different backgrounds and have varying personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. Have them interact frequently so they teach each other new skills or approaches. Simply connecting employees with their peers opens new possibilities and creates a more connected workplace.


6. Ask employees for opinions.


Employees aren’t the only ones who can learn from each other—you can too! Keep an open mind during conversations and frequently source new ideas or tactics from them. Again, simply asking for feedback creates an open dialogue and gives employees a voice, making the workplace feel like a democracy instead of a dictatorship.


7. Build confidence.


As you coach employees and provide feedback, it’s critical that you instill them with confidence. Look for opportunities to recognize employees for strong performance and extra effort. Acknowledging employees’ contributions boosts their confidence and sets them up for success.


8. Don't do employees' work for them.


When you notice an assignment is proceeding slowly or heading in the wrong direction, you might be tempted to take it into your own hands and simply complete it yourself. This might be beneficial in the short term, but employees need to learn through trial and error. Instead of taking the task off their hands, teach them how to handle the situation by offering guidance.


9. Tolerate occasional failure.


Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. Mistakes will be made and deals will fall through – it’s just a part of work. But how you respond is what really matters. Don’t accept failure and move on, because this can create a lower standard for performance expectations.

At the same time, don’t crush employees for their mistakes. Instead, have them explain what went wrong and explain how they could have executed better. Remain positive and solution-oriented.


10. Recognize employees often.


When an employee succeeds or goes over the top, let them know that you noticed. Even things as simple as a thank-you note, a cup of their favorite coffee drink, or a shout-out during the next team meeting can go a long way toward securing buy-in and building a stronger team.


11. Make a goals roadmap.


If you hope to get everyone pushing in the same direction, you need to show them where to go. Goals are the most clear and effective way to do so. Sit down with employees to create personal goals that help them develop and further their careers, as well as goals that will contribute to the benchmarks of the team and the organization as a whole.


12. Ask what you can do to help.


Good coaches don’t just throw their players into competition and say, “figure it out.” They’re actively encouraging and searching for solutions to help athletes succeed. Let your employees know they can come to you with questions or concerns. You’re there to help them, and they should feel comfortable asking for advice and or assistance.



Looking for more advice on employee coaching? Download our ebook, Coaching Employees for High Performance.New Ebook! Coaching Employees for High Performance