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Coaching Employees For Success: The Complete Guide

Let our complete guide show you how coaching employees can help them succeed in their careers and support company goals. This guide answers why managers need coaching skills and how teams can collaborate instead of compete. Work efficiently, and transform the way employees see meaning in their work.

What Does It Mean To Coach An Employee?

What is employee coaching? How does team coaching improve an employees’ performance? All of these are valid questions that strongly highlight the importance and the multiple processes of coaching employees. At its core, coaching is either a one-on-one activity or a group process that involves talking through issues and problems with an employee. It’s a way for managers to help employees improve their performance and generate a multitude of benefits that help the employees’ development as well as the company.

Coaching employees through difficult situations has long been used by businesses to improve employee performance. Employee coaching as we know it today was developed in the 1900s as an answer to the Industrial Revolution in order to increase productivity. Later on, coaching employees for success has become a formal management strategy around the 1970s when it was first introduced into the business world as “counseling.” In the 1980s, Thomas Leonard formally established it as a profession—and today, team coaching owes much of its success to him.

Coaching teams and individual employees requires paying attention to their needs, their health in and relating to the workplace and proper observation and documentation in order to provide relevant feedback for improvement purposes.

In this extensive guide, we will discuss:

1. The benefits of coaching in the workplace and how coaches can improve the performance of employees

2. Coaching tips for managers

3. What great coaching for employees looks like

4. Best strategies for groups and what makes a good coach in teams

5. Best coaching tips to transform difficult and underperforming employees

6. The 5 best coaching styles for companies to multiply returns

7. Best practices in coaching for conflicts at work

8. A list of the best coaching scenarios and opportunities for leaders to build a strong team

Two women discussing designs on a computer

The Benefits of Coaching in the Workplace: How Can Coaches Improve the Performance of Employees?

The Harvard Business Review suggests that the benefits of coaching employees on professionalism don’t just end up improving their performance. They can also boost engagement and retention, as well as help employees reach all future personal and company-wide growth.

This is because coaching employees through a change of mindset is one of the most important tools for business owners and managers to help their employees succeed.

Not only that, coaching employees with bad attitudes about their work can then lead to a better quality of their life both at work and at home. It can even help create better relationships with colleagues and therefore improve collaboration and teamwork. If you are looking for ways to improve your company culture, coaching is certainly a great first step. Here are some specifics benefits:

For Employees

  • Improved productivity: Team coaching helps employees understand how their work fits into the greater goals of the organization. This gives them an incentive to put in the extra effort, as they continue to feel heard and understood. And when they feel that way, they’re more likely to take the feedback of managers seriously.

    For example, once a manager identifies that an employee isn’t meeting deadlines because he’s too focused on menial tasks and needless perfectionism, the manager can coach him on ways he can better manage his time so he can get more done in less time.
  • Better communication: When someone has been given feedback from their supervisor about how they’re doing at work, they can always improve. They’ll always have an opportunity to ask questions about anything they don’t understand or think needs improvement.

    Feedback is a crucial part of any business relationship— whether in the form of a Lean Strategy performance review or regular check-ins with your managers. It’s important to give both positive feedback and constructive criticism so that your employees know what they need to improve on.
  • Higher Morale: Employee coaching done right can improve morale by letting employees know they’re valued members of the team who are capable of doing great things toward something important together. This helps make them feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. It gives a sense of belonging that can make employees more loyal and willing to go above and beyond what’s expected of them on a regular basis.
  • Higher Growth and Development:Employee coaching sustains growth and development, which are critical aspects of staff training and employee engagement. Coaching employees also helps them to be emotionally and intellectually committed to their organization and its goals. When they are taught the right mindset in the different ways of coaching— one-on-one sessions, group training, or even coaching by email or phone—it’s easier to expect more of them.

For Managers/Supervisors/Leaders

  • Better Leadership: What makes a good coach in the workplace? A good coach is a leader who can make the employees feel supported and inspired. This doesn’t mean that they always agree with you or that they think everything you say is right. Good coaching, therefore, helps them see what’s wrong with their work performance and helps them recognize your intention is to help them succeed.

    Your employees see themselves reflected in your feedback. And so if you’re giving good feedback from a place of understanding in your coaching, empathy and respect will ensue. This will then help generate more accurate observations about their strengths and weaknesses as employees.
  • Increased confidence and competence: Why do managers need coaching skills? The simple answer is that team coaching can help managers lead employees to develop skills that they didn’t know they had, and eventually learn how to use them more effectively. This increased confidence can lead to greater job satisfaction, as well as more opportunities for promotion and growth within an organization.

For Business Owners/Employers

  • Better relationships with colleagues: Coaching helps business owners understand their employees’ perspectives better. In this way, employee coaching is a symbiotic relationship that both parties can benefit from. This easily results in more positive interactions between coworkers on projects and other work-related issues. This makes the work environment more enjoyable for everyone involved.
  • More productive workers: When employees feel supported by their managers and business owners during coaching for success, it’s easier to get things done. Instead of worrying about whether they’re doing enough, they can just do their job well according to a clear set of standards and expectations.

    The key to doing this is giving constructive criticism. If an employee is constantly doing something wrong, it’s your job as the business owner to point out where they’re going wrong. It’s the job of the coach to see how they can improve their work habits.

Why Do Managers Need Coaching Skills? Our Best Coaching Tips

Great coaches don’t just happen— they’re made. But even if many managers want to be great coaches, what if they still aren’t sure how to make that happen? What is the process for coaching employees? Better yet, what makes a good coach?

To answer these questions, we’ve gathered tips that will help managers define a good coach. In a recent study by Work Human, 40% of employees claim that lack of support from their boss affects their productivity. This means that many of the employees feel like their managers aren’t great coaches. Are you one of them?

If you think you can improve your coaching and employee care, it is time to step up and become a great coach and build strong relationships with your employees. Here are our top coaching tips for managers who want to become better coaches:

  1. Be clear about your vision for coaching. From preparing open-ended questions for coaching employees to reading the HBR’s guide to coaching, it’s always important to be clear in the direction. What outcomes do you hope for?

    You can’t expect your employees to buy in if you haven’t made your own vision clear when coaching for success. So before you start, make sure you provide convincing data from external or internal sources on why your coaching is effective. It also helps to be the best possible role model for your employees so that they respect your coaching style more.
  2. Always ask. Show employees how they can do better by asking them questions that show that you care about them. Encourage your employees to ask you questions as well and highlight that your relationship is symbiotic. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something—it shows that you’re with them on the journey and that you want their success to be at the forefront.
  3. Start small—but not too small. It’s tempting to think of coaching as something you can do on the fly or in only short bursts. But we’ve found that it’s better for everyone involved if you take the long-term approach. It’s important to really get into the nuts and bolts of each person’s situation before moving on to another issue or goal.

    That way, you’ll be able to provide focused advice that they can use right away. Instead of just giving them some general guidance, you can start with something specific that they can put into practice immediately.
  4. Understand what motivates your employees. Employees are motivated by more than a paycheck. They want to feel like they’re contributing to the success of the company and that their work has meaning. So managers should use surveys to get feedback from employees about how they see themselves within the company.
    They should know what employees think would help them be more engaged with their jobs. You can also use surveys, like the ones you may use to ​​assess customer satisfaction to find out what types of rewards your employees prefer, such as bonuses, perks or time off with family. Then you can use this information to decide which rewards will have the biggest impact.
  5. Be a good listener and get your employees to open up and be vulnerable. What is the role of HR in coaching? Human Resources Managers can be the first place where employees can feel comfortable about their struggles. It can be where they can encourage their employees to listen and start asking for coaching help. That’s why it’s important that you create an environment for them to feel comfortable doing this.

  6. Make sure you’re giving your employees enough time for feedback and coaching sessions. If your employees don’t feel like they have enough time with you, then it could cause them stress. Ensuring a good flow to these interactions makes them more likely to ask for help when they need it.
  7. Understand what coaching is—and what it isn’t. The first thing we need to understand is what a “coach” actually does. Although they are related, coaching is not mentoring because a mentor can help you find your footing, but a coach will help you reach your goals.

    A coach helps you develop skills and expertise that will help you achieve those goals. A mentor on the other hand provides general guidance and insight for employees who aren’t achieving what’s expected of them.
  8. Be consistent in your approach when giving feedback or advice to employees. This way, employees will know what kind of behavior is expected from them at work. To do this, focus on your employees’ strengths, not their weaknesses, and listen actively before sharing your own story so that you can establish trust first.

  9. Learn to delegate. One of the best coaching tips for managers who want to be great coaches is to learn how to delegate tasks and responsibilities effectively. Your team members will be more likely to feel supported if they know that their work is important and that you trust them with it. When your team members feel supported and respected, they’ll be more likely to be open to coaching even when they don’t meet expectations or fall short of goals.

    As your company grows, it is important to remember the old saying of Too many cooks spoil the broth. For even though your company may be your baby, you need to acknowledge that you cannot control every operation and in order to succeed you need to trust the competent people that you hired.
  10. Create an environment for effective coaching. The best coaches create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. This can be difficult for some leaders who feel like their authority is being challenged or undermined. But if an employee feels like they can’t speak up without fear of reprisal from their manager, it hinders effective coaching.

How To Make The Most Of Your Management’s Coaching

Use the coaching offered to you to the maximum and make sure everything is seamless, organized, and effective enough to drive change in the workforce. This section contains tips on how you can make the most out of the coaching for employees in your company:


If you want to be a better employee, then you need to know what coaching of employees does and does not include. That means you need to understand the coaching strategy according to your company’s key performance targets.

Employees should try to find ways in which the coaching they get can fit their personal career goals. When they get the why behind the advice and encouragement of the managers, the coaching becomes less about what the coach thinks but reinforces the culture that you want to get in your organization.

When you and your managers are looking at the bigger picture together, it should help them be more receptive to you, too.


This means you should be willing to listen and understand what motivates you, and you should never spend all day doing things out of your scope, such as perhaps responding to emails when your task is elsewhere.


Employees who regularly ask for feedback and reviews can help best improve their performance. Just make sure that you ask for feedback in a timely manner. Employees should know how they’re doing at all times to track progress, but they should not be overwhelmed with too much information at once.


Clarify how you are going to be evaluated on your performance each quarter/month/year (or however often) so that you can aim to improve and watch your performance get better and better with each passing month. This way you can also gather actual data on your performance that can be used to discuss a higher salary or other benefits and improvement opportunities.

Best Coaching Strategies for Teams to Collaborate, Instead of To Compete

You now have prepared a coaching strategy, but how do you actually coach a team with it? Below are some tips and coaching questions to ask employees in order for teams to better collaborate instead of compete:

1. Make sure there are opportunities for advancement within your company structure.

Encourage teams that show potential by giving them more responsibility and flexibility in their work schedules. This is a good way for them to feel like they’re growing professionally. Allow them to balance their personal lives with their professional lives – something that may be difficult if they have kids at home or other responsibilities outside of work hours.

Set up appropriate home office opportunities, for example, and ensure that your team is still functioning well together by organizing outings or other team-building activities.

2. Understand what motivates teams.

Individual employees may be motivated to do a good job, but what about the teams they’re in? Coaching for success in employees should differ from coaching for teams. Teams are usually more motivated to push for the greater good. This usually involves dedication to the company that the employees work for and recognition from their manager as a team. By having the opportunity for teams to learn new skills and advance within the company, you boost team camaraderie, too.

If an employee is motivated by money, you can coach them on making more of it. If they are motivated by social recognition, then you can coach them on how to get more recognition from their peers. If they are motivated by autonomy and independence, then you can coach them on how to take more ownership over tasks and projects.

You can provide coaching topics for employees and opportunities to grow within your company through mentorship programs. Just don’t forget that you can also motivate teams by recognizing them in front of their peers. When you recognize teams for doing a great job, it shows other people on your team that they should be doing what they can to help achieve similar results.

While it’s important to provide feedback on performance, it’s also important not to focus on negatives when providing them. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of the team’s performance (for example: “you exceeded expectations by hitting 90% of your target”). This way will encourage them to keep up their good work and improve even further next time around.

3. Don’t micromanage your teams.

It’s okay to track team progress in your business plan, but it’s just as important to give teams space and freedom to do their jobs as they see fit. That way they’ll feel valued, happy and motivated because of the autonomy they have about their work.

Be clear about what needs to happen next. It’s essential to place metrics to measure the progress of your teams, but also give them room for creativity. They’ll be more likely to stick around if they know they have some input into their work processes.

4. Use a growth mindset.

Coaching for success often involves helping teams improve themselves or develop new skills so that they can perform better at work. To do this effectively, coaches need to have a growth mindset—the belief that everyone in the team has the potential for growth if given the right tools and support.

Employee being coached by supervisor

Best Coaching Tips to Transform Difficult and Underperforming Employees

It’s no secret that Coaching is a proven method for improving employee performance, but it can be challenging to find the right approach. In fact, many managers struggle with coaching and improving the skills of difficult and underperforming employees.

Employees who underperform, for whatever reason, work slower, make mistakes and don’t contribute to your business as much as they are expected to. Fortunately, there are plenty of coaching forms and tips for employees that can help them thrive at your company and grow into the role you’ve designed for them.

Here are some of the best coaching tips for transforming these underperforming employees into top performers.

1. Understand their motivation.

If you want to transform underperforming employees, you first need to understand what motivates them. Are they motivated by money or do they need more recognition for their efforts? Understanding what motivates them will help you focus on the right things when coaching them and improving their performance at work.

2. Give them space for growth and development.

Maybe you have neglected an employee and not provided them with the support they need to thrive. Some of your underperforming employees may be better suited for different roles in your company than others. For example, if someone has been working as an administrative assistant for many years but wants to try something new, promote them to a role that suits their strengths.

This will also motivate them to overperform because it shows that you believe in their potential and value their contributions as much as everyone else’s at work. It also helps to give praise for the progress and achievements of these struggling employees. When they hear you highlight their success, you give them the affirmation and hope that they can surpass their current performance scores.

HR managers, for example, should consider highlighting the strengths of employees and identifying the ways they’ve already grown. This can encourage them to keep refining and showcasing those strengths. If you’re coaching an employee on a new process or topic, you can talk about how they’ve already done well at managing their current responsibilities. Tell them that this coaching is just an opportunity that came from their hard work.

3. Value their insight

Employee engagement has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of company performance. When employees feel like their opinions matter in the workplace, they feel more invested in doing their jobs well and contributing to the organization’s success. In fact, when managers listen to what their employees have to say, workers are five times more likely to take on new tasks and responsibilities.

4. Give constant feedback

Regular feedback is crucial for keeping underperforming employees engaged and motivated over time. And it doesn’t have to be negative. In fact, positive feedback used in coaching forms for employees can be even more powerful than negative criticism during an employee review.

That’s because itemizing what specific things they’re doing right instead of focusing on what needs improvement, reinforces a positive behavior loop. For example: if an employee has just finished a big project at work and you notice them working hard throughout the day while others are goofing off around them, give them credit for their special work.

Make Them Feel Safe

When employees feel safe, they’re more likely to open up about their challenges and talk about what they need from their managers. This is where coaching difficult employees really begins—and it’s where it ends too. You can’t make someone feel safe if you don’t listen to them and validate their concerns. This is also the best time to be clear about your expectations and keep them consistent so the difficult employees know what’s expected of them at all times.

5 Coaching Styles for Managers

Managers who work with employees in any capacity need to be able to understand their employees’ strengths and weaknesses. One way that managers can do this is by using the right type of coaching for each employee. That’s because a coach’s style is the type of management technique that determines how they interact with their employees.

Here are the five major types of coaching for managers that work well in different situations:

  1. Democratic coaching: This is a style of coaching where managers encourage employees to take control of their own learning and development—coaches won’t step in unless they ask for their input. Managers provide guidance and direction but allow employees to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions. They also try to make sure everyone has a voice in making decisions about what needs to get done at work so that everyone feels like they have ownership over their jobs and responsibilities.

    Quality and safety officers must also give their employees the freedom to come up with ideas on their own without worrying about being judged or criticized by them if it doesn’t work out perfectly right away.
  2. Authoritarian coaching: This is a style most suited for coaching entitled employees, where managers give clear instructions and expect them to be followed without having to explain why those results are important. Employees are expected to follow orders without a grain of allowance to ask questions or make suggestions. Instead, they give orders without explanation because they assume everyone knows what needs to be done without knowing why.

    This style is all about telling your employees what they need to do without giving them any choice in the matter—it’s all about following orders from above and getting results as quickly as possible so nothing gets messed up along the way. This might be the best option for your team or employees if you have a deadline and need something done quickly.
  3. Holistic coaching: This is a style of coaching where managers work with employees on an ongoing basis to help them improve their performance. This can be done by focusing on both strengths and weaknesses. A holistic approach also involves assisting employees in developing strategies for solving problems on their own. This helps them avoid relying on someone else always to give them all the answers.

    This style can be useful if you want to hear feedback directly from your manager, rather than through other means like peer reviews.
  4. Autocratic coaching: This is a style of coaching where appraisers or managers provide general guidance and direction but do not get involved in day-to-day operations. The manager doesn’t offer much feedback about individual performance until it becomes necessary. Usually, the feedback comes due to poor performance or other issues developing within the organization overall (such as morale problems).

    This style is helpful when you need your manager to help guide you through a challenging task or situation but also want them to respect your autonomy as an employee. One good example is when your company is undergoing layoffs and it’s time for some staff restructuring.

    When you’re laying off people who have been with the company for years, there’s always going to be some tension around whether those employees should keep their jobs. A good autocratic coach will be able to walk through this difficult process with empathy and understanding. They should be able to encourage employees toward growth opportunities elsewhere.
  5. Vision coaching: This is another kind of leadership style that involves helping employees develop their own vision for their role in the company. This method focuses on goals and objectives rather than getting bogged down in details, so this is perhaps best suited for onboarding employees.

3 Best Practices For Coaching Through Conflicts at Work

Today’s workers are under a lot of pressure. They’re working longer hours, are more stressed out, and dealing with more conflict than ever before.

Experts suggest that when conflicts arise at work,coaching can help resolve them before they escalate into larger problems. These problems can negatively impact team morale and productivity—not to mention your company’s bottom line. By coaching your employees and giving them tools during conflict resolution processes, you can help them communicate better with each other so they can resolve issues more quickly and effectively than if they were left to their own devices.

This means that employees need coaching now more than ever on how to handle such conflicts. But how can you help your employees deal with these issues? How can you help them improve their communication skills and handle conflicts with coworkers in a healthy way?

The Harvard Business Review shows that while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there are still some practical, time-tested strategies. These best practices can help you coach your employees through any number of workplace conflicts:

1. Get down to the roots

The best way to deal with these conflicts is by getting down to the root of the problem and addressing it head-on. In order to resolve a conflict you need to voice it and create a conversation around it. While this may seem simple enough, it can be difficult if your employees don’t know what they’re doing wrong. So make sure that you’re on the same page before you start a difficult conversation.

2. Teach open-mindedness

Employees can become defensive when someone criticizes them or their work. So teaching them how to maintain a strong sense of objectivity will give them more effective conversations with employees. That’s why it’s important to coach employees on how to be respectful and open-minded during such conversations.

3. Coach them on how to listen carefully before responding

It’s easy to jump into problem-solving mode as soon as you hear about an issue. Teaching employees how to pause for a minute before reacting to a conflicting situation is a good start in helping them understand the other party’s perspective better.

This method will help them make sure they’re hearing what they’re really saying instead of getting distracted by solutions that aren’t relevant to their concerns. Teach them how to use active listening skills to show that they’re listening to what the other person has to say, even if they disagree with them or don’t agree with their point of view.

4. Teach them how to be empathetic rather than judgmental or dismissive.

It always pays to let them remember that there is a human being behind every complaint or concern. Some good approaches to make them feel more compassionate include: to not overreact when conflicts arise, to not wait for things to resolve themselves before settling the conflict, and to consider all your options before making decisions.

Teaching employees how to use “I” statements when talking about themselves or someone else on their team (e.g., “I feel…” or “It makes me feel…” instead of “You…” or “They…”) is also a good idea in resolving conflicts more productively.

Build a Strong Team Through Coaching: Scenarios & Examples

Coaching your employees is a great way to set them up for success. But what is the use of coaching leadership when the employees can’t visualize situations where it’s useful? This is why it’s helpful to cite a few helpful scenarios to use in your next coaching conversation.

Let’s take a look at a few example scenarios where coaching an employee can provide dramatic impact:


An employee has been working for three weeks and hasn’t made any progress on the project they were hired for.

Coaching advice: There are two ways this scenario can play out: You can either change the employee’s behavior, or you can change their attitude. The first option involves training—you give them a new skill set or strategy and hope that they absorb it on their own. The second option involves changing their mindset—you might have them take on a different role in order to increase their motivation or interest level in their work. Perhaps, even hire someone else to help them better understand what it takes to do their job well.

In this case, it’s best to talk with the employee about their progress and ask them how they feel about the work they’ve done so far. Try to find out why they’re struggling, and what could be done to make things easier for them. Next, brainstorm with them about other ways they could approach the project and implement those changes.


An employee does not understand what the company’s core values are or how they apply to their job.

Coaching Advice: You can use the opportunity to coach them on how the core values affect their position. You can itemize and elaborate on the principles they need to understand in order to improve their performance based on those values.


A quality manager has trouble working with other team members because they are clashing over projects or responsibilities and has come to you for help resolving it.

Coaching Advice:You can use the opportunity to coach the employee to identify what they think the problem is. This will help you determine if the problem is something simple, like a lack of communication between team members, or something more complex, like a clash of personalities that can’t be resolved by simply talking things out. The next step would be to coach the employee on the right words to use to avoid emotional behavior.


Your company has recently received some bad press because of an incident involving one of your employees. You need someone to represent your company at a press conference next week. Nobody wants to step up because they’re afraid of being asked difficult questions by reporters and bloggers who got wind of what happened. This could lead to increased scrutiny from higher-ups in your company.

Coaching advice: Meet with each person who was involved in the incident and ask them what happened and how they feel about it now. In this case, you can coach them on how to communicate effectively with others while keeping emotions under control. They can do this by using, for example, active listening techniques, like asking open questions so they don’t feel attacked or judged by the reporters.


Your marketing team has come up with a new slogan for the company, but it’s not getting any traction on social media. How can you help them?

Coaching advice: During feedback, ask the team what they think would help their campaign succeed. They may have some ideas that would be easy to implement and could change things quickly. If they don’t have any ideas, ask why not. This will help them think about what they want to achieve with their campaign and why it’s important that they do so.

If they still don’t have any ideas, ask them what they think is preventing them from coming up with new ones. Coaching employees in this area may involve understanding their learning process and helping them come up with better strategies using such thinking methods.

Two female employees discussing in an office
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