Are you a good coach? 5 techniques to get better

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In sport or athletics, we never question the need for a coach. Coaching is essential for development and motivation, staying focused on the field when the stakes are high, and helping the team realise their full potential. But when it comes to the workplace, coaching is often overlooked. 

All employees—from entry-level positions right up to the CEO—can benefit from personal development. And managers at all levels can, and should, act as coaches. We’re all eternal learners, after all. 

The right guidance at work can help unlock an individual’s personal potential, which can ultimately drive better performance outcomes for the company. 

So, are you a good coach, and could you be better?

1. Be humble

We all have our weaknesses. But do we see them? A study of Australian leadership showed that 84% of frontline managers believe they’re good at gaining employee commitment. Yet only 50% of employees think their managers involve them in decision making.

Coaching isn’t just for juniors. Everyone can both benefit from coaching and act as a coach for others. Being a mentee and mentor, means offering skills and experience to others, whilst being willing to receive feedback. Good leaders have the humility to know there’s always room for improvement. 

2. Start with empathy

Empathy is a hot topic these days. That’s for good reason. Beyond employee wellbeing, empathy can impact productivity and motivation. A CCL study showed that empathy is positively related to job performance. And a Businessolver report found that 77% of employees would work longer hours for an empathetic employer. 

Empathy means coming from a place of understanding and compassion. In the workplace, coaching with empathy can take many forms. Showing a genuine interest in employee’s needs, noticing signs of overwork, and nurturing individual ambitions, are just a few. 

3. Show appreciation 

One of our most basic needs as humans is to feel valued. At work, it’s no different. A whopping 93% of employees say their productivity increases when their employer recognises their accomplishments. Yet 41% of employees say their managers don’t show enough appreciation. 

Recognising what’s already going well––rather than focusing on what isn’t––can help employees feel valued and respected. The best coaches focus on the positives alongside areas for growth. Practice appreciation by calling out wins, celebrating milestones, and noticing positive progress. 

4. Listen before you respond 

As coaches, we’re guides, not know-it-alls. Successful coaches don’t tell others what to do. Instead, they listen, understand, and offer potential solutions and strategies. 

Coaching can help unlock potential, but it shouldn’t create cookie-cutter employees. Humans are diverse and should be celebrated as such. Celebrating diversity isn’t just good for individuals, but companies too. 

Improve your listening skills by asking open-ended questions, practising deep listening, and pausing before speaking to ensure you’re offering options not instructions. 

5. Set specific goals 

Goal setting is powerful. A review of 141 research papers found goal setting had a positive effect on behaviour and a Dominican University study found that those who wrote down their goals were 20% more successful than those who didn’t. 

Coaching without goal setting is like driving in the darkn without a map. Setting specific goals––and writing them down––means tracking progress and making tangible improvements over time. Creating specific, achievable, and relevant, SMART goals, will yield better results. A win-win for everyone. 

Coaching at work can empower a workforce and improve company performance. Almost every employee can act as a coach and everyone can benefit from guidance: it’s how we improve. Utilising these techniques can help individuals succeed while bettering the bottom line. 

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