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Deliver Results Through Coaching

By Deanne DeMarco

In the world of sports, athletes hire personal coaches to fine tune their skills and break through the boundaries to improve performance and achieve goals. In the business world, mangers need solid coaching skills to fine tune individual employees and teams in delivering bottom line results. The manager who is able to “coach” is able to make a profound improvement in the performance of employees while keeping them motivated.  

Numerous studies have clearly shown that correctly coaching employees improves the bottom line. Organizations that have paired training with coaching experience outstanding bottom line profitability. Stand alone training improves productivity by only 22.4%, while training coupled with coaching increases productivity by as much as 88%.  

Coaching is the process of open communication and feedback between the manager-coach and employee. This process can be time-consuming but the reward can be great. Your ability to inspire and coach your employees can raise the performance bar significantly, however, coaching works best if the coachee is open and willing to accept the advice being offered. Here are six coaching strategies for managers:

1. Build a Foundation of Trust: If you expect your employees to respond to your feedback, and to be considered credible, you must demonstrate dedication to your employees. One way to build a foundation of trust is to empower employees.

2. Clear Communication: Set clear goals and expectations. Help employees understand their job descriptions and what is expected from them.

  • Be specific rather than general. In both positive and constructive feedback, use specific examples. “You’re not a team player” is not as useful as “In the meeting this morning, when you didn’t acknowledge you were listening to anyone's ideas, I felt forced to accept yours.”

  • Provide both positive and constructive feedback. A common mistake is to only communicate negative actions. People want to be recognized for their positive actions and accomplishments. Feedback should be well-timed.

  • Be descriptive rather than judgmental. Using language that is evaluative increases defensiveness and decreases the ability for the employee to listen.

3. Be a Motivator and Morale Builder: Creating a positive environment is the responsibility of every manger-coach. Motivation comes from within, however employee motivation can increase or decrease based upon the working environment. A good manager-coach can:

  • Give a sense of ownership. By releasing control and delegating responsibilities, managers will show employees that they are valued and trusted.

  • Be a positive and enthusiastic sponsor by creating opportunities for employees to showcase their knowledge and contributions.

  • Provide praise often, which will enhance employees in feeling valued. Share the fame and the blame. You must be willing to share credit for victories with your team, including any tangible rewards.

4. Listen: A good coach listens to what the employee is telling them. An effective coach avoids the tendency to over-talk. The manager-coach is alert to body language and non-verbal messages. Is the employee unusually silent or exhibiting avoidance? Express your concern to non-verbal messages.

Listen for an explanation behind the verbal reaction. Often the verbal response masks the underlying problem. If you have an employee with a performance problem make an effort to find the real cause of the problem. Two good questions to ask are: What is creating the problem? What resources are needed to solve the problem?

The secret to good active listening is the ability to use solid listening skills. These five skills include:

  • Clarification: Clarify the feelings you have just heard, get more details and check assumptions.

  • Encouragement: Keep the speaker talking.

  • Perception Checking: Identify any misunderstandings. Check for accuracy and let the sender of the message know that you understand what was said.

  • Feelings Check: Identify the feelings that you just sensed in the employee’s message.

  • Summarize: Pull together the ideas you heard, review progress made, and sum up what was discussed.

5. Ask Powerful Questions: A good manager-coach needs to be able to ask pertinent questions that will guide the employee. Through the use of open-ended and closed-ended questions a coach can help determine any blocks to success, what resources are needed to break through and how to reach specific goals. One excellent resource on powerful questions can be obtained from This free e-book on coaching skills offers many tips and suggestions for improving performance through coaching.  

All employees need a good coach. As a manager-coach one of your roles is to motivate your employees to work hard, perform at high levels and enjoy their jobs. Once in a while there is an exceptional employee who outshines everyone else, and on the other hand there might be a problem employee who doesn’t pull their share. The key to achieving all-around success is providing every employee with personal guidance and coaching.

Read other articles and learn more about Deanne DeMarco.

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