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Employee Coaching Strategies: To Effectively Build Better Teams

Effective coaching is a critical element for success in any modern workplace. Without employee coaching conversations, leaders can struggle to motivate individuals, achieve high-performance levels, or retain top talent. Leaders face numerous challenges, including managing team dynamics, ensuring productivity, and developing individual potential.

It’s no wonder that organizations invest in helping their leaders upskill to become good coaches. A coaching culture is critical to successful leadership and can improve employee engagement. Plus, leaders who coach can increase professional development, enhance productivity, better identify high-potential employees, and ultimately, drive organizational growth.

Whether you’re a seasoned leader or new to coaching, keep reading to find valuable insights and actionable strategies for improving your coaching competencies to achieve better outcomes for your organization.

two women are sitting in chairs across from one another

What Is Employee Coaching?

Employee coaching is a structured process through which leaders empower individuals and teams to achieve their full potential by drawing out their knowledge and ideas. It involves asking questions, providing feedback, and offering support to help employees overcome challenges and achieve their goals. By developing a coaching relationship with team members, leaders serve as thinking partners rather than managers to assist employees in self-directing to reach desired outcomes.

Coaching isn’t supposed to be used for everything. If someone asks where to find a specific file or spreadsheet – tell them! But when employees come to leaders with challenges to solve or goals to set, it is tempting to go into advising, training, or mentoring rather than coaching.

While coaching in the workplace isn’t a new idea, leaders and organizations still struggle to articulate what it is and how to empower their leaders to do it. As a result, some leaders may struggle to transition from the traditional “Boss” role to a more collaborative and empowering “Coach” role. (We even wrote a whole playbook about it here!).

Leaders who adopt a coaching approach can tap into the knowledge and ideas of their employees rather than simply directing them from a position of authority. Effective employee coaching operates from the belief that individuals are competent and resourceful, with leaders serving as facilitators rather than directors. This approach allows leaders to guide and support their employees’ development, leverage their existing skill sets, and enhance their problem-solving capabilities.

Real-World Examples of How Leaders Can Coach Employees

Imagine an employee approaches their leader with the desire to work towards a leadership position. In one scenario, the leader offers advice based on their own experience and suggests a book and a course in leadership. While nothing is inherently wrong with this approach, it may not be the most effective way to develop the employee.

In contrast, in a coaching scenario, the leader focuses on employee development by helping the individual to recognize their strengths and areas for growth, then offers support and guidance to help them create an action plan.

a woman is smiling at another woman as she writes something on a piece of paper

A Coaching In The Workplace Scenario

Scenario: An employee approaches their leader to express their ambition to grow into a leadership role within the organization.

Directive Management:

Leader: This sounds great. This reminds me of when I was first exploring leadership. I read this book that made all the difference and helped me to become the leader I am today. You should also check out a course in leadership to help you develop your communication skills.

Let’s stop this interaction here. Is there anything wrong with it? No. However, it’s more focused on the leader rather than the employee. It’s not horrible to share for the leader to share their favorite leadership book. Still, successful coaching takes the focus off of oneself to help reveal what’s driving the individual and support the employee’s progress.

Effective Workplace Coaching

Leader: This sounds like a good goal for you. What strengths do you want to leverage in a leadership role?

Employee: Well, I know that I like to problem solve like I did last week as we were approaching that deadline; I think I can use that skill, especially in our department.

Leader: That was extremely helpful when you helped us stay on track last week. I can see that as an asset for our department. What areas do you need the most support in when taking on a leadership role?

Employee: Well, I am pretty conflict avoidant. I tend to people please or shy away from having difficult conversations. I know I will need support here.

Leader: I think that’s a great area to focus on developing. How can I support you in developing that skill?

Do you recognize the difference? Employee coaching is about leveraging and developing the existing talent and ability of the person in the moment. A coaching process requires asking questions, providing constructive feedback, and offering support.

During coaching sessions, leaders may make assumptions and treat them as valid without confirming their accuracy. Coaches can better understand their employees’ perspectives, experiences, and challenges by adopting a curious approach. This approach can unlock their full potential by tapping into their unique strengths and capabilities, allowing them to thrive individually and as a part of the broader team.

Talent Development in the Age of AI



Unlocking Employee Potential: Exploring the Key Benefits of Employee Coaching

According to Up Coach, coaching in the workplace can increase employee engagement (67%), improve employee perceptions of leadership quality (60%), strengthen leadership bench strength (54%), improve productivity (50%), and enhance the quality of work (44%).

And yes, at the end of the day, coaching can affect the bottom line. About 63% of organizations that provide employee coaching report higher revenue and income growth than their competitors.

If you must, you can google down a rabbit hole of how to measure the ROI of coaching and how it affects engagement, or you can trust your instinct here. (We also share about defining the goal of coaching moments and how to measure if it is successful HERE.)

effective coaching skills for managers

When companies invest in coaching skill training for their leaders or external coaching to support employee development and well-being, it helps team members experience a healthy work environment and improves retention.

It’s no secret that engagement can result in organizational loyalty. A loyal team member who feels invested in by their employer will often invest back into the organization through effort, quality outputs, and longevity.

Why Access To Coaching Is Essential For Employees

Think of an employee as a vehicle. The more fuel it receives and the more cylinders it runs on, the farther it travels and faster. Coaching is not only the language of leadership; it’s the ultimate employee performance accelerator. It encourages employees to be proactive about setting goals and navigating challenges and keeps them thinking.

Coaching is also something that shows its value subtly and over time. It’s not an overnight benefit; it’s the repetition of receiving coaching that ultimately opens the employee up to new possibilities, new ways of thinking, and new goals to set.

Allowing team members to engage in their own thought processes and explore what makes them effective can make them more intentional in their actions and decision-making.

Effective Strategies For Coaching Employees In The Workplace

In traditional coaching models, providing every employee a one-on-one personal coach is typically impossible. Therefore, empowering leaders to use coaching skills through comprehensive training solutions is fantastic. However, even that might not always be realistic; this is where Cloverleaf makes the difference.

Through Automated Coaching™, using personally curated assessment data, Cloverleaf provides that extra cylinder of support to employees daily. Supporting individuals and teams to leverage strengths and identify gaps, Cloverleaf offers relevant insights into the flow of work that usually remain blindspots within an individual or team.

By increasing the frequency of coaching moments, organizations can empower employees and teams to work to their potential and contribute their best work… who doesn’t want that?

Final Thoughts

Coaching is vital for any modern workplace to motivate employees, improve performance levels, and retain top talent. It’s no wonder more organizations are investing in helping their leaders upskill to become good coaches. Coaching is not just the language of leadership; it’s the ultimate employee performance accelerator. With the right approach and tools, organizations can empower employees to work to their potential and contribute their best work.

Picture of Stephanie Licata M.A. A.C.C.

Stephanie Licata M.A. A.C.C.

Stephanie is a learning and leadership strategist and coach who thrives on helping organizations create workplaces that work for everyone. She has trained thousands of Cloverleaf users at all levels to maximize the platform's potential. In addition, she has trained thousands of leaders across several industries in the art and science of coaching for developing individuals and teams. Stephanie has a Masters in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and is an ICF and NYU certified coach.