What Is Employee Coaching? (With Benefits and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 9, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Employee coaching is one of the first steps required for improving organizational performance. Companies can implement these programs to help employees develop specific skills to perform their tasks more proficiently. Before starting a coaching program, you need an understanding of what employee coaching entails. In this article, we explain the meaning of employee coaching, describe the benefits of it, discuss the steps for creating effective programs, provide some tips managers can use when coaching employees, and review coaching when performance issues exist.

What is employee coaching?

You may wonder, "What is employee coaching?" This is a form of coaching that supports or guides employees in achieving their goals and objectives while preserving their morale. Employee coaching programs can help employees improve their skills and become more proficient in their jobs. It's a team effort between a manager and an employee and it typically concentrates on:

  • Recognizing and identifying employee needs

  • Setting attainable objectives

  • Planning strategic steps to achieve success

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Benefits of employee coaching

When you implement an employee coaching program, you can expect to see the following benefits:

Developing your high potential employees

Implementing an employee coaching program allows you to develop a company's high-potential employees. These are the employees you view as the organization's potential leaders. Coaches may assess employees' potential and determine what skills they can develop to be more productive and effective in their roles.

Creating a stronger leadership team

Companies can coach employees at all levels. This typically involves the leadership team working to improve employee engagement and retention. By working together with employees to develop their individual skills, leaders can also improve the necessary skills required to manage their teams effectively, such as effective communication and problem-solving.

Improving communication abilities

Communication skills are critical to a company's productivity and profitability. Employee coaching is an excellent way to improve communication skills throughout an organization. A coaching relationship can teach you the skills you require to be a great communicator, such as listening, clarity, and confidence.

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How to establish an effective employee coaching program

Here are some steps to help you create an effective employee coaching program:

1. Establish a goal

Coaching begins with setting realistic expectations and goals for a company's employees. To help achieve your goals, it's often important to consider whether you're coaching employees through a new process or are only assisting them in improving themselves. Identifying this early can help determine which methods and techniques you may use to be most effective. Whatever the reason, you can focus on developing both employees and the organization simultaneously. Consider the future and how coaching can benefit you and your team members .

2. Recognize weaknesses

Identifying weaknesses can give you and your team members the opportunity to redefine yourselves. Developing an effective employee coaching program may involve highlighting areas an employee can work on, which can help them achieve more in their careers. Coaching can assess their ability to deal with challenging situations and may provide them with a scenario for adapting, countering, and learning how to manage or eliminate their weaknesses. As a result, their working abilities and knowledge base can improve.

3. Customize training and roles

You can provide employees with the role that best suits them to become effective at their jobs and perform well. While it can be difficult to categorize employees based on their competencies, you are more likely to determine the role that suits them best with an effective coaching and training program. You can also decide to customize training programs to fit the developmental needs of individual employees. Training employees to learn new skills can help them adapt to changes more quickly and can help improve their performance and productivity.

4. Provide feedback

Feedback is a vital component of any organization that requires both the employee and employer to take part actively. As a coach, you can provide constructive feedback while avoiding demoralization. Another important consideration when providing feedback is to be open and honest about employee progress. You can explain what went wrong, show them the errors, and help guide them through the solution so they can understand how they can improve in the future. Giving positive feedback and encouraging employees may increase their morale and motivation to perform better.

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Coaching tips for managers and leaders

Here's a list of some coaching tips for managers and leaders to consider:

Ask guiding questions

Open-ended, guiding questions elicit more detailed and thoughtful responses, and typically result in more productive coaching conversations. It's critical that you develop strong relationships with open communication with your team. This may help you determine whether they're curious, have the ability to perform and improve, and have a positive attitude toward their work. Managers can help guide conversations by asking questions and listening rather than giving orders, which requires them to possess strong communication skills and emotional intelligence. When employees discover the answers for themselves, they learn and grow.

Recognize what's going well

Effective coaching requires a balance of criticism and praise. You can focus on what's working and what the employee can do to improve. Recognizing what the employees are doing well can help your team members know you notice and appreciate them. Another consideration is how the employee prefers to be recognized. You can ask questions to individual employees to help you understand how each one responds to recognition and how often they like to receive it. By doing this, you may be able to keep the team motivated and encourage them to continue improving.

Listen and empower

Your job as a manager and leader is to develop relationships with employees that result in improved performance. Employees can provide you with a lot of ideas, questions, and feedback. Encourage them to share their thoughts because it's vital for them to know you care enough to listen to what they say. Some employees may have no problem speaking up, whereas others may require a lot of encouragement before openly sharing their thoughts with you. When they express their opinions, make sure to respect their viewpoints by discussing them together.

Understand their point of view

When coaching employees to improve performance and engagement, approaching situations from their point of view rather than your own can significantly aid in achieving the desired changes. Everyone has different motivations, preferences, and personalities, so by asking questions to help you understand how they work and solve problems, you can tailor your coaching conversations to align with the improvements you both want to achieve.

For example, suppose you recently switched from an office layout with many individual offices to a more open layout and one of your sales reps has shown a decrease in successful calls. If you start asking questions and discover that this person is excellent in one-on-one conversations but rarely speaks up in a group setting, you can identify they may feel like everyone is listening to their conversations, making them less confident than when they had their own space. By utilizing this perspective, you can collaborate with them more effectively on how to increase their numbers.

Discuss next steps

Coaching conversations can help produce changes, so try to define and outline what you want to happen next. This helps ensure that you and the employees have the same understanding of expectations and clearly understand the next steps to change and improve. You can mutually discuss and agree what expectations are reasonable.

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Coaching when performance issues exist

The goal of coaching is to work with employees to solve performance issues, which can improve the organization's productivity. Employees who respond well to coaching and improve their performance can become valuable contributors to a company's success. Employees who improve at a slower rate may remain placed on a formal performance improvement plan, also known as a PIP. This establishes a formal process in which the manager regularly meets with the underperforming employee to provide coaching and feedback.

At meetings, managers also analyze how well the employee is performing to reach the performance goals included in the PIP. By the time an employee receives a PIP, the company may heavily involve human resources personnel in meetings and reviewing the employee's progress and performance. Human resources personnel may also help ensure that the manager's documentation of the employee's performance and meetings are accurate.

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