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How Leaders Can Use Coaching to Improve Performance

How Leaders Can Use Coaching to Improve Performance

Coaching is a great tool for personal growth, but it has benefits in the workplace as well. Find out how leaders can use coaching to improve performance within their teams.


In the modern workplace, the image of a leader has evolved. Today, a boss is a team member with ideas and resources rather than someone who merely gives orders. Leaders are discovering that when they invest in the well-being of their employees, they get better results at work.  

Coaching in your workplace is a great way to help people take ownership of their performance. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of coaching and how leaders can use it as a tool to improve performance within their teams. 

The benefits of coaching

Coaching is a valuable tool to achieve goals. Whether one is a student or a working professional, and whether the goal is to better physical and mental health or boost performance, having a coach helps. Beginners and those transitioning to a new role can benefit from a coach who can help guide them in how to succeed.

In general, coaches help clients overcome their weaknesses and give them effective tools for problem-solving. Here’s what coaching does:

  • It provides specialized attention and feedback: Coaches understand their clients’ goals. They provide relevant, constructive, and timely feedback through discussions and observation. Because coaches are attuned to their clients’ competencies, strengths, and weaknesses, they can tailor their advice to individual needs and goals. This approach is holistic and specific to an individual, unlike the occasional performance review at a workplace.
  • It gives guidance: Coaches believe that their clients have the potential to meet their goals. Instead of imparting knowledge, coaches primarily guide, motivate, and provide support.
    Effective coaching relies on two-way communication. We think of the coaching process as being “on our client’s team” because the goal is to tackle problems collaboratively rather than give instructions.
  • It’s goal-focused: A core part of coaching at work involves learning how to set goals and work towards them continuously.
    Coaches help identify goals along with the time and resources needed to meet those objectives. Once clients have a clear idea of the goal, a coach helps to break down the journey into actionable steps and milestones. When difficulties arise, a coach will motivate and provide alternatives.

How coaching can improve performance at work

Coaching is a great tool for managers to motivate employees and keep them at peak performance. For leaders looking to incorporate coaching into their management strategy, here are a few useful tips:

1. Listen to your employees

As managers, we only have a top-down view of our employees’ responsibilities and problems. To get down to the nitty-gritty and learn about the details and context of the situation, we’ll have to talk to those who are directly engaged with tasks at the micro level. To be the best possible advocate for our employees, don’t assume their needs — give them the support and resources they ask for.

2. Ask the right questions

When we’re coaching employees, we can help them reflect on themselves by asking relevant questions and providing feedback. This exercise helps build self-awareness and encourages team members to understand their strengths and weaknesses. With this information, employees better understand their roles within a team and how their responsibilities correlate with those roles.

The goal here is to tackle performance problems by encouraging employees to problem-solve by themselves. This coaching technique is different from the traditional management style because an employee isn’t just given orders and expected to obey. Managers help them build new skills and allow them to take charge of their own performance.


3. Help them find solutions

Have honest conversations with your employees about problem areas and help them find solutions. Ensure you’re being straightforward and constructive with your criticism but remember to highlight what they’ve done well. Acknowledge their strengths and skill sets and provide guidance on how to take their performance to the next level.

4. Build an action plan

Once everyone is on the same page about improvement opportunities, it’s time to translate feedback into actionable steps. The first is to find a specific, achievable goal with the employee’s current resources. This goal should also be measurable and serve the company and the employee’s professional development.

To finish the goal-setting process, discuss with the employee and set a reasonable deadline. If the performance issue you’re tackling is significant, structure the improvement plan into smaller sections with itemized deadlines to make the process manageable.

5. Follow up and give feedback

Don’t think of coaching as individual sessions. Think of it as an ongoing relationship between coach and employee, and plan regular check-ins to monitor employee progress. As employees improve based on your feedback, they may face newer challenges and take on more responsibilities. As a coach, ensure that your coaching sessions and topics reflect these new needs. 

Performance management is a journey; the more invested we are in it, the better the outcome. Ensure that check-ins aren’t just about measuring metrics and performance improvement — demonstrate that the employee’s mental health and well-being are also important to you.

6. Encourage them

When we implement coaching programs in the workplace, we invest in our employees and try to improve the work environment. Coaching is about creating and maintaining healthy and strong relationships with our team members and meeting performance expectations.

As a leader and coach, be practical and empathetic. Rather than criticizing people when they’re not performing at their best, demonstrate that you believe in them and expect great things.

Coaching as a leader

Coaching to improve employee performance at work is an effective management strategy. Coaching is less hierarchical than traditional leadership styles and keeps people’s needs and potential at its center. It works because their performance improves when we put individuals in charge of their growth and professional development.

If you’re looking to incorporate coaching into your workplace to improve performance, Practice can help streamline your client relationships.

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