5 Tips on How to Effectively Coach Employees


Coaching employees is an essential part of maintaining a productive and ever-improving workforce. Coaching shouldn’t be seen as a means of simply motivating your employees, but rather as a way of maximizing their overall performance, doing everything you can as a leader to help them do their job better. While coaching can be a difficult task for even the most effective leaders, the results speak for themselves more often than not, allowing management to unlock the true potential of its employees and drive them to becoming more effective workers and leaders in their own right.

Many leaders consider themselves to be effective managers, but too few actually know how to coach their employees. Rather than directly managing employees or merely giving them a reason to be more motivated in the workplace, the role of a coach is to empower your team to be able to use their own training, skills, and resourcefulness to improve their performance. Instead of leading through direct teaching, you should focus on helping them learn and improve so they ultimately understand how to help themselves.

As with anything, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to coaching. What works with one employee won’t be enough with another, and some strategies might prove to be ineffective with one but great for another. To master the role of the coach, you’ll need to put a renewed focus on clear communication in the workplace, become more open to learning from your employees, understand different perspectives, be able to define next steps for each person, and let your team members find their own way.

Build trust through communication and regular feedback

You can’t possibly be a good coach without building a solid line of communication with the employees you’ve taken under your wing. Communication builds trust and respect, making the entire coaching exercise - and everything else about managing employees - more effective. Active listening is extremely important in building this trust and respect, as it shows team members that you’re genuinely invested in what they have to say, and allows you to better understand their perspective and viewpoint. Be transparent, empathetic, and most important, honest, but remember to be understanding in your approach - being overly harsh or critical will only serve to make employees feel defeated and undervalued.

As a coach, it’s not your job to simply criticize your team. Providing feedback to each member on a regular basis lets you address the many positive things your team brings to the table, as well as identify areas of improvement. Rather than putting down employees and ruining morale, it’s important to lift them up through open feedback they can use to improve their performance, address areas they want to strengthen, and feel better about the areas in which they excel.

Be consistent in setting goals and expectations

Without knowing what you’re working towards or what’s expected of you, it can be very difficult to improve as an employee. This is also true of situations where goals and expectations are not consistent. When setting goals for your team, put them in writing so they’re clearly defined and employees know at all times what they’re working towards. They can be assured that expectations won’t change on a whim, and it’ll be much easier for them (and for you) to keep track of progress. Once they’ve achieved the goals you’ve established, only then should you redefine or change them.

It’s a good idea to get your team members involved in setting these goals and expectations - ask them what they want to improve on, what they think they could build on, what skills they’d like to learn and what they want to achieve, and use that feedback to inform your overall goals. Tell employees how you’ll measure their success along the way, and be sure to make it known that they’re not alone.

Create an attainable plan of action for each employee

In order to improve, each member of your team needs to be provided with a realistic roadmap for where they should be going and how they can get there. It’s your job to work with each employee to determine where that is, what skills they’ll need to improve or gain to get there, and how they’re going to put it all together. Each plan of action should be unique to the employee - not everybody wants the same thing, nor will each member of your team be able to successfully follow the same roadmap.

If your employee wants to eventually become a manager, work with them on getting there - give them clear deliverables and establish the goalposts. With well-established goals, employees won’t have to feel like Charlie Brown trying (and constantly failing) to kick the football. Work with your employees and get a sense for the what, why, when, and how, and establish criteria for evaluation. This way, employees can work towards their goals, learn from your continuous feedback, and evaluate their own performance along the way. Once an employee reaches the end of their roadmap, speak with them about logical next steps to promote continuous improvement.

Let employees figure things out on their own

As tempting as it may seem, remember not to step in and solve problems for your employees, even if they’re clearly headed down the wrong path. Letting them figure out how to work through issues on their own is the key to growth and improvement. Telling team members how to solve a problem doesn’t teach them anything they can use on a long-term basis, and is far less satisfying than having the opportunity to work through it. 

Instead, give employees the resources needed to solve problems and tackle issues. Promote collaborative efforts and offer your guidance when needed through leading questions. When they finally arrive at the solution, they’ll have learned valuable skills and problem-solving techniques, and built the confidence needed to tackle future issues as they arise.

Never stop learning and improving

Finally, one of the keys to becoming an effective coach doesn’t involve directly coaching employees at all. Instead, it focuses on your own continuous learning and improvement. An effective coach is one who:  

  • Constantly looks to improve their own skills 
  • Works to pick up new ones
  • Craves continuous growth 
  • Leads by example

Making a commitment to your own learning sets you up to be a well-rounded coach for all your employees, giving you brand new skills and competencies you’ll be able to put into practice in a wide range of situations. After all, if you’re not committed to improvement, why should your team members be?

Coaching, while difficult at the best of times, can ultimately result in a stronger, more confident, and more productive workforce. In order to effectively coach your team members, you need to be able to create and build trust through constant communication and regular feedback, be consistent in setting goals and expectations, create realistic roadmaps that help employees achieve their goals, know when to let your team resolve issues independently, and never lose sight of your own learning and improvement. With enough patience, you’ll soon find yourself leading your team to continuous improvement that can lead to levels of success never thought possible.

Tracking the progress of your team members can be tricky, especially when it comes to continuous employee improvement - that’s where productivity intelligence comes into play. With productivity intelligence provided by Prodoscore, you’ll gain instant visibility into how your employees are working across applications your business is already using and use it to better inform your coaching.

Prodoscore lets you measure improvement of employees with one simple productivity score and an intuitive dashboard, allowing you to gauge progress. With Prodoscore, you’ll be able to enhance your coaching by identifying behavior patterns and new coaching opportunities and use that data to continuously improve employee performance. For more information about how Prodoscore can help you effectively coach employees, contact us today.