People Management: How to Coach Employees when it’s your agenda?

People Management: How to Coach Employees when it’s your agenda?
How best to Coach Employees when the Manager is initiating the discussion

Employee coaching can and does take place in many circumstances.
Anytime a conversation takes place to guide behavior or build new knowledge or skills.

Coaching can be on a very informal basis, a short chat at a desk, in an office corridor, at a coffee machine. It can also happen in a more formal session.
An appraisal type discussion or performance review and to set goals for the coming year.
These are natural occasions for coaching to occur.
Coaching is quite different to offering one-way guidance.
That’s what we call Mentoring.

How best to Coach Employees? When you are initiating the discussion.

Our suggestion is to follow these steps every time this kind of coaching discussion takes place:

Step 1: Seek to get into rapport and establish mutual trust

The foundation of coaching is the coach’s ability to establish rapport with the individual. Coaching should be a sincere and positive event with the goal of working together to deliver improvements in performance and growth.

Step 2: Opening the Discussion if Manager Initiated

Clarify, in a non-evaluative, non-accusatory way, the specific reason the discussion is taking place. Describe how a coaching-style discussion will be valuable to both parties.

Step 3: Seek Agreement on the Area of Focus (Reality)

Critical is getting the employee to agree what the main focus of the discussion will be.
Coaching should be specific to a given skill, area of knowledge or a new behavior.
It is not a general chat about many things at the same time.

The skill of specifying the issue or behavior change required consists of four parts.

  1. Give specific examples of the issue or area on which you wish to focus.
  2. Clarify what you are thinking may be possible.
  3. Ask the employee for feedback
  4. Gain agreement on the fact that a new approach could be tried.
Step 4: Explore with the employee a future Goal for the area of focus

Next, explore ways in which the employee may learn new skills or behave in a new or different way.
Avoid jumping in with your own alternatives, unless the individual can’t think of any.
Push for specifics not generalisations.
Listen for commitment words. Question words like try, might, possibly , could, should.

Step 5: Explore Options

Your goal in this step is not to choose a particular path, but to maximise the number of choices for the employee to consider and to discuss their overall benefit.

Step 6: Deal with any possible barriers and offer support

Employees may raise excuses or present barriers to doing things differently at any point during a coaching discussion.
The Manager should help them to reframe and think as laterally as necessary.
The goal here is to ensure that the employee is confident to act.
They should not be reluctant or nervous or feeling stretched beyond their capability

Step 7: Seek Commitment to Act (Will) and a Timeframe in which to do so

The next step is to help the employee choose one particular way forward.
The manager should ideally look for a verbal commitment from the employee regarding what action will be taken and when.

Step 8: Provide a final summary

The role of the manager is now helping an employee that they coach to execute well.
One way to do this is to provide a final summary on what has been agreed.
Confirm this in a email to ensure clarity for both parties on what has been committed to happen and by when. Include in here future review dates


Coaching employees is fast becoming something every leader needs to do regularly.
Coaching is not about issuing commands to people to change their ways.
Nor is it one-way guidance about what should be done differently in the future.
Coaching means having a structured discussion with an employee .
It should allow for two-way discussion and a joint decision about what should be done next.
If this is done well, employees will more rapidly learn and grow.
They will begin to make greater contributions to the organisation

Rainmaker Coaching

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