Coaching is moving beyond the football field to enter the workplace, with surprisingly winning results. Employees who work at Wal-Mart, for example, are coached instead of written up when they do something wrong. The company believes that coaching is a way to not only point out behavior that’s not conducive to productivity at the company but to turn these kinds of incidents into teachable moments.

Being coached at work doesn’t have to be a terrible experience, and most companies don’t even associate coaching an employee with negative or disciplinary actions. Rather, coaching is a method of not just teaching someone a new skill, but also teaching them how to be an effective leader. Every company should have some form of coaching in place because it’s a great way to set benchmarks and create goals to build leaders.

Coaching and mentoring are not the same

Be sure to not confuse coaching with mentoring. Mentoring focuses on relationships between less-experienced and more-experienced professionals, whereas coaching focuses more on tasks and hitting benchmarks in direct hopes of being promoted, etc. Mentors serve as long-term partners to help guide less-experienced workers through every step of their careers. Coaches, on the other hand, help workers reach more short-term, job-specific goals.

Good workplace coaches share the following successful traits and strategies.

Have a game plan

In order to be successful at coaching multiple employees, you need to have a solid game plan. You’ll want to spread your attention evenly throughout all of the people on your team, in order to maximize the potential of your office and the company as a whole. Managers who have a game plan to start coaching their employees should lean on their own experiences in the process of helping each employee through the kinds of similar situations that are sure to come up.

Be available

It’s extremely important for a coach to be available whenever one of their employees needs them. A lot of issues arise when coaches are too busy with their day-to-day work. Coaching is a commitment, and if you’re not able to put in the time and effort, it will be much harder to deliver better employees, better managers, and a better company.

If you can, set aside time each week to talk to each of the employees you’re coaching. It’s much better to have ongoing contact with them than to go for weeks upon weeks without having any type of follow-up.

Work hard

Coaching isn’t for your average manager. It takes hard work to coach and train employees into becoming managers and beyond. You need to develop a vision of where each employee can go. If managers are willing to put in the hard work to coach, develop, and train their associates, the effort will pay off.

Coaching employees is not for the faint at heart. Not every manager is meant to be a coach and not every employee who is coached is meant to be a manager. Finding the perfect balance can be challenging, but understanding the key success strategies and traits of a good coach will help jumpstart your coaching initiative.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.


  • Avatar Wilton says:

    I really liked your article and especially your idea that every company should benefit from coaching in the workplace. But in order to do so, it has to be done by the right person. In this case, the most efficient person in the company must know how to coach their colleagues to reach an equal level of performance. That person should deal exclusively with coaching and never participate in other activities of the firm.

  • Avatar Darrel Tyre says:

    I believe that coaching the employees is a very important activity for the proper performance of a company and especially its employees. However, coaching in the workplace can prove to be a very complex and sometimes difficult mission because when you are trying to elicit a high level of performance from people, you need to know how to relate differently to each employee.

  • Avatar Jessica Green says:

    You pointed out very nicely the difference between a mentor and a coach when it comes to training a company’s staff. Unfortunately, being a coach is not easy. I think that someone who wishes to succeed in this activity should concentrate exclusively on it without being forced to attend to other daily tasks. And yet, this may create a new issue: if one does not participate in the daily tasks, one might not correctly understand the employees’ problems.

  • Avatar Sandra B. says:

    To be good at coaching the employees of the company, a person must show empathy while maintaining their objectivity. It is not easy to detach yourself from certain problems or the relationship that occurs implicitly between a coach and the employees. The person who does the coaching must be strong and very intelligent in order to provide the right type of teaching.

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