Cheat Sheet: Coaching in the Workplace


It seems our workplace coach never quite measures up to the image of John Calipari, Phil Jackson, Pat Summitt, or Mike Tomlin addressing their players. As disappointing as it may seem, those coaches are actually behind the scenes engaged in the same processes we all experience in the workplace.

Over the years this topic rollout has stuck with me. It’s an easy talk track for your supervisors when discussing challenges related to employee trainings, annual reviews or laying the groundwork for workflow changes.

“If I am your coach, you probably work for me and my concern is your performance. Our conversations and following results will depend on improving your ability to adapt to change and successfully enroll your support in the direction of our team. As the coach, I’ll create the schedule for discussions and be responsible for following up and holding coached individuals accountable to our targets.”

It isn’t correct or uncommon to hear the words ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ used interchangeably. When applied correctly the success of these developmental approaches are each dependent upon several factors. Those factors range from business cultures to skills of the individual mentor or coach and the emphasis being placed on either learning or development. The interpersonal skills of the leaders will also largely determine the effectiveness of influence for both coaches and mentors. Preach open question based exchanges!

When is coaching applicable?

  • When a business seeks to develop employees in specific competencies using performance management tools
  • When talented employees are not meeting goals
  • When a department or business is transitioning to a new software system or operational process changes

What is Coaching

Coaching is training or development in which a person called a “coach” supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal. The learner is sometimes called a “coachee”.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A coaching relationship is a short-term process with a set goal to reinforce behaviors or change skills. In short, it’s a series of target oriented meetings. Critical to the project is developing a positive relationship where the coachee respects, trusts and identifies with the coach. From that point the process generally follows the format of personalized meetings focused on job performance involving only two people – coach and coachee. During these meetings the coach may advise the coachee on how to handle and perform a given task, provide constructive feedback, delegate future similiar tasks, set goals or higher-level tasks for the individual to successfully complete.

Those coaching meetings will include tractable objective/goals, evaluations and task reviews from prior meetings. For example, coaching sessions may involve specific issues such as improving management efficiencies, speaking more articulately and/or learning to think strategically. Through it all a coach’s focus will remain performance driven. The ending results should show improvements to an individual’s job performance by enhancing current skills or developing new skills.

How Long?

A successful coaching relationship may end after only a handful of sessions when the targeted goals have been completed. Once the coached individual successfully acquires the skills, the coach is no longer needed.

Take a few moments to mentally review how a potential coaching conversation with your manager would take place. Think of how it would change your relationships and perspective regarding your roles, responsibilities and expectations. Everyone has the ability to create 30 minutes of free time during a workweek. Will you?

3 thoughts on “Cheat Sheet: Coaching in the Workplace

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