3 simple skills for coaching employees to their potential

Coaching helps your employees become aware of what needs to happen AND buy in.

It encourages personal engagement and empowers the employee to have personal control over their performance.

It’s not about telling them what needs to be done. It’s about helping them find their own answers.

Whatever they end up doing will be more in alignment with who they are.

The #1 hardest thing you ever do as a manager is to get someone to accept ownership and responsibility. Coaching allows that to happen. 

Coaching is a skill inside management that gets people activated. (Other management skills force people to act, but not take responsibility or accountability.)

Good employees stick around if they feel valuable, even if they’re not being paid the highest wages. Because they want to feel like they’re contributing.

Coaching does that because it lets them have a voice & empowers them to solve their own problems.

Usually when there’s no coaching, the good people leave. That is why you want to coach.

The first question you need to ask yourself is: Do they genuinely know how to do the task at hand?

If yes, then it’s time to coach because they know what they’re supposed to be doing & they’re just not doing it.

You know you’re doing it right when it feels like you’re raising someone up, not knocking them down.

Here are some basic coaching skills to put in your toolbox:

1. Curiosity

This is a cornerstone skill that you need to have.

When you embrace curiosity, they don’t feel judged. They feel safe to tell you the real truth.

You’re not asking a question because you already think you know the answer.

I’m not going to sit back about making a judgement about why that is.

Instead of, “your performance is down. What’s your problem?”

You want to ask, “I noticed there’s been a change in your performance. How are you doing?”

It has a different feel to it. Your employee could hear those words and not feel judged.

Keep asking more questions to get more information, before you graduate to a place where you get to a solution.

2. Active listening

It’s the skill of being able to be focused on what the person is saying. You’re not strategising in your head.

Listen from that place of curiosity.

  • You’re listening for what they’re not saying.
  • You’re looking at body language.
  • You’re paying attention to their tone.
  • You’re not thinking about what’s on your schedule next.
  • You get gut instinct.

You get all the clues to what’s really going on.

If you’re going in with judgement, then you’re losing out on information.

You need to stay out of fix-it mode (for now).

It sounds simple, but it’s a lot harder to do in real life.

It takes practice. It’s a muscle you need to continually exercise.

3. Impactful questions

It’s an open-ended question that is designed to bring out the answer from within the person, so you get a really truthful, honest answer.

These questions get them to dig deeper & go beyond the surface level. 

It needs to be broad enough that you’re not pointing them in a certain direction.

Here are some examples:

  • “What are you willing to commit to?”
  • “How does this affect you?”
  • “What’s not working here?”
  • “What’s missing for you?”
  • “What’s important now?”
  • “What do you need next?”
  • “What’s worth doing?”
  • “What do you need for support?”
  • “If anything was possible, what would you do now?”

They’re kind of visionary questions. It moves the employee’s focus from problems to possibilities.

That’s one of the biggest wins that comes from coaching — your employees become part of the solution, instead of your biggest problem.


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