Advice for managers on how to successfully coach your employees

Most every company has an annual or bi-annual review process to help employees advance in their careers. But contrary to popular belief, performance management shouldn’t be the only tool you use to retain, grow and engage your employees. The foundation of any performance management system is built upon ongoing coaching and open dialogue with your employees. Developing structured one-on-one coaching sessions is vital to help individuals reach their full potential and meet or exceed expected results.

Before you can effectively coach employees, you must know that your role as a manager is to support your employees, not to micromanage them. Below are some fundamental Do’s and Don’ts to assure a successful coaching session.


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  • create a feedback-rich environment
  • take an ask vs. tell approach
  • offer support in achieving goals
  • focus on best ideas versus position/title

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  • criticize
  • do it for them
  • bring up the past
  • compare

[publishpress_authors_data]'s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do create a feedback-rich environment

It is important to create an open environment for feedback. When meeting with your employees, don’t sit back. Let them share but also ask a lot of questions and have an open discussion on what’s working and what’s not. It’s imperative that you offer employees constructive feedback on an ongoing basis. Don’t wait for annual evaluation to deliver bad or good news. Annual reviews should hold no surprises. Remember, part of your role as a manager is to help employees learn and grow from their mistakes.

Do take an ask vs. tell approach

Employees might instantly shut down if you tell them what to do or how to do it. Having an employee take ownership for future goal setting will encourage accountability. To do this, take an “Ask” approach to discussions. Ask open-ended questions and let employees respond with ideas on how to develop their skills or rectify a performance issue. Employees are more likely to succeed if they develop their own action plan as opposed to being told by their manager what future steps they should take.

Do offer support in achieving goals

Although employees may be developing their own action plans, you should assist them in a variety of ways. For example, managers can support their employees by offering training opportunities like professional development seminars or skill-based trainings. Offering additional resources will not only help your employees accomplish their goals, but will also exhibit to them that you care about their professional development and success within the company.

Do focus on best ideas versus position/title

In Corporate America, most strategic decisions are made only by management and passed up the hierarchy chain. However, in order for employees to feel empowered and motivated, managers need to provide them the opportunities where they’re directly involved and can make an impact. Forget the position or title; managers need to create a culture where the best ideas win and where employees with the primary data are tasked with driving the decisions.

[publishpress_authors_data]'s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not criticize

When coaching employees, it’s important to provide constructive feedback with specific examples. You can provide pluses and minuses/pros and cons, but be sure not to place blame as you’ll stifle learning and development. Try to emphasize building confidence instead, and recognize employees when they do something well with positive praise or small rewards.

Do not do it for them

A good manager is one that is “hands-off” and encourages the employee to develop his or her own style and plan for action. Whether the results are on track or not, you should always focus on providing feedback for improvement so you put the responsibility in the employee’s court. Ask your employees to walk you through his/her plan and let them “lead” the session. Only then will employees grow.

Do not bring up the past

We are all human beings. Bad things are going to happen and mistakes are going to be made. It’s OK. Ask for accountability of failure and move on – don’t belabor the point. It’s your role as a manager to take responsibility for helping foster your employees’ improvement. If you are overly focused on the past, there won’t be room to course-correct in the present or the future.

Do not compare

As with raising children, it’s never a good idea to compare one individual with another. Don’t measure one employee’s experiences, mistakes or progress with those of other employees. Each person is unique and you should take the time to focus on that individual. Get to know their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. Good coaching takes time and attention. As a manager, it is one of your most important investments in your own success as well as your employee’s success.


A well-crafted approach to employee coaching can help set the stage for increased retention, engagement and success for your workforce. Solid coaching is also the foundation for a successful performance management program. With the correct tools, the use of informal and formal employee coaching sessions can help develop your workforce and further the success of your business.

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