8 Tips for Coaching Employees to Improve Performance

Even the most skilled employees sometimes need guidance and direction. This is where coaching comes in. There are many advantages to coaching employees to improve performance but in this article, we’ll only briefly touch on those. The focus of this article is more on how to coach employees to improve their performance. I’ll talk a bit about how to coach employees and what the focus of employee coaching is. Then, we’ll take a deep dive into tips and advice you can use to help you improve your employee coaching skills.

So, let’s cover the basics and then move on to the juicy part.

What is Employee Coaching?

In a nutshell, coaching an employee means that you’re helping employees reach their full potential. You work with them on improving their skills, understanding the objectives and overcoming obstacles and challenges at work.

How do You Coach Employees?

As with any other coaching practice, it can take many different forms. Most frequently, employee coaching involves scheduling individual sessions with employees (in case of an in-house coach, these should not be mistaken for your regular one-on-ones). 

Coaching sessions should be a safe space for employees. They need to be comfortable sharing the good and the bad in order to improve their performance, productivity and solve problems. 

Even though employee coaching must be aligned with the company goals and objectives, keep in mind that your client is always the employee. So your first and foremost concern should be the employee and the challenges s/he is facing no matter how that relates to the current workplace.

What Is the Focus of Employee Coaching?

The focus of employee coaching is to celebrate wins and identify obstacles that prevent employees from performing at their best. This is achieved through working on developing and enhancing employee skills in order to improve performance and productivity. In return, investing in employee growth through coaching improves the overall employee contribution.

How Can Coaching Enhance Employee Skills?

Although beneficial, a coach doesn’t have to know how to do the work of an employee to be able to help him or her improve their performance and develop skills. Through regular meetings and continuous feedback, the coach can help employees work on their problematic areas. The more employees are aware of their weaknesses, the more they’ll be able to work on improving them. Additionally, a coach can help an employee find a mentor with a needed expertise for the skill the employee is looking to improve. Finally, the coach can encourage employees to talk to their manager openly about their professional development needs and ask for help to find the solution.

Long story short, it takes consistency and collaboration. Through partnering with employees and managers, coaches help organizations grow by working together to enhance employee skills and improve performance.

8 Tips for Employee Performance Coaching in the Workplace

Remember to Coach

It is often hard to step back and let the other person do the talking. This is especially hard if you’re an internal coach who’s also the team manager. Switching between the two roles can be challenging, but not impossible. 

For the purpose of this article, it is important to remember that as a coach, you coach – you don’t manage. What does that mean?

Coaching process is a collaboration, or partnership, between the coach and the coachee. When you’re coaching your employees, let them take the lead when it comes to the content. Ask them questions, listen, ask for clarification, guide the process but don’t give solutions because then you won’t be in the role of a coach anymore. 

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share your thoughts and knowledge. Step back but don’t hold back. Provide feedback, share experiences, create a safe space for growth, but follow the lead of your employee and address their concerns. Remember, the focus is on the employee and them figuring things out, not you telling them what to do.

Praise Achievements and Growth

Offering constructive feedback is essential to growth. Talking about mistakes and how to fix them helps employees understand where they need to improve. However, praising employees may be even more important at some points when it comes to improving employee performance.

Giving positive feedback reinforces the expectations you have for them and assures them that you have confidence in their abilities to maintain or exceed those expectations.


Praising your employees reminds them of the trust you’ve placed in them. It motivates your employees to feel good about themselves, which in turn motivates them to keep doing a good job. Also, it can be a good reference point when they make a mistake – it will prevent negative thinking and self-pity.

Help Identify Roadblocks

Often, when we feel stuck, we can’t see the clear picture and the direction we’re supposed to take. As a coach, it is your job to help employees identify the obstacles and create action plans to overcome them. 

Sometimes, just letting employees tell you about the problem can be beneficial and they’ll come up with the cause of the problem on their own. Other times, you’ll have to ask questions to understand the situation better in order to be able to help.

It is frequently the case that the roadblocks are hidden in employees’ perceptions or assumptions they make so make sure to ask about anything and everything. This may take some time, but the point of the process is to help employees move forward with their tasks, not to patch up an issue and move on.

Be Present

This one may be a bit more challenging, but it is so important for the coaching process. Being present means listening carefully to what employees are saying, not assuming anything. You can address their words, expressions, ask for clarification or just be quiet and give employees time to think and space to process.

You have to be there mentally, with them in that room and your thoughts should be directed to whatever the other person is saying. There will be times when you won’t know what to do next and that’s totally fine. Being open and honest with your coachee will take you a long way. 

Remember, transparency is the key in business, even when it comes to coaching. You don’t have to be a know-it-all. You just need to be there.

Build Confidence

Building confidence helps employees perform better. When they’re sure about their actions and decisions, they’ll spend less time questioning themselves and more time completing the task and moving onto the next one.

Coaching in the workplace should be highly oriented toward support and guidance. Employees who receive adequate support stand out in the process of achieving goals.

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Remind employees of their strengths and congratulate them every step of the way. When people know that they’re appreciated and valued, they’re more likely to invest themselves and give their very best.

Encourage Employees to Learn from Others

Over time and through experience, we tend to develop our own way of thinking and approach to tasks. Even if two people had the same education, they are different individuals so they’ll do the work differently.

Encourage your employees to interact with one another. This may go without saying when it comes to employees doing the same or a similar job, but interacting with employees who do something completely different can be beneficial, too. Communicating with their peers at work creates a collaborative environment and company culture. It also enables employees to seek help from their fellow coworkers. 

Learning on your own is great, but collaborating with others can be more efficient and effective at times; not to mention fun as well.

Build Self-Awareness and Reflection

By providing continuous feedback, you teach your employees how to approach a problem and see their own mistakes and wins. They become more self-aware and start understanding their patterns better. 

Self-reflection is important, not only when a mistake has been made, but also when a task has been completed or a problem solved. Understanding what works and what needs to be improved on a personal and team level can greatly help employees improve their performance and create better results.

Hold Employees Accountable

The coaching process starts with setting goals. Once employees commit to the goals they have set for themselves, it is your job to hold them accountable. As I’ve mentioned in my article on benefits of accountability coaching for startup founders and business owners, people are 95% more likely to reach their goals if they’re meeting regularly with the person they’ve committed to about a given goal. The more goals employees meet, the easier it’ll be for the business to scale and grow.

Peachy! Right?

Yes and no. Despite its many benefits and advantages, there are some disadvantages to coaching employees in the workplace. More often than not, coaching takes time and the results are not seen immediately.

Companies that are strict or are highly driven through results will not find coaching employees an ideal to see improvements in the short-term.

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Nonetheless, the benefits and perks of coaching outweigh these disadvantages by far. More and more companies are now on the lookout for a leadership style that is geared more towards coaching. The CEOs and founders tend to be more open to hiring a coach for their employees as they understand the long-term benefits of it. 

Finally, as I’ve already mentioned in my other articles, you don’t have to hire a professional coach to work with your employees. Managers can also learn coaching skills given enough time and resources. However, if you’re looking for maximum results and a more effective approach, I’d highly recommend connecting with a professional coach or a coaching organization.

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