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The 6 Cs of effective coaching

At a glance

  • How to coach your staff to achieve better results
  • Staff coaching is an important skill in improving an employee’s job performance
  • Six effective tips that can develop your coaching abilities

Coaching is all about making the most of your most valuable resource – your people.

Its aim is to improve staff performance. This could be to meet sales targets, be more confident in approaching new clients or doing their admin more effectively. Whatever the objective, your coaching should lead to a change in your employee’s behaviour from where they are now, to where you want them to be.

However, coaching is not counselling or commanding – both of which can leave staff patronised and demotivated. Done well, coaching will ensure your people feel valued, listened to and supported to achieve goals and objectives that will motivate them and improve their job performance.

Vicki Bullock, Founder of Blue Tomato Coaching, offers her six steps to improving staff coaching.

Communicate – two ways please

It can be easy to jump in and start the conversation just to break the silence, but coaching is really about listening. The 80:20 rule is a good approach – with you listening for 80% of the time and talking and asking open questions for 20% of the time. Open up the floor to your team member. Ask them how they see the situation, and listen wholeheartedly. And allow them to talk freely without interruption.

It’s important to remember that the way someone else is feeling is real to them, even if it’s not something you can relate to. Leave silences and encourage them to keep talking. That way you can get a handle on their side of the issue and work together to find a solution.

Clarify the situation and your expectations

Summarise what you believe you have heard, checking in with your employee to ensure you have understood correctly. Now offer your perspective on the situation and what you would like to see from them. Be honest and open, and objective. Work together on finding a mutual agreement about what needs to be improved or achieved.

Commit to change

Set a clear objective or goal. Ensure that both of you have a full understanding of what needs to be achieved. To have a greater guarantee that the goal will be met – be specific, make it timely and have a measure that will help you both rank its success.

Positive feedback doesn’t just help reinforce good performance behaviours, it’s a great way to boost employee satisfaction too

Vicki Bullock, Founder of Blue Tomato Coaching


Now is the time to brainstorm and start exploring potential solutions together. Get them all out on a piece of paper, however daft they may sound. If your staff member is afraid of presenting – maybe joining an amateur dramatics group may take away some of the fear and make it fun. Then start to prioritise the list. Allow them to take the lead, and back them up wherever you can.

Create a checklist

Don’t lose sight of your objectives. Develop an action plan to achieve the objectives you have set for your employee and make sure that you have their commitment to following through on the actions. It can help to break down the target into separate tasks and put in specific check-in points and dates to review progress that’s been made. Don’t be afraid to amend the action plan if it is not working. Again, always do this with your team member.

Celebrate successes

If goals are achieved and targets met, then recognition is one of the best staff motivators there is. Positive feedback doesn’t just help reinforce good performance behaviours, it’s a great way to boost employee satisfaction too. Rewards don’t always have to be tangible; public praise or a period of flexi-time for an employee with children can work just as well. Don’t forget, though, coaching is ongoing and a re-motivated staff member will be ready for a new challenge.

Image © Getty

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