How to Run a Coaching Session: 4 Steps

4-steps-coachingCoaching is one of the most important roles of a manager. It not only helps to motivate employees but also provides feedback and structure so that they know how they are performing and how to improve their performance. By engaging in coaching, managers are showing their employees that they believe they can succeed.

Coaching should not be used as a disciplinary measure, as you won’t get the best performance out of people who are reluctant to be coached. Instead it should be used as a way of helping individual workers to develop. Remember that coaching is there to help performance, not to be used as a safety measure.

Coaching works well as part of a people management strategy, just remember not to force reluctant workers into it. As with all people management, the basic skills needed are:

  • Active listening – see our Active Listening Tips for more information
  • Questioning Techniques
  • Feedback Skills
  • Goal Setting

The 4-Stages of Running a Coaching Session

The skills listed above are all  evident in the format of a typical coaching session, which comes in four stages:

1: Establishing Contract

This is not a written contract but rather a spoken agreement between yourself and your employee about the basic rules of how each coaching session will be carried out. This is especially important in the first session, but your agreements can be confirmed at the beginning of each subsequent session and refined if necessary. It is also important to reassure your employee that the coaching sessions are not part of an appraisal, and what is discussed will not be used for one.

During this time you should express the purpose of the coaching process, the roles of employer and employee and how often and for how long the sessions occur

2: Exploring Development Needs

This is the part of the coaching session where your active listening and questioning techniques really come into play. In order to aid the development of your employee, you will need to ask them what they need to learn in order to progress. Together you should agree what can be learned in each coaching session. The employee should not take on too much at a time, however – remember it is up to both of you to ensure that they achieve their goals.

3: Feedback

When coaching, allow time to discuss the employee’s ideas of how they can move forward. If appropriate, give them some constructive feedback on their previous performance, and suggest alternative options to the ways they have previously performed. This may include ideas they had not yet considered. Make sure that you only suggest these ideas; remember that while coaching you should remain an Active Listener.

4: Set Goals

At the end of the coaching session, encourage your employee to commit to a target. It should be clear to both you and the employee what this target is, and should contain realistic deadlines. The employee should remember that they will be discussing their performance again at the next coaching session.

The role of coach is an important one, and one which increases employer-employee communications. By holding regular coaching sessions with members of staff, you should see greater productivity and better performance.


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