7 Employee Coaching Tips to Better Motivate, Train, and Guide Them

In this article, we share our top 7 tips for getting coaching right at your organisation to help employees thrive.

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Employee coaching is more than training. It's encouraging your team to grow and progress. It’s building and cementing professional bonds. It’s boosting morale and company loyalty. All good HR books outline the value of coaching in terms of motivating and engaging staff.

Coaching can help identify the strengths and weaknesses of employees and plug gaps in the workforce’s knowledge and skills. The best coaching also fosters a culture of growth and constant development, and it allows employees to know themselves and their colleagues better professionally.

But employee coaching must be done effectively to be worth the time and resources it demands. Here are seven tips for getting coaching right.

1. Know Your Team

Before engaging in any coaching program, the first step is to find out who individual employees are as people. This may sound obvious, but it’s important to remember that a person is not their job description. For example, ten customer service agents may all be proficient with your cloud contact centre solution, but they will also have a wide variety of differences in terms of soft skills and unique qualities.

It's particularly important to make sure you know your team in today’s remote culture, where communication between office and home-based employees can be brief and task-focused, with few opportunities for getting to know a person in a fuller sense.

Before coaching, you could plan informal chats and discussions, or in-person or remote team-building activities. Alternatively, you might decide to carry out formal appraisals and assessments. Either way, the point here is to identify areas for growth for each team member.

2. Set Goals

Once you have a firm grasp on what you think your team needs in terms of coaching, bring your ideas back to them. You need their input to define and set goals. Any kind of training or coaching needs goals that employees can work towards. This is far more likely to happen if the goals are realistic, inspiring, and have been set with their needs in mind.

When gathering employees’ thoughts, make sure you know how to avoid groupthink. Ideally, you want a wide variety of ideas from each team member. It’s also a good idea to allow employees to bring you suggestions or talk through the goals on a one-to-one basis. If team members are working remotely, make sure you have conference call technology in place.

Of course, the purpose of coaching isn’t just to serve the needs of employees. Coaching benefits companies, and, when setting goals, you must, of course, keep your company’s core values and requirements firmly in mind. The goals you will eventually set will combine employee input and what the company needs in terms of staff development.

3. Plan for Success

The next step is to decide exactly how the coaching will take place. This can be a question of process vs procedure. You’ll probably have a standard way the coaching will take place in mind, an outline of what needs to be covered, but how this will be broken down into practical steps is the essence of your planning as the coach.

Largely, it depends on the goals. For example, an employee working on their people management skills will need a very different plan to one studying for the best certification for data engineers.

But this is where you need to remember that the employees you’re coaching aren’t passive passengers with you in the driving seat. The coach’s role is more guide than driver. Involve staff in setting the pace and route as far as possible, allowing them to use their initiative and creativity.

This is important as staff will be running their day-to-day jobs alongside being coached. You don’t want the pace or structure of the coaching process to make them feel overstretched and, therefore, demotivated.

4. Your Role As Coach

Have Back-up

If it’s your first experience of coaching, here’s a piece of career advice: make sure you have support. Draw on any expertise and experience in this area within the company. Is there a member of staff who has coaching experience? Ask them to act as your mentor. Check-in with them throughout the process.

Personality and Group Dynamics

A good coach takes the time to understand what motivates each person they’re coaching. If you know your team, you’ll have done the groundwork. But don’t be afraid to talk to employees and ask them directly about what motivates them personally.

If you’re coaching a group, it’s also important to pay attention to team dynamics. When selecting which employees to coach together, think about personalities, existing relationships within the company, and who might work well together.


Personalising your approach to coaching is essential to get the best outcomes for your employees and company. Be adaptable and ready to make changes to maximise each individual’s ability to get the most from coaching.

Not everyone learns the same way. Some people are visual learners, some auditory, and some need practical activities rather than reading and listening to information and instructions. Consider the differing needs and learning styles within the group. Ensure a good mix of activities and approaches.

5. Motivate

Motivation grows from clear goals with a well-planned journey toward them. A coach can ensure employee engagement through goals that broadly follow these guidelines.

• Goals need to be specific. Unclear, vague, or shifting goals are demotivating. Make goals as concrete as possible.
• Employees need to see their progress. Goals should, therefore, be measurable rather than based on impressions and feelings.
• Make sure goals are achievable and realistic. It’s fine to set challenging goals, but there must be a good chance that the employee can reach them.
• Goals should also be relevant to an employee’s role within the company and the company’s vision. This might sound obvious, but it helps to actively tie in goals to an employee’s day-to-day work in a concrete and clear way.
• Having goals that are time-based is also essential. This is part of the road map for the coaching process. People not only want to know where they’re heading, but they also want to know how long the journey will take.

6. Feedback

Giving your employees feedback during coaching is incredibly important. Remember, motivation is a key outcome of coaching, and this can be lost if employees have no sense of how they’re doing or if they’re progressing.

Don’t assume a person who’s doing well at something necessarily knows that. Equally, if there are issues with progress or you see disengagement, communicating this is key.

Feedback can begin even before coaching starts; let staff know that the company appreciates everything they’ve contributed to the business so far. It’s really helpful for morale. For example, before guiding an employee to try new things, stretch themselves, and gain new skills, acknowledge their existing contribution and abilities.

7. Check Progress

During the coaching process, it’s a good idea to check in with employees about how they think things are going. This can be a quick meeting over a cup of coffee or a phone call. Get them to let you know of any concerns or issues they’re having and make any changes necessary. It’s also good to assess for yourself how things are going from your point of view.


Having set clear and achievable goals, it should be possible to check employees’ progress against these goals as well as the time factor you agreed upon. It could be that you need to adjust the timeline if people are struggling or their workload is causing a squeeze on the time they have available.


To complete the coaching process in a satisfying way, it’s good to meet the whole group and give everyone a chance to celebrate their progress in achieving their goals.

Prepare for this final review session. Make it a dynamic and celebratory event. Give employees a chance to share new knowledge and insights. Perhaps they’ve learned about how to streamline team velocity or run engaging stand-up meetings.

Ask employees to be honest about any aspects that were challenging or that didn’t go so well. Record the feedback you get at this stage, both positive and negative; it could be invaluable for planning your next coaching session.

Coaching Benefits Everyone

It’s true that coaching is an investment of time, effort, and often money. It can seem like extra work that doesn’t immediately lead to profits, especially when you’ve more immediate concerns, such as average order value e-commerce or growing your business or market share. But coaching employees can most definitely add value.

But it’s not a one-shot event; businesses need to commit to coaching regularly. As businesses and the roles within them evolve and change, employees need to feel empowered and equipped to keep pace with that change.

By making a commitment to ongoing staff coaching, a company can reassure staff of their importance and value and demonstrate investment in them as people. In this way, employee coaching can be hugely motivating to individuals within an organisation. This can only benefit the business as a whole.

This article was guest written by Jen Bunnell.

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