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Coaching In The Workplace

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If one were to think of the duties of a manager they would probably think of directing their teams, responsibility and providing positive results. A good manager is one that can realize that their employee’s successes are their successes and they need to do what they can to bring success to their teams. This includes knowing the difference between criticizing and coaching. Coaching is not something limited to a basketball court, but rather a skill have should be adopted into the workforce. If a manager was to receive work from an employee that contains mistakes or is improperly formatted as opposed to calling out their failures they should take the time to show them what was wrong and how to correct it. Research has proven that coaching leads to increased performance and productivity. Responsibility needs to be placed with leaders and management to form employees into being the best they can be.

Over the last two decades coaching in the workplace has become a much more popular concept. Top leadership has recognized its importance and has begun to train their managers on the best techniques and have seen the positive results from personal advancement and organizational competitiveness (Kim, Egan, Kim & Kim, 2013). If an employee knows there is a greater potential in their organization for advancement they will be looking for ways to grow professionally. Perhaps part of this change comes from the influx of millennials who are entering the workforce. This group, who were born after 1980, is driving change by being more engaged with managers, asking question and looking for praise and feedback. Millennials are taking the time to be educated and want to move up the corporate ladder. They need the room to grow and time to tap into their talents; they like goals and strive to achieve them. This group has also been exposed to ever changing technology for most of their lives and look for ways to use their resources in order to do their jobs (Contractor, 2013).

In contrast to the baby boomer generation a millennial is much more open to an ever-changing environment. They have embraced technology and by having extensive training in programs like databases, excel and presentations they are primed to move up within an organization. By coaching and mentoring these employees they will be groomed to take additional leadership within the organization they are a part of. One may ask what is coaching. It is the process of having people the tools they need to develop themselves to be effective employees. Coaching is not simply packaging management differently, but rather it is employee growth, development, and achievement. They remove the roadblocks each employee has to performance and in turn, enhancing creativity. An employee may not be aware of all the tools they have at their disposal to do their job, and by coaching them, they will be able to grow and improve. Management however is dealing with supervision, evaluation and meeting objectives (Van Wart, 2004).

An effective leader will be able to take management the step further to coach employees. By avoiding blame they can instead give specific and descriptive feedback to their employees on how to correct issues that may come up. Coaching involves realizing an employee can benefit greatly from personal guidance on certain tasks and responsibilities. By including coaching and mentoring to their teams a dealer can help to professionally develop an employee to grow within the organization. The best way to build an organization would be to have employees who take ownership, are engaged and accountable. The primary job of the leader would be to coach his team and mentoring them by providing the best career advice they can while developing their leadership skills. At the same time the employee should not try to be just like their leaders but instead learn from them and develop their own leadership styles. Coaching can be seen in all workplace fields. A strong leader knows the value in managing and leading people. Most importantly, they know how to hold their team accountable for being effective. They know how to coach their teams to high standards while rewarding successes (Traits that make a difference, 2005).

Without knowing how to bring the best out of their employees a leader will not see the type of results they are looking for. When looking for ways to effectively coach your teams there are 3 basic steps one should take. First they need to build quality, trusting relationships. This comes by being an effective leader who works closely with their employees as opposed to micromanaging them. Secondly they should communicate effectively by listening, driving engagement and seek feedback. Third they need to change behaviors and make sure they have the right employees in the right roles (Contractor, 2013). If they need to have detailed reports done on a daily basis they need to have someone in that role who understands excel. An effective leader would take this as a chance to build an employee and improve upon their abilities. If an employee is asked why they do not like their boss they may have answers such as they criticize them in front of others, they make employees look like fools or they insult them. Being in an environment like this will not lead anywhere (Fournies, 2000).

Instead an effective leader is one who is relatable to their employees. While there is a line that should not be crossed, they can still have a professional friendship. An employee cannot feel afraid to talk to leadership and ask for help when it is needed. They should not feel so intimidated that they let that fear hold them back. In an instance where an employee is looking to grow and their manager constantly puts them down and belittles their accomplishments they will not find the success they are capable of having. In essence, the employee is the one who has been let down in the situation. A good leader will be approachable and be able to communicate effectively. Communication is taken a step further by looking for feedback and creating an open dialog. A leader needs to be aware of what they are saying and how they are saying it. They need to be careful and not turn to criticism.

While expressing anger and irritation comes naturally a good leader will not let that happen. Criticism leaves an employee feeling like a loser, and ultimately they are not getting the help they need. Instead they should ask themselves what is at the root of an employee’s poor performance. They also need to determine if the employee is even aware that their work is substandard. Without having open communication lines the employee may even know that there is an issue. Instead they need to know what to do and how to do it. They should look for any obstacles that may be in the way and look for ways to overcome them as well as what the top priorities are. By embracing effective coaching they can look for better ways to solve issues before perusing termination. There are several big costs included in letting an employee go for performance reasons. While terminating employment may seem like the easiest solution in reality it isn’t. By retaining employees time will not be wasted on things like interviews and new hire training. In one example the following was given as an illustration:

Table 1: Fournies, 2000 p.25
This table shows how much it can cost to replace an employee. Most say that by simply investing a few weeks of time to coach an employee would have saved their company a lot of money. This chart is even a lower estimate. Some say the costs can raise even hire if they have to pay additional agency fees and relocation. These figures alone should be enough to encourage businesses to start looking at coaching employees to improve their skills. Coaching is something that can be incorporated into any field. As an example, leadership is not something normally taught in an accounting course, but without it, one will suffer in the professional world. There are few steps a leader needs to take in order to be successful, not only in accounting, but in any field. A CPA would be under intense scrutiny to make sure every figure is correct. Instead of firing an employee for their first mistake it would make more sense to develop them and improve their skills. Instead, leaders are better off to have skills like creating the vision, having a roadmap and recognizing successes.

It is also important to develop your partners and aid in their training. Leaders will establish a series of steps that provide not only technical training but also leadership training. A leader does not want to be the one who criticizes their work but instead coaching them on how to improve. Employees are actually intellectual assets of an organization and coaching will allow them to continue to grow (Carmichael & Brewer, 2009). By taking advantage of the expertise and knowledge of experienced employees and leadership, younger or less experienced employees will continue to grow. The result of this is better efficiency across the organization. In addition, coaching and mentoring can help guide an employee along their career path resulting in an employee well versed on company expectations as well as less turnover. Companies are always looking to increase retention and coaching is key to that. Coaching specifically allows individuals to resolve issues and concerns within the boundaries of a trusted and confidential relationship. This can help reduce frustrations on a personal level and improve the job satisfaction of the individual, providing a benefit for the organization.

Everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, but with proper coaching each person can realize their true potential (Drew, 2012). There are individuals who spend a great deal of time training others on the importance of coaching. Marshall Goldsmith is one such trainer who has been able to take his own experiences into the business world. He takes great pride in making people better executives. Over the years he has looked at the variables that affected a client’s future success and if they made an effort to improve. He believes that he should only be paid for results and in turn takes his coaching seriously. Goldsmith believed that if leaders understood how to achieve positive change, they would in turn implement it.

Leadership involves a relationship between real people; he sees the importance of being positive and supporting as opposed to cynical and critical. There also needs to be a two-way dialogue on how to improve. In his sessions he likes to ask for their ideas in improving efficiency and how to change perceptions. Goldsmith has described working with clients who are so callous that they put their employees down without even realizing to, to another executive who was looking for a way to take his team from good to great. In order to achieve a lasting and positive change you have to work with everyone involved and understand the importance of proper coaching (Goldsmith, 2006). Lastly people need to remember that a leader needs to lead by example.

If an employee sees their manager not doing things in an effective manner they are more likely to not be effective either. A leader cannot simply sit behind a desk all day, making personal phone calls or leaving mid day for an extended lunch break and expect their employees to not do the same. Instead they need to be engaging with their teams and look for their strengths and weaknesses. They must take advantage of the opportunities before them and lead their teams to success. With something as simple as looking for ways to coach as opposed to criticize they will be able to find the successes they need. By following the steps outlined above they will be able to take their teams to the next step professionally. In the end, it is a win-win situation for everyone.


(2005). Traits that make a difference. ABA Banking Journal,97(12), 24.

Carmichael, P., & Brewer, P. (2009). Financial leadership at cintas.
Strategic Finance, 91(2), 25- 30.

Contractor, S. (2013). Coaching means engaging employees. Bottom Line, 29(7), 13.

Drew, J. (2012). Generation next. Journal of Accountancy,213(6), 75-79.

Fournies, F. (2000). Coaching for improved work performance. Mc-Graw Hill.

Goldsmith, M. (2006). Where the work of executive coaching lies. Consulting to Management, 17(2), 15-17.

Kim, S., Egan, T., Kim, W., & Kim, J. (2013). The Impact of Managerial Coaching Behavior on Employee Work-Related Reactions. Journal Of Business & Psychology, 28(3), 315-330. doi:10.1007/s10869-013-9286-9

Van Wart, M. (2004). a comprehensive model of organizational leadership: The leadership action cycle. International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior, 7(2), 173-208.

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