Effective Coaching: The Do’s and Dont’s

Posted on December 30, 2012 by VITAL WorkLife

Updated June 16, 2021

Do Model Strong Skills 

One of the strongest ways to influence others is to model the growth you are encouraging. One of the best ways to encourage your employees to grow and develop is to share that you, too, are on a developmental track.

Do you have a career development plan? Do you, yourself, work with a mentor or coach to develop needed skills and perspectives? Do you invest in your own personal development through in-depth reading, training, coaching and self-reflection?

Don't Jump In

When employees have problems, don't jump in and solve them unless they're truly drowning. Ask, "What are your ideas?" or, "What steps do you think you should take?"

If they're truly at a loss, share a strategy you used to solve a similar problem in the past. Ask them to make connections between that problem and the ones they're facing. What are the similarities and differences? How will their solution differ from the one you used?

Do Delegate Challenging Tasks

Part of your job is to grow talent and nothing is more developmental than hands-on experience. Look for tasks to delegate that are challenging but not so mission-critical that a trainee's inevitable mistakes won't cause financial or career damage. In addition, make sure:

  • You've set aside enough time to train and coach your employee
  • You're confident your employee has the skills and savvy to handle the task
  • You're comfortable giving your employee room to fail and learn from his or her mistakes

Don't Over-React To Mistakes

Point out mistakes and make sure employees correct them but don't stifle initiative or creativity in the process. People learn best from experience and mistakes tend to be the most educational type of on-the-job experience.

Do Ask the Right Questions

One of the best ways to develop employees who'll do things the way you want them done is to ask lots of questions about the way they do things now and why they do them that way:

  • What motivates you? Is this employee more motivated by money and bonuses or the desire to create great products? If it's money, ask what it is about money that's so appealing. Is it security or the joy of impressing friends? The more you know about what motivates your employee and why, the better able you are to determine if what worked for you will be equally effective in motivating your direct report.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you and your employee in sync in your perceptions? Does he or she have hidden strengths or problem areas of which you weren't aware?
  • What do you like best and least about your current job? Look for the things that excite or motivate your employee in their current position. This employee may be the ideal go-to person for a task everyone else on your team dislikes doing.

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