3 Examples of Effective Coaching in the Workplace

3 Examples of Effective Coaching in the Workplace

The nature of coaching in the workplace may have changed amid the rise of remote work and hybrid workplaces, but it continues to be a hallmark of effective leadership. We look at a few examples of effective workplace coaching from which you can take inspiration. 

“Be a coach, not a boss” sounds like one of those tired aphorisms thrown around in business schools. It’s used time and time again to inspire managers and senior-level staff to become leaders who go beyond the traditional command-and-control style of leadership.

Most end up becoming authoritative managers anyway — it’s a deeply entrenched style of management, and many leaders simply don’t know how to coach people. But others understand how and why coaching works, using coaching techniques to mentor and motivate their team. 

But what exactly does “coaching” in the workplace mean? 

What is workplace coaching?

Here’s a bit of trivia: In the context of education and instruction, the term “coach” was used in the 19th century as slang for a private tutor who “carried” — like a horse-drawn coach — students to their goal of passing exams. This context predates the modern and arguably more prevalent usage of “coach” in athletics and sports. 

This distinction is important as many business leaders liken coaching in the workplace to aggressive instructions and corrections — like a sports coach in a game or match. But in the workplace, coaching should be a safe and comfortable experience for both the coach and the coachee. 

It’s about finding ways to help individuals learn and develop by addressing different areas of the employee experience, such as:

  1. Setting short and long-term goals
  2. Solving problems
  3. Improving work performance.

Broadly speaking, coaching involves improving your workers’ effectiveness, honing their strengths, and addressing their weaknesses. It’s about helping workers by giving them direction, tools, and resources to learn and develop, rather than outright telling them what to do and how to do it. 

For employees, coaching addresses a need for professional development opportunities — the top driver (59%) of a company’s culture according to the Global Talent Trends 2022: The Reinvention of Company Culture report by LinkedIn. 

Related Reading: How to Enhance Workplace Culture in a Post-Covid Hybrid Environment

Why mentoring and coaching in the workplace are more important than ever

The pandemic has transformed the workplace, and for many organisations, these changes, such as remote-first teams and hybrid working environments, are likely to be permanent. Case in point: a 2021 Cloudbooking survey found that 55% of workers across the UK and US want a mix of office and home-based work in the future, while another 9% want a combination of home, office, and approved public space.

Download: The Hybrid Workplace: An Employee Census Report

Of course, this shift in working environments introduces new challenges for managers and executives looking to provide learning and development opportunities. Fortunately, research shows that, when done right, remote coaching is just as effective as in-person coaching. A 2011 study found no significant difference in the effectiveness of in-person and remote coaching in terms of building relationships and problem-solving.

Real-world examples of great coaching in the workplace

It’s one thing to define workplace coaching, but what does it look like in action? What qualities do workplace coaches possess, and how are they translating coaching techniques into their management style? 

1. Embracing a ‘Coach Approach’ to leadership

When Shawnna Garrett first started her role at the College of the North Atlantic in Qatar (now the University of Doha for Science and Technology), she had a team of 25 people from diverse cultural backgrounds operating in a flat organisational structure. 

To lead a diverse team, Shawna adopted a “coach approach” to leadership, which uses evidence-based competencies recommended by the International Coaching Federation — a nonprofit organisation dedicated to professional coaching. These competencies centred on following a clear code of ethics, respecting confidentiality, establishing clear agreements, and maintaining active listening, to name a few. 

The ICF’s competency model provides a robust framework for coaching-based leadership, removing any ambiguity around the concept of workplace coaching. 

2. Giving feedback effectively

Providing feedback is a crucial component of coaching employees. The problem, however, is that many executives don’t know how to do it the right way. This may explain why a Gallup poll found that “only 26% of employees strongly agree that the feedback they receive helps them do better work.”

After years of visiting companies to understand how great feedback-givers operate, cognitive psychologist LeeAnn Renninger, together with her team of researchers, developed a scientifically-proven, four-point model for giving effective feedback.

  1. The Micro-Yes: A short question that signals the start of feedback
  2. Data Point: Naming what you saw or heard with as much objectivity as possible
  3. Impact Statement: Identifying the impact of the data point
  4. An Ending Question: Soliciting feedback from the receiver of feedback.

Learn more about this model by watching the video below.

Cloudbooking insight: As the modern workplace transitions from hierarchical, command-and-control structures to more agile and decentralised environments, managers need to be more conscious of the need for employees to feel psychologically safe. This means that feedback can no longer be about what workers did “right” or “wrong.”

Related Reading: Are You Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace?

3. Nurturing a growth mindset through employee autonomy

Growth-oriented organisations thrive because they care most about generating results, not vanity metrics like number of hours worked or downtime reduction. This paradigm is referred to as trust-based working, which is also the foundation of flexible and agile working environments. 

In an interview with the World Economic Forum, Dr Michael Ilgner, Global Head of Human Resources at Deutsche Bank, explains: “The old way is where you come in, work your time and leave again. But this way, you hand over the responsibility to people. You set them a task — ‘By tomorrow, we want to have that strategy done’ — then leave it up to them how effectively they use their time: how much they concentrate, how much they chat with colleagues, how much collaboration they need.”

Cloudbooking insight: Trust in your workers is a hallmark of coaching-based leadership. Give people the tools and information they need to do the work and give them the freedom to figure out how best to get that work done. 

This also applies to their working environment. Flexible working, or allowing workers to choose when and where to work, makes them happier, more productive, and less likely to burn out. 

Related Reading: Flexible Working: The Key to Health and Well-Being?

Is coaching in the workplace worth it?

If you’re still not convinced that workplace coaching is the right approach to leading your team, here’s another statistic that may clinch it. According to a study published in The Manchester Review, companies that invest in leadership coaching (i.e., training their leaders to learn coach-based techniques) generate nearly $100,000 or an ROI of 5.7x the cost. 

So, yes, coaching can work and be worth the money, whether you have a remote, hybrid, or in-office team. 

Discover more insights about workforce management by following the Cloudbooking blog. If your hybrid team needs a software solution to facilitate open communication and collaborative work, get in touch with the Cloudbooking team. Our workplace management platform is the perfect solution for improving employee visibility and supporting new ways of working (NWOW). Schedule an obligation-free demo to learn more.

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