Coaching is a development technique that involves a coach or consultant who works with an employee to help him or her develop skills and achieve professional or performance goals. The coach can be someone who works inside the organization, either a functional manager or a member of the L&D or HR team, or someone who is a professional coach or consultant who is brought in by the organization to work with one or more employee.

Types of Coaching

Formal coaching is a structured coaching relationship, typically with a professional coach or external consultant outside of the employee’s work environment. It tends to have a broad, long-term, career or performance focus.

On-the-job coaching is personal instruction provided on the job, during the employee’s workflow, typically by a manager or a peer. It tends to be specific to a certain situation or focused on a short-term goal.

In team or group coaching, the coach and coachees meet in a group – either a group of individuals from different departments or an existing team. The group holds each other accountable and learns from each other as well as from the coach.

Role-based coaching includes executive coaching, which is formal coaching provided to a senior leader, and sales coaching, which is typically provided by sales managers to their team members.

The Benefits of Coaching

Coaching of any type provides multiple benefits to employees and their organizations, including:

  • Improved employee performance
  • The development of new skills
  • Improved individual and team performance
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Better manager-employee relationships
  • Business growth
  • Conflict management

Training Industry research has also found that coaching can equalize leadership development access.

Coaching Best Practices

Regardless of the type of coaching, organizations should follow several best practices:

  • Encourage trust and confidentiality.
  • Coaches and coachees should set clear goals, with the input from the coachee’s manager.
  • In the case of formal coaching, hire trained, credentialed coaches. In the case of on-the-job coaching, train your coaches.
  • Formalize the coaching structure, even in the case of on-the-job coaching, to gain buy-in, measure results and ensure the coach and coachee have the time they need to benefit from the relationship.
  • Evaluate effectiveness. Work with the coach and coachee to identify goals and then track whether the goals are accomplished.
  • Communicate business changes and new strategies or initiatives to coaches so they can work with their coachees accordingly.
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