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How to coach employees and develop their potential

Published 14 Nov 2021

Growing our knowledge is one of the fastest ways for us to evolve. It’s invaluable to everyone, both professionally and personally. Without learning and development, we don’t have innovation. We don’t have creativity, growth or transformation.

Learning at work can help employees tackle unique challenges, spark new ideas, build confidence, and keep their skills relevant. It’s also a great retention tool, something that’s more important than ever during the current climate of the Great Resignation.

This guide to employee coaching and development covers:

  • Why employee development is essential
  • The four different learning styles
  • Future-focused upskilling
  • Development pathways
  • Learning tools
  • Learning templates

Download our guide on how to coach employees and develop their potential now.

How to implement coaching in the workplace

Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?

With a fixed mindset, you believe that your skills and talents are set in stone. Your current skill set is your only skill set, and there’s little point in branching into other areas that don’t fit your ‘innate’ abilities.

With a growth mindset, you believe that skills and talents are expandable. Even if you’ve never tried something before, you have the potential to master it in time. You’re open to learning in fields that are currently unknown to you.

In our rapidly evolving world, a growth mindset is a key to success. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025.

By then, an estimated 85 million jobs will fade into obscurity due to technological advancements, and 97 million more will emerge to meet the demands of future tech.

If we drop the future-focused lens, we can also recognise that a lifelong relationship with learning can make you a happier person. Learning can make you feel connected to what’s happening around you and build self-confidence.

When we learn at work, we prepare ourselves for what’s coming next. We create an environment that’s fertile for new ideas. It’s all about taking up those everyday coaching opportunities.

What is coaching in the workplace?

Coaching in the workplace is the active role that employees in leadership positions take in training, developing and encouraging their teams. We see coaching as an umbrella term for all things learning and feedback.

Just as an athletic coach organises training for their team and provides after-race advice, workplace coaches cover everything from helping team members to complete courses to providing constructive criticism on a piece of work.

Throughout their development, employees know their coach is cheering them on.Will Ferrel cheerleading

Big supportive energy.

What are the differences between remote and in-person coaching?

Workplace coaching is just as applicable in remote working environments as it is in person. One thing that applies to any kind of remote management, however, is the need for a greater sense of intentionality.

When you’re working in the office, spontaneous opportunities often arise. A team member might have the opportunity to sit in on a meeting or watch as someone demonstrates a task. This isn’t the case for remote teams.

Remote workplace coaching can still be highly effective, but it’s worth remembering that it might take a bit more planning to make it work.

What are the benefits of workplace coaching?

Implementing effective coaching strategies can create a ‘culture of coaching’, where two-way feedback and shared knowledge moves around the business. Workplaces that master this can develop as a team faster and open more doors to innovative thinking.

Bring new skills into your workforce

We’ve already mentioned that the WEF is predicting mass upskilling between now and 2025.

When you honestly evaluate your business, do you have the internal skill base to meet changing business demands and remain competitive?

Your team’s knowledge base is your business’s greatest asset. Without a highly-skilled workforce, it’s unlikely that your business will be able to compete with other innovators in your industry.

If you start the ball rolling now by implementing coaching in the workplace, who knows where you could collectively be by 2025?

Create development pathways

Do you have that member of your team who’s just a powerhouse of company information? We’re willing to bet that they’ve been with your business for a while.

The best talent that stays with a team doesn’t do so without a reason. Most of the time, they’ve been nurtured in their roles and have followed development pathways.

When you have an effective coaching relationship with your employee, you can tailor their development pathway and support them on their journey down it.

Consider creating a formal mentoring program at your company to encourage employee coaching relationships within the organisation.

Erin from the Office cheering
We’re THIS excited about career development.

Reduce employee turnover

How likely are you to look for a new role when your current business is committed to developing you?

A natural result of having a workplace culture that supports coaching is improved employee performance and a reduction in turnover. The more that employees feel invested in and valued, the more likely they are to feel higher job satisfaction and stick with you for the long haul.

The Work Institute estimates the cost of turnover at between 33% and 200% of the departing employee’s salary. Anything you can do to make an employee stay with your business is worth its weight in gold.

Improve workforce adaptability

Employee training triggers a positive loop. The more you learn and see the benefits of new skills, the more open you are to further learning opportunities.

We’ve spoken about 2025 being the next big skill shift milestone, but the demand for upskilling won’t stop there. If we reflect on the last decade, some of the most prominent occupations today – like social media manager, app developer or content creator – require a set of specific skills, yet they barely existed back then.

We predict that adaptability, with an ability to rapidly embrace technological and social trends, will soon become one of the most highly regarded skills an employee can have.

Attract the new generation of candidates

According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report, 76% of Gen Z learners believe learning is the key to a successful career. That’s a big chunk of the incoming workforce who are prioritising a coaching culture.

Coaching cultures can be a great addition to your Employer’s Value Proposition (EVP). Demonstrating your commitment to coaching employees can be a huge green flag to get eyes on opportunities within your business.

How to build a coaching culture at work

Unlock a growth mindset within your team by exploring these different coaching methods and tools.

1. Implement one-on-one meetings

It’s no coincidence that one-on-ones (1:1s) are the first strategy on this list. One-on-ones are a double whammy of being both a type of coaching session and a tool to help you identify areas for coaching.

Feedback and performance discussions shouldn’t be saved for annual performance reviews. It simply doesn’t make sense for a manager to hold their tongue when they can coach their team members right now.

1:1s are a confidential meeting between a manager and their direct report that occurs weekly or fortnightly. They are the best opportunity to give regular feedback to members of your team. In a supportive environment, the manager can coach the employee through their current workload.

1:1s can also illuminate larger gaps in an employee’s knowledge or start discussions about their long-term goals. They are a fantastic space to discuss bigger workplace coaching objectives.Meryl Streep cheering and saying 'YES'

Three cheers for supportive managers.

2. Identify coaching opportunities around the team

There will be times when coaching employees needs to be done by an external coach, like if you’re sending your team to an academy or for a specialised course. There will also be opportunities to link people up within a business to achieve specific goals.

For example, you could link up two employees in different countries to help each other better understand their local markets. You could link someone in marketing to someone in engineering to learn a different approach to project management. When you start mapping out needs and internal skills, you’ll be surprised at how many matches you can make.

Remember, workplace coaching is not just for junior team members. Sometimes you have to coach the coach. Executive coaching is a critical part of business success. Learning should be happening at every level in your business, so don’t be afraid to seek external coaches to improve your coaching capacity within your organisation.

3. Run ‘Lunch and Learns’

Lunch and Learns are one of our favourite peer-to-peer coaching methods. This team coaching involves an employee sharing a presentation about their area of expertise – over snacks! It’s a great way to bring people together over a shared objective of growing knowledge.

Once a month, seek out the experts you have in-house and ask them to run an informal lunchtime training session or presentation for the team. Don’t forget to incentivise this one, reward your expert workplace coach for their time, effort and generosity.

4. Explore coaching styles

When you’re building a coaching culture, it’s important to remember that people have different learning styles and may adopt different coaching styles.

Some might need visual references to help them absorb information, some might want written feedback or instruction, and some will learn best through active listening.

Did you know that there are four defined learning styles?

  • Kinaesthetic learners prefer a hands-on approach to learning. They learn most effectively when they perform the task themselves and enjoy sessions that include group-based participation.
  • Visual learners understand tasks and content by watching something prior to trying it themselves. They respond well to visual stimuli and learning materials and use visual elements they’ve seen to recall information.
  • Auditory learners understand information when it is explained in a step-by-step format. They learn best when they talk things through with others or actively listen to others speaking, either through a lecture, discussion or presentation.
  • Read and write learners learn by reading content or instructions and then writing it out in their own words. They’re well organised avid note-takers and digest information when they write down and re-read the information.

It’s not possible for every workplace coach to have a coaching style that caters to all learning styles. Could you try a few different coaching strategies that align with different styles and ask your team to evaluate what worked best for them?Ron Weasley eating and reading a book intensely

Learning intensifies.

We can help you create a powerful coaching process

Employment Hero is tailor-made to help you get your workplace coaching plan in motion. Don’t rely on good intentions alone, our suite of employee engagement tools can help you make a coaching culture a reality. Across the platform, we’ve prioritised performance and communication tools to help you cheer your team on.

Learn more about our powerful company goal-setting software and our robust Learning Management System, all bundled in our HR systems software.

Interested in going deeper into employee coaching? Download our guide on how to coach employees and develop their potential now.

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