Coaching in the workplace

The purpose of coaching is to help people change. In the work situation this is usually about improving performance.

Beyond work it includes career and personal development and helping somebody make significant life changes. Real change is difficult for most people so the coach has a crucial but difficult role to fulfill.

In this blog article we will look at different types of coaching, the skills and qualities required by the coach and the difference between directive and non-directive coaching.

Types of coaching

The most common types of coaching include:

Executive coaching, which is targeted at developing those at the most senior levels of an organisation in order to improve the productivity of the business.

Performance coaching, which is specifically geared towards enhancing an individual’s performance in their current job role.

Career coaching, which focuses on the career concerns of the individual, with the coach using feedback on the individual’s strengths and aspirations to discuss career options.

Skills coaching, which focuses on improving and developing the key skills an individual needs to perform effectively in a role.

Life coaching, which involves working with individuals who wish to make some form of significant change in their life, and providing support as they explore how they might achieve their personal aspirations.

There are obvious similarities across these types of coaching and some overlap is inevitable. A skilled coach will recognise that some clients will require elements of some or all of these and it is impossible to approach them entirely separately.

The skills and qualities of the coach

1. Active listening

In coaching, listening is more important than talking. Active listening is listening for full meaning without making premature judgments or interpretations of what is being said. An active listener tries to grasp the facts but also tries to understand the feelings behind the words.  By listening well, people can be helped to overcome their concerns, be offered complete objectivity and given undivided attention and unparalleled support. It takes a lot of concentration.

2. Questioning skills

It is the coach’s job to encourage the person to open up and talk. Asking open-ended questions, rather than questions that require a one word reply, help facilitate the flow of the conversation. Open-ended questions start with “how, when, why, where, who. An example would be “How do you feel about your recent promotion?”

3. Reflecting feelings

A good coach is good at reflecting feelings which he/she picks up during a coaching session. The coach’s reflection of feelings communicates that he/she understands and emphasises with the problem. This can motivate the coachee to examine in more depth the issue under discussion

4. Creating a trusting relationship

A coach’s ability to build rapport with people is vital. Normally such an ability stems from a desire to help people, which all coaches need to possess. The quality of the relationship between the coach and the person being coached will greatly affect the outcome of the coaching. The coachee needs to trust the coach and it is the coach’s job to ensure that he/she does. Good coaches can create a trusting environment in which personal and confidential issues can rise to the surface if needs be.

5. Being supportive

By being helpful and supportive the coach encourages the person to take responsibility for his/her own actions and development. Coaching relies much more on motivation and interpersonal influence than getting others to comply through formal authority or threats. When someone receives attention and personal investment from a coach then this in itself can be motivational and inspirational. Most of us benefit from somebody listening to us and responding in a non-judgmental way.

6. Being flexible

Coaching patterns vary; people’s needs are different, circumstances and timings are unpredictable, so coaching relationships do not follow a single set formula. Remembering that everyone is different and has different needs is an essential part of being a coach. Having the flexibility to react to people’s differences is crucial in coaching.


In high growth businesses, coaching is becoming a popular alternative to formal training. Organisations are seeing it as being more relevant to their needs as it often uses a real, live work situation as the basis for the coaching.

Effective coaching leads to:

  • Maximum support for the individual.
  • Powerful motivation and more enjoyment in continuous improvement and learning.
  • Increased self-awareness and much enhanced confidence.
  • Effective communication and better relationships.
  • Development of life and professional skills.
  • A substantial increase in performance levels.

If you would like more information about the winning (formula) ® approach to leadership coaching please drop me a line.

Best wishes on the growth journey, wherever it may take you.

John Stein – Founder of the winning formula


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This entry was posted on Monday, October 29th, 2012 at 9:32 am and is filed under High Performance Working, Management Development Tips, The Growth Manager. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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