Here are the 5 most important coaching skills you’ll need to focus on to be a great coach for your staff

1. Active Listening
2. Asking Open Questions,
3. Goal setting
4. Accountability
5. Feedback

Let’s go through each of these:

1: Active Listening

We think 3 times faster than we can listen which is why it’s more difficult to listen. As they say…2 ears, 1 mouth –a good proportion for learning about others. Right! A key trick is to listen for key words and acknowledge them back.
Keep Eye Contact. Turn away from your Computer screen!! Listen for what is NOT being said as well as WHAT is being said.

A coach would have no hesitation in saying:
“You know what David, I hear what you’re saying about the success of the project but you seem anxious. Is there something else on your mind?

Are you a good listener? If you want to coach your staff, this is one of the hardest skills to master and we pay a lot of attention to it on our How To Coach Your Staff on-line Course.

Managers want to provide solutions.
Coaches want their staff to find the solutions.
You will have to stop talking and giving them the answers and start questioning and listening to their ideas. W.A.I.T. is an acronym that stands for Why am I talking! Use it when you catch yourself doing all the talking. Stop and WAIT!

2: Questions

The second is “Asking Open questions”:
Many of you will know that open questions are those that cannot be answered with a one word answer but I want to very quickly bring this to top of mind. If you are having trouble getting staff to talk, check the questions you are using.

Questions that begin with “Who” or When” or “Did you” or “Will you” or “Can you” often end in 1 word answers from staff.
Our objective is to:

Listen, with the intent of understanding. But if we don’t understand their answer we need to – Drill down by asking more questions.

The more open the questions, the more information you will receive.

Questions that begin with “How” “Tell me” “What” or “Why”, or example, tend to generate more meaningful answers because the person is forced to say a sentence. Please make a note of those if you aren’t familiar with them because they are the 4 most important questions that you can ask.
So here they are: The 4 most powerful questions you can ask are.

• How?
• Tell me about?
• What occurred then?
• Why is that so?

How did you get the project started?
Tell me about what’s most challenging for you.
What do you think could improve the outcomes?
Why do you think that would work?

In a coaching environment, the objective is for the staff to do most of the talking. If you find that you are doing most of the talking, there’s a good chance you are asking closed questions and advising or suggesting solutions in which case you are possibly mentoring.

3: Goal setting

Helping a staff member get clear on the topic they want to discuss and be specific may seem daunting but it’s not that hard to do. It does require the discipline however to keep probing for more understanding.

When trying to get clear on the goal for the session itself, a simple phrase:

“If I could grant you one wish for this session what would it be?" help’s them get really clear on the thing most important to them.

When discussing longer term goals, the goal discussion may take more time. In our on-line training, we teach you a powerful Coaching model used around the world that will give you structure and the ability to clarify goals. The two key things are:

• Keep challenging them to be more specific about what they want.
• Is it measureable – i.e.: how will they know when they have achieved it?

4: Accountability

Accountability is perhaps one of the hardest things managers tell me that they struggle with because in many companies, underperformance is accepted and “put up with”. Let’s face it. It’s tough to hold people accountable.

When managers are frustrated with the outcome from a staff member, I question them on how they briefed a task and it is not uncommon that there is lack of information provided to their staff.

In most cases, they expect that their staff know what to do and if not, they expect that staff would know to come and ask. Then when it does not occur, they blame the staff but they had not invested any time up front to ensure they were both on the same page.

You have to agree specific outcomes and how they will be evaluated if you want to be able to hold people accountable later.

Agree what success will look like and how the job will be evaluated.
Agree the key outcomes and whose responsibility it is.

5: Feedback

The 5th very important skill that Coaches use is giving feedback. I like to do this with enthusiasm because it’s so important to focus and build on what they are doing RIGHT!

As a coach, you believe that your staffs already know many of the answers – we covered this at the start of this coach training. If that is true, then trust them that they will be able to self analyse their own performance.

Try beginning your feedback session by asking them how they think they are going against the goals you both agreed. Then stop and listen.

If they dodge and weave, ask them to state what they remember the goals were. Be specific. You will find that by getting them to self analyse, they will most likely cover many of the issues that you wanted to address with them anyway.

If there are outstanding things that you’d like to share with them, ask if they would like some feedback from your perspective. Chances are they will say “Yes”.
Here, all you need to do is premise it by saying:

“What I see is” or
“What I noticed was”

and go onto tell them how you perceive the situation. Then ask them if that might be so. This is so important that Module 6 of our online course is almost totally dedicated to learning how to give feedback.

Author's Bio: 

Juliette Robertson is an Executive Coach offering webinar based Coach Training for new managers in "How to Coach Your Staff. Her 7 module coach training is globally accessible on-line and perfect for busy new managers who want the benefits of e-learning and access to qualified coaching tutors to help fast track their coaching skills.

To register for 60 minutes of free webinar based Coach Training, visit

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