coaching word cloud

When you think about your idol, your favourite athlete, musician, actor, what is it that makes them so successful? Is it raw talent, years of practice or perhaps something more. More often than not, behind each of these successful individuals is a great coach!

This is true in business too. Think about the most successful people in your business and chances are they have a coach already, or may even want to be a coach themselves.

What is coaching in the workplace?

There are many definitions of coaching and of course, it is only one of the many leadership styles successful leaders use.

Coaching is the art of facilitating the development, learning and performance of another” – The School of Coaching.

Another definition is by Myles Downey who said:

“Effective Coaching in the workplace delivers achievement, fulfilment and joy from which both the individual and the organisation benefit”

There are also many uses for coaching. problem-solving, building confidence, inspiring, achieving results, training and developing people, but also selfishly it will make your life easier in the long-term.

However, coaching does take time and in my job, I tend to hear a lot of people saying “it’s quicker to do it myself“, especially when correcting mistakes or developing people. That may be true but if you don’t tell them they are doing it wrong in the first place, you will be forever correcting their mistakes.

A practical example of coaching in the workplace

One of my recent sessions involved an audit partner who came to me with the problem of always being the last one in the office reviewing files and correcting mistakes, even though his auditors were experienced, well-trained professionals.  This meant that he was missing out on time at home with his family.

After asking a series of challenging questions, he came up with the idea that the next time he found a file with mistakes, he would go back to the auditor and let them know how many mistakes he had found, but not where they were.

When he first tried this approach, the auditor was taken aback. However, he took the file back and managed to find five out of the six mistakes himself. The next time he presented a file to the partner, there were next to no mistakes.

"give a man a a fish" quote about what is coaching in the workplace
Image credit:


What are the benefits of coaching?

The benefits of coaching are apparent both for the individual and for the business.

  1. Attraction, Recruitment and retention of top talent – investing in an individual coaching programme for you talented individuals not only allows them to develop further, but it also shows their value. Better still, train them in how to coach and they can then be your coaches for your next talent tier, developing your succession plan.
  2. Increased innovation & alignment of personal growth with organisational needs – let your people solve your problems. Often bringing business improvement teams together and getting them to self-coach not only means that you get a wealth of innovative ideas but also you are starting to build cross-functional relationships and self-problem solving.
  3. Increased employee engagement – an involved, listened to individual, that can carve out their own career path, not always vertically, will be more likely to stay with your business.


3 Tips for being a great coach

  • Develop a coaching contract – make it clear to your coachee what to expect from coaching. Ensure it’s confidential and that they feel safe to disclose things to you but also if you disclose to them that it’s a two-way confidential contract. Let them know what is going to happen and that there is a purpose, it’s not just to have a nice chat and a cuppa.
  • Use a simple model – There are many coaching models out there, just pick one that works for you. The most effective coaching sessions not only allow the coachee to come to their own conclusions but also gain their commitment to doing something about it. A great way to get them to explore this is to ask what might get in the way of them taking up their actions and what would be the impact of they don’t do it. The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
  • Ask the right questions – Of course we all know about open questions but think about some really useful opening question such as ‘what are your life aspirations?’, ‘what regrets do you not want to have?’, ‘what are you put on this earth for?’, ‘how do you want people to describe you?’. The more challenging the question, the more thought-provoking, however, remember to ask your coachee at the start for permission to challenge.

If you feel like you still need assistance in answering the question “What is coaching in the workplace?” please contact us today and we can discuss how our workshops can help you to create a high performing team.