Coaching is a method supervisors use to recognize and/or develop their employees.  Many employees are hungry to be coached, yet many supervisors don’t make it a priority.  Having a meeting with an employee to correct behavior isn’t necessarily coaching.  Instead, adopt the idea that you can make your employees better when you invest in their development through conversation.

There are two types of coaching; formal and informal.

Informal coaching occurs during day-to-day interactions and is conversational much of the time (sometimes called management by walking around).  It should be as intentional as formal coaching.  This type of coaching removes barriers and closes the gap which naturally exists between supervisors and subordinates.  Getting in the trenches alongside your employees allows you to catch them doing things incorrectly – and correctly – immediately.  It can prevent small issues growing into big issues.  Informal coaching can also promote confidence and perpetuate positive behaviors.

Formal coaching requires scheduling and planning.  Usually, formal coaching is structured and occurs as a one-on-one interaction between supervisor and employee.  The supervisor may need to initiate a coaching session; however, they certainly do not need to do all of the talking.  (Telling an employee what or how to do something is not coaching – that is directing.)  Let the employee do the talking.  Your role is to provide direction, often through questions.  Socrates was a master at this; thus, the concept of Socratic questioning.  Loosely defined, Socratic questioning is responding with a question.  Here is an example:

Employee: I think we should consider 4 day work weeks during the summer months.

Supervisor: Why is that?

Employee: I have heard of other companies doing it and their employees really like it.

Supervisor: What are some companies you know of?

Employee: No one specific.

Supervisor: Would it be helpful to bring examples to our next meeting of companies who have successfully implemented 4 day work weeks?

Employee: Yes.

Make it a point to coach your team and see what happens …