Coaching can be hugely beneficial to bring out the best in your employees, but there’s a catch.
The coach and coachee must take the initiative seriously and not view it as another thing to “accomplish” on their to-do lists. The coach should be committed to digging deep into their work and helping the coachees achieve their desired goals, while the coachee should be willing to dedicate time and effort to upskill themselves.
But the question is—how can your employees have productive coaching sessions that truly make a difference?
In this article, we’ll share the structure of an effective coaching session and some handy tips to help attendees make the most of these sessions.
Let’s get started.
The structure of an effective coaching session
Regardless of whether your coaching program is online learning-based or in-person, each effective session has roughly the same structure.
Here are the six main elements you can use to structure your organization’s coaching session:
1. Rapport building
The key to a comfortable and effective coaching session starts with building rapport.
Encourage the coach to create a relaxed and receptive environment where the coachees can focus their minds on the task. Short meditation sessions and breathing exercises work particularly well to help employees push away distracting thoughts and be fully present and focused.
Non-verbal communication is equally important here. Ensure the coach understands the importance of having friendly body language, maintaining eye contact, and giving coachees their personal space to absorb knowledge during each session.
Maintaining accountability is vital in any coaching or mentoring relationship.
This involves asking employees what actions they took to apply previously discussed strategies and what their experiences were. If they didn’t use them, the coach can also ask them why and offer alternative solutions.
Think of it as a quick Q&A session that will help you identify potential roadblocks, evaluate the effectiveness of proposed strategies, and open two-way communication between the coach and the coachee.
This part of the coaching session depends on your employees.
If the coach feels the employee has derailed their progress since the last session, they should focus on getting them back on track and then move forward. Similarly, if an employee wants a solution to an expected challenge, the coach should prioritize resolving that. The purpose of development focused conversations is to clearly outline these goals. Without doing so, charting a path forward is tough.
Suppose a marketing professional finds it difficult to do distributed marketing. In this case, the coach should work with the professional to understand where they're facing problems and familiarize them with key marketing strategies and techniques that can help them drive results.
The key here is to get a complete picture of the issue at hand and the end goals of these sessions. This will help you create measurable steps based on a specific timeframe, creating accountability for the employees.
This is where coaching really begins.
Ensure the coach helps employees see through the challenges from the right perspective, gain clarity, and work together to find the most effective path forward. Also important here is to align solutions for challenges with your organization’s desired goals.
Both the coach and employees should ask open-ended questions to achieve breakthroughs and clarify motives. This will enable both to map out a common success path by identifying roadblocks and finding appropriate solutions to overcome them.
In the last stage, the coach and employees should work together to develop action plans incorporating the discussed strategies and tactics to help them reach their desired goals.
Each outlined action item should have a realistic timeline to accomplish the tasks. It’s important that employees feel empowered to move forward. If they don’t, the coach should adjust the action steps to make them feel enthusiastic and dedicated to the process.
Using a goal-tracking application is one way to make sure everyone stays accountable and up-to-date on progress.
Additionally, a visual workflow software can be handy in managing collaboration, time and keeping everyone informed.
Ask employees about their main takeaways from the coaching session.
Getting (and implementing) feedback ensures everyone involved—the coach, employees, and management—are in sync with each other and have clear expectations.
It can also be helpful for scheduling a quick check-in to follow up on employee progress to meet any coaching gaps in the next session.
6 Tips for making the most of coaching sessions
Now that you have a clear structure for effective coaching sessions, let’s discuss how you can ensure your employees make the most of these sessions.
1. Identify your goals or area of focus
You won’t see any results if you don’t have a focus area and set goals to reflect the same. But if you do, your coach will know how to conduct coaching sessions to prioritize organizational values and goals and ensure employees come prepared for meaningful conversations.
You'll likely want to coach your employees on many things, but it’s important to have a clear focus and intention for each session to see results. List the areas you want the coach to work on with your employees. If you aren’t sure what to work on, let the coach know, and you can work together to identify objectives.
2. Choose the right coach
Every coach has their own coaching and leadership style. Ideally, you should pick someone who can build a positive and trusting rapport and build quality relationships with employees to improve coaching effectiveness.
Start by checking the prospect’s previous experience, their clientele, and the coaching techniques and models they use. Do they match your requirements? Do you think your employees will be comfortable working with them?
Additionally, ensure the coach understands the difference between coaching and mentorship and accordingly conducts the sessions to facilitate measurable skill improvement.
3. Emphasize session importance
Coaching is a commitment (usually six to 12 months), and it’s crucial employees understand this from the very beginning.
Your employees need to strategically manage time and make these sessions a priority. The easiest way to get employee buy-in is to help them see the value and how attending these sessions will help them reach their goals faster.
Also, make it mandatory for every employee to attend the coaching sessions on time. Unless it’s an emergency, don’t allow them to cancel or reschedule.
4. Encourage preparedness
Employees should see each coaching session as an opportunity to learn, to improve. Encourage them to make the most of it by coming prepared for every session.
Ask your employees to create an agenda outlining the most important issues they‘re facing at the workplace, how they have fared since the last session, and just a general progress report. This will give the coach a strong foundation to meet coaching gaps and take the session forward in a way that benefits the employee.
Additionally, employees should make a point to leave every coaching session with at least one specific action that will help them advance their current skill sets. They should also commit to completing this action before the next meeting.
Partner with the coach to brainstorm relevant homework that keeps employees invested in the initiative. This can include experimenting with a new technique, listening to a podcast, having a difficult conversation, or restructuring strategies.
5. Be open
In any effective coaching relationship, the coachee must be open and honest with their coach. This builds trust and connection, where the coach can ask challenging, thought-provoking, and powerful questions that enable the coachee to identify the root of their problems and what measures they can use next to see meaningful results.
On the other hand, if the coach spends most of the session “peeling off layers,” it'll only prolong the coaching process and reduce the effectiveness. So, encourage your employees to be vulnerable and transparent with the coach.
6. Expect change
the coach and employees may work together to make suggestions and changes to the usual way of doing things at the organization. Maybe they want to use AI writing assistants to write content faster or introduce a new step in the organization's onboarding process.
Don’t shoot down their ideas and build cases for why they won’t work in your situation. Instead, be willing to try them. You may be surprised by the results, plus, isn’t a positive change why you’re holding coaching sessions in the first place?
You can also work with the coach to support other employees through the change process, helping the latter make strategic shifts in their behavior, mindset, and beliefs that take the organization forward.
Leverage coaching to get exceptional results
The right coach can give you exceptional clarity on organizational goals and aspirations, helping you achieve your desired outcomes. Of course, your employees must be willing to engage, work hard, and take initiative to move past obstacles and fears, which takes absolute commitment.
To ensure no effort is wasted, consider using an end-to-end solution like Together for your employee coaching program. From building personalized employee profiles to automating coaching reminders to reporting success, you can use the software to make coaching effective and streamlined to drive overall success.