Learning and Development

What is performance coaching and how you can use it in the workplace?

Performance coaching is based on the science of human motivation and behaviour. It's incredibly powerful for increasing employee engagement and output. Here's everything you need to know about performance coaching.

Ryan Carruthers

Published on 

July 28, 2022

Updated on 

Time to Read

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The State of Coaching and Mentoring 2022 report shows that 65% of HR professionals agree or strongly agree that coaching is an important part of their organization's strategy. Yet, only 39% strongly agree that their mentors do a great job at coaching.

Coaching, when done right, can be a key driver to organizational success. A study shows that executive coaching has a staggering 788% ROI

The problem is that most leaders don't know how to do it well.

If you're introducing performance coaching in your workplace, you should keep a few things in mind:

  1. It's important to clearly understand performance coaching and how it differs from other development tools.
  2. You'll need to decide what approach will work best for your organization.
  3. You'll need to put together a plan for implementing performance coaching across your organization.

What is performance coaching? (the science and methodology)

Performance coaching is the process of helping individuals or groups identify their strengths and areas for improvement to achieve their goals. It follows a four-step process: assessment, goal setting, action planning, and implementation:

  • assessment, 
  • goal setting, 
  • action planning, and
  • implementation.

This process is followed in everything from improving athletic performance to improving work performance.

There are many different approaches to performance coaching, but the core is always the same: help people achieve their goals by providing them with the tools and knowledge they need

Let’s look at the other employee coaching principles.

Core principles and science supporting performance coaching

Performance coaching is based on the science of human motivation and behaviour. This science tells us that people are motivated by various factors, including the need for achievement, affiliation, power and autonomy. For a performance coaching program to be effective, it must consider these fundamental drives.

Numerous coaching consulting firms and even tech companies (BetterUp and Hintsa) claim to improve your organization's performance. They all have methods, models and science behind them. 

Some models include:

  • Peer coaching model
  • Various models for life coaches
  • Directive coaching models
  • Grow coaching model
  • Instructional coaching models
  • Group and team coaching models
  • Executive and career coaching
  • Various models for leadership development

Many companies have their own proprietary models as well. Hintsa's approach, for example, is based on the latest findings in behavioural science, neuroscience and psychology. 

We don’t blame you if it’s overwhelming. You may wonder if performance coaching should even be on your priority list. Shouldn’t it be the employee's responsibility to grow?

Is coaching really necessary? The benefits of performance coaching

When it comes to workplace performance, there is always room for improvement. But is coaching really necessary? Some may say that employees should learn independently or that it is their responsibility to improve their performance. 

Others may argue, "we have an L&D program. Why do we also need to coach employees?" Let’s take a look at the benefits of performance coaching.

Performance coaching provides personal, tailored advice

Each employee has different development needs. 

  • Some may need help improving their time management skills, 
  • while others may need assistance with communication or problem-solving.

Performance coaching helps employees identify their specific development needs and create a tailored development plan to address them. This individualized attention is one of the key advantages of coaching over other development methods such as workshops or webinars, which often provide generalized information that is not always relevant to the individual.

Coaching is also in contrast to traditional development methods such as training courses, focusing on passive absorption of information.

It's an objective third-party view into how employees can improve

Most people are not great at self-reflection. We tend to see ourselves through rose-tinted glasses, or we might be too close to the situation to view it objectively. People might be great at their job, but they might not be so great in a stressful situation or when an incident occurs. A mentor can help them deal with stressful events, share some key incident metrics and how to recover from an incident quickly to get the work back on track, and much more. This is where a performance coach comes in – coaching provides that objective third-party view that helps employees see where they can improve.

Coaching helps employees to see the bigger picture and how their individual goals fit into the organization's wider objectives. This gives them a renewed sense of purpose, drive and helps them to feel more invested in their work.

Delivery is flexible; coach in the flow of work or have dedicated sessions

Coaching can be delivered in several ways to suit the needs of the organization and the individual employees. 

  1. It can be delivered in the flow of work, which means the coach works with employees on specific tasks or projects as they are being carried out. This is a great way to provide real-time support and feedback. It also helps employees apply what they are learning immediately.
  2. Alternatively, delivery comes in dedicated sessions, allowing employees to step away from their work and focus solely on their development. This is a good option if specific areas need to be addressed or employees need more time to reflect on their progress.

Coaching increases engagement and strengthens retention rates

Performance coaching helps to increase employee engagement by providing regular feedback, helping them identify and develop their strengths, and supporting them in their career development.

Engaged employees are more likely to be productive and produce high-quality work. It’s because they feel supported in their development.

Strengthening retention rates is another benefit. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to stay longer with the organization. They also develop a sense of loyalty to the organization.

It's not just for 'problem' employees – everyone can benefit from coaching

Performance coaching is often seen only for 'problem' employees who are underperforming or causing difficulties in the workplace. However, this is not the case. It benefits all employees, regardless of their level of performance.

Everyone benefits from having someone to talk to about their work to help them reflect on their progress and identify areas for improvement.

How can you be a great coach?

A coach is an invaluable asset to any individual or team trying to improve their performance in the workplace.

There are a few key things that make a great coach:

  • The ability to develop relationships: A great coach understands that the relationship between coach and employee is key. The coach must build trust and rapport with their employees to be successful.
  • Good listening skills: A great coach must be a good listener. They need to understand what a coachee is saying and help them find solutions to their problems.
  • Patience: A great coach must be patient. They need to be able to handle difficult situations and help their coachee work through them.
  • Be passionate about what you do. Enthusiasm is contagious; if you're excited about coaching, your team will be too.
  • Be a good communicator. Explain things clearly and listen to your coachee's questions and concerns.
  • Be positive and supportive. Encourage your coachees and help them believe in themselves.

Examples of performance coaching at work

Some examples of skills that employees can be coached on include:

  1. Time management – Employees receive coaching on how to better manage their time, for example, by learning how to prioritize tasks and create a realistic schedule.
  2. Communication – Employees receive coaching on communicating more effectively, for example, by learning to assert themselves or active listening.
  3. Conflict resolution – Managers or leaders get coaching on how to better handle conflict, for example, by learning to identify and manage emotions or have difficult conversations.
  4. Goal setting – Employees receive coaching on how to set and achieve goals, for example, by learning to create SMART goals or break down a goal into smaller steps.
  5. Problem-solving – Managers and employees receive training on how to better solve problems, for example, by learning how to brainstorm or use the scientific method.
  6. Stress management – Employees get formal training on how to better manage stress, for example, by learning to identify and reduce stressors in their life or practising relaxation techniques.
  7. Team-building – Managers or leaders get coaching on how to better build and lead a team, for example, by learning how to delegate tasks or give feedback.
  8. Public speaking – Employees receive coaching on how to better give presentations or speeches, for example, by learning to overcome stage fright or craft a compelling story.
  9. Networking – Employees receive coaching on how to better network, for example, by learning how to make small talk or work in a room.
  10. Leadership – Managers or leaders receive coaching on how to better lead, for example, by learning to give feedback or develop a vision.
  11. Sales – Employees receive coaching on how to better sell products or services, for example, by learning how to overcome objections or close a deal.
  12. Customer service – coaching employees on how to better serve customers, for example, by learning how to handle difficult customer service situations or defuse customer anger.

How to start a coaching program in your workplace

Starting a coaching program in the workplace seems easy, but developing an effective program is not—to help you get the best out of it, we've put together the following best practice.

Choose a type of coaching

The model of coaching to choose will depend on organizational needs, as well as the goals and objectives of the coaching program. 

There are four primary types of coaching programs

  1. Executive coaching comes in handy when organizations need to improve the performance index of their most important leader. It's also effective for helping them work on factors hampering their performance.
  2. Integrated coaching is an approach where coaching is done as part of a bigger leadership development program. The coaching might last for a shorter time than executive coaching, but it helps ensure that the leadership development learnings "stick."
  3. Team coaching is effective for teams at all levels of an organization—it helps teams work together effectively. This can be done in a structured way, such as during a retreat, or in a less structured way, helping team members interact better.
  4. Virtual coaching is the most common type of coaching in the workplace. This type of coaching is perfect for teams spread out across different countries and time zones. Coaches do this by using video, emails, and instant messaging tools to communicate.

Find exceptional employees to be coaches

After knowing the coaching type to adopt at your workplace, you'll need to identify which employees would make great coaches. 

To do this, look for employees who:

  • have extensive knowledge about your company's products, services, and processes
  • are patient and good communicators
  • can give constructive feedback
  • are respected by their peers

Once you've identified potential coaches, invite them to participate in your coaching program. Be sure to explain what's expected of them and what they expect to get out of the experience.

Create an easy way to match coaches with employees

Create a system for matching coaches with employees. This can be as simple as creating a list of available coaches and their areas of expertise and then allowing employees to request a coach.

However, most organizations get it wrong regarding good matches. This is why we put together this piece on the right way to match coaches with employees.

For a good match, you might want to look at the following features:

  • Compatibility: Does the coach's personality fit well with the employee's?
  • Expertise: Is the coach knowledgeable in the areas the employee wants to improve?
  • Schedule: Can the coach and employee meet at a time that works for both of them?

Once you have a system for matching coaches with employees, you need to promote the program. Ensure employees know the benefits of coaching and let them know how to sign up for coaching sessions. You may also want to offer incentives for employees who participate in the coaching program. 

Create open forums for collaboration

A great way to encourage collaborative coaching is by creating an open forum by setting up an online space or a knowledge sharing platform like Together Live Q&A.

A knowledge sharing platform is important for a coaching program because it allows coaches and employees to collaborate. This collaboration allows for exchanging ideas, giving and receiving feedback, and solving problems.

The platform also allows coaches to share resources with employees, which helps them in their development. Additionally, the platform can be used to announce upcoming events, like webinars or in-person training sessions.

Monitor progress

Monitor progress regularly to ensure that the coaching relationship is still working well and achieving its goals. If not, don't be afraid to make a change. The most important thing is that the employee receives the help they need to be successful.

Employers should ask their employees if their performance has improved since starting the program. Managers should also be asked if they've noticed any changes in employee performance.

Also, keep an open door policy, so employees feel comfortable coming to you with any concerns or questions. Encourage employees to meet regularly with their managers to discuss their progress and get feedback. These check-ins can be weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on what works best for you and your employees.

Iterate and improve

As with any new initiative, it's important to review your coaching program regularly and make necessary adjustments. Iterating and improving based on feedback will help you create a strong coaching culture in your workplace that leads to better employee performance and satisfaction.

If you do not see the desired results, it may be time to consider a different coach or approach. Review your goals and measurement criteria to ensure they're still relevant and achievable. 

It's also important to keep up with the latest research on coaching. This will help you ensure that your program is based on best practices. Finally, don't be afraid to try new things. By continually experimenting, you'll be more likely to find ways to improve your coaching program.

Together makes it easy to build a coaching culture

Together platform makes it easy to build a coaching culture by providing a simple, effective way for coaches and managers to connect and work together. By bringing the power of coaching into the workplace, we help organizations build high-performance, engagement, and retention cultures.

Through our platform, coaches can access best-in-class resources, receive ongoing training and support, and connect with other coaches.

Get started with Together today for free.

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