How to coach your team members

TL;DR: Being a coach to your reports is one secret to building a successful team of people that know how to solve problems, work independently, and advocate for themselves. But incorporating coaching into your management style may not be easy. Many managers struggle and go back to taking over tasks instead of letting reports navigate more of their careers. This playbook will help you build a thriving team with your leadership strategies at the helm.

How do you coach your team? How can managers be the best coaches and mentors for their teams?

Management is a complex term. The growing concern with employee enablement and well-being has changed the notion of an ideal management style, and it can be challenging to determine what works for your company and its various teams.

Many leaders are now including elements of coaching in their leadership at work. Coaching allows leaders to support employees in improving work and life performance and satisfaction. Coaching has several benefits for companies, like improved profitability, increased productivity, and better customer satisfaction.

Today’s best leaders are coaching their teams to success; as they do so, they become more than managers: they’re mentors. Coaching is no simple task, but by following the steps outlined in this playbook, you’ll be able to coach your team effectively, offering them the support they need.

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Wann Sie dieses Playbook verwenden sollten

When to use
this playbook

Use this playbook if you notice engagement numbers declining or if you’ve received feedback from team members that they’re looking for more guidance from their team leads.

You should also use it if your company has just undergone a restructuring or massive growth and you’re looking to promote more employees from within and equip new managers with the resources they need to support their direct reports.

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Was Sie für dieses Playbook benötigen

What you’ll need for
this playbook

Goal-setting tools & processes

A screenshot illustrating how you can use Leapsome Goals to set personal goals.
Set and track collaborative goals and help direct reports grow with Leapsome Goals

To coach a team well, you need a systematic approach to help employees set and track their development goals. A tool like Leapsome Goals leverages AI so you can create goals quickly and adjust them so they align with overall company objectives. 

Easily accessible competency frameworks

Competency frameworks create a clear professional roadmap for every role within your organization, highlighting the skills every employee needs to excel in before getting a promotion. As long as everyone has access to them, they can simplify coaching team members because they keep everyone on the same page about possible career paths within the company.

A reliable performance management system

A screenshot of the heatmap dashboard within Leapsome Reviews.
Leapsome Reviews shows you company-wide performance data so you can identify which employees need the most support

We know that more team members want feedback from their managers, yet 77% of respondents to our 2023 State of People Enablement Report rated their company’s performance review processes as “bad.” 

A solid performance management (PM) system isn’t about holding employees accountable — it’s about showing them when they’re on the right path with their career goals and helping them create an action plan for improvement when they’ve gone off track. Thankfully, Leapsome Reviews has the templates, automations, and analytics you need to create a powerful, development-oriented PM system.

Hinweise & Tipps
  • Create a team charter to keep everyone engaged with your mission. As a centralized document for outlining your objectives, team practices, and overall purpose, it can help keep team members on the same page about your expectations for collaboration.
  • Coaching your team is a two-way process. It’s hard to get feedback on where you are making mistakes (even if it is constructive feedback). Being open about your own mistakes and what you did to move past them is a great way to improve weekly 1:1s and team meetings/coaching sessions. Sharing this information helps open up your employees and promotes a culture of psychological safety.
  • You don’t have to do this alone. Work with your supervisor to get support and learn techniques for improving your coaching abilities. Many leaders seek the help of outside consultants and business coaches.
  • Take personalities into account when building your coaching relationship with each person. Introverts and extroverts might take your coaching differently. So might people with different gender identities, from different generations, or from varied backgrounds. 
  • Need help figuring out how to get started as a coach? Host office hours with your team: If you’re in the office, set up times when you will be available for employees to drop in, ask questions, get advice, etc. You can do the same remotely by setting up a video conferencing link for employees to join.

How to run this People Ops Playbook:

Wie Sie dieses People Ops Playbook durchführen:

1. Get a deep understanding of your reports & their career goals

Before you begin coaching your team, you have to know what their career goals are. If you start this journey without discussing goals and development, you might offer biased guidance that negatively impacts their career and well-being.

Create space for these conversations with your reports. Set up an hour with each of your team members to go over short- and long-term goals. Ask questions like:

  • Where do you see yourself professionally in the next two to three years?
  • Are there any big goals you’d like to accomplish? How can I help you get there?
  • What is one thing you wish I knew about you or your working style?
  • Do you think about your long-term career goals? What’s your dream title/industry?
  • What would your ideal work routine look like in a perfect world?

After you’ve made time for these conversations, encourage direct reports to create a set of personal goals or objectives and key results (OKRs) based on your discussions. To make this easier, use Leapsome Goals, which allows you to share goals asynchronously and write notes and feedback under key results. 

2. Discuss learning & development plans in your weekly 1:1s

A screenshot of a weekly 1:1 meeting agenda within Leapsome Meetings.
Use Leapsome’s free meeting software to set up ongoing agendas for 1:1 check-in meetings, write notes on key agenda points, and save action items for future planning

If your company has already taken the time to design a competency framework or career progression framework for every role in the organization, then you’ve got a great starting point for creating a development plan with your direct report. Take some time to go over these frameworks consistently and use 1:1 meeting time to help solidify your employee’s progression goals and development ideas. What does that person’s career progression look like at your company? How can your organization step up to help them grow professionally?

We suggest spending time in your weekly 1:1s to dive deeper into learning and development opportunities. It’s easy to spend your 1:1 time putting out fires, but make sure to put energy into discussing what progress each team member has made with their career objectives. During the meeting, team leads should ask questions like:

  • What progress have you made toward your development goals since our last meeting?
  • Have you encountered any obstacles or challenges in working toward your development goals? How can I help you overcome them?
  • Are there any specific skills or areas you'd like to focus on developing further?
  • What resources or opportunities do you need to achieve your development goals?
  • Are there any training programs, workshops, or courses you’re interested in that could help you grow professionally?

You can also advocate for leadership to make a platform like Leapsome Learning available to all employees to help them reach their development objectives. Leapsome Learning allows you to create customizable courses that are in line with your company’s competency frameworks, and team leads can even access management training within the Learning Marketplace

3. Provide opportunities for group coaching & mentorship

Now that you know exactly where every individual member of your team wants to go and you have a plan to help them get there, you can explore group coaching — which is also a fantastic team-building opportunity, especially if you run a dispersed department.

Here are some helpful group coaching ideas to get you started:

  • Weekly team brainstorming sessions where one employee shares issues and the team brainstorms solutions as a group.
  • Coworking sessions where employees come together, work, and discuss issues they have in real-time.
  • Sending out coaching emails or text messages to your team members based on conversations you’ve had with them. You can include insights and learnings — but of course, always be discreet and don’t share anything that a report wouldn’t want the group to know.
  • Team offsites where everyone can bond, plan, and get aligned for a new quarter or year.

4. Lean into “mistakes” as opportunities to grow

Guiding reports through the experience of making missteps is one of the essential aspects of coaching team members. It’s also one of the most challenging parts of the job, especially when their mistakes or blunders impact others’ work.

When giving feedback about a recent error an employee made, it helps to follow the Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) model:

  • Situation — Describe the specific context or moment in which the behavior occurred.
  • Behavior — Detail the behavior or actions you observed.
  • Impact Explain the impact of the behavior on you, the team, or the organization. For example, you might say, "During the last couple of team meetings (situation), I noticed that you interrupted or spoke over other team members multiple times while they were speaking (behavior). This made it difficult for the team to stay on track and disrupted the flow of the discussion (impact).”

Once the employee is aware of their own oversights, you can work together to create a system for overcoming or curbing bad work habits. This practice, as a whole, prevents a manager’s personal bias from dominating the conversation and focuses on concrete results and solutions instead. 

5. Become an expert at active listening 

Active listening is a non-negotiable soft skill for managers who want to identify issues within their team more readily, build engagement, and prevent turnover.

In the 2021 Harvard Business Review article How to Become a Better Listener, writers Robin Abrahams and Boris Groysberg outline three components that are required for active listening. They explain that active listeners take time to understand and process what they’re hearing, maintain calm and compassion, and show interest and a desire to understand. 

To train themselves to be better active listeners and coach a team more effectively, managers should:

  • Ask open-ended questions — Rather than leading team members to draw specific conclusions, encourage individuals to elaborate on their thoughts and feelings. This can help uncover deeper insights and promote a more meaningful dialogue.
  • Clarify for better understanding — When discussing a difficult topic, check that you correctly understood what someone said with neutral statements. For example: “If I’m understanding you correctly, what you’re saying is [x],” and “I can imagine that would be difficult because of [x].” This shows you’re committed to approaching the conversation with empathy.
  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues — Notice your direct report’s tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. Nonverbal cues can provide valuable context and help you better understand the speaker's message.

Coach team members effectively with these follow-up best practices

Ensure coaching isn’t a one-and-done situation

Managers need to be consistent about coaching a team to do it effectively, which is why it’s vital for team leads to spend time reflecting on their own improvement regularly. Create a weekly check-in with questions to set yourself up for coaching success:

  • How will you coach your team members this week?
  • What coaching experience has had a positive impact on your team recently?
  • Which team members need a bit more motivation this week?

Run a pulse survey to ensure you’re meeting employee expectations

If you are new to coaching a team, running a quick pulse survey with your team can help you understand how to be a better leader.

In your survey, you can ask one or two open-ended questions like:

  • How often do you receive coaching from me?
  • How would you rate my coaching skills on a 0–10 scale?
  • Can you share a time when my coaching positively or negatively impacted your work?
  • Does my coaching align with your current professional goals?
  • Do you enjoy the group/individual coaching you receive from me?
  • What coaching experience has been your favorite?
  • What can I do to help you through your issues at work? How can I be a better mentor?

Leapsome can help support your team with the right tools

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Use statistics and insights to make meetings more productive with Leapsome’s free Meetings solution 

The best manager-coaches take their leadership roles seriously, supporting their direct reports in their day-to-day work and helping them advance in their careers. When people in managerial positions are intentional about building their team coaching skills alongside their role-based competencies, they’re more likely to produce capable reports who make the manager’s job — and everyone’s job — easier.

Still, in the high-speed world of work, managers need the right tools to keep communication loops active and minimize teamwork issues.

As a holistic people enablement platform, Leapsome helps lighten the managerial load and improves team collaboration. Use the free Leapsome Meetings tool to collaborate on team agendas, take notes, and save action items and reminders for the future. Then, take advantage of Reviews, Goals, and Competency Frameworks to create an effective, data-centric process for employee development and growth.

Take a product tour to see how all of our features work together to optimize the coaching experience. Then see how our own global head of customer success Anja Schauer uses Leapsome to make a bigger impact in managing her team.👇

🤝 Make the team coaching experience more collaborative
Leapsome Meetings allows managers and direct reports collaborate on agendas and stay aligned on action items for development — for free.
👉 Improve your coaching with our free tool 
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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should managers coach their teams?

Today’s managers should coach their teams because employee development is essential to their role, and highly competent teams tend to improve the work experience for everyone. 

The manager’s job isn’t just about ensuring that team members fulfill their daily responsibilities and follow company policies. It’s also about helping them grow as professionals and live out company values so they can advance within the organization and achieve their career goals. 

How do you coach a demotivated employee?

Getting someone to enjoy their work can be one of the most challenging tasks for a manager.

First, determine if that person’s demotivation is a fixable issue. Would streamlining their job help bring the excitement back? Are they dealing with a personal issue that’s bleeding into their work? Or is it a structural problem that you can raise with company management and push for improvement? Understanding what is demotivating them can help you build a plan to address the issue.

After you’ve done the clarity work, help your report get their motivation back. Try some ideas like:

  • Delegating a task to a freelancer or someone else on the team to reduce the workload
  • Investing in a project that excites them, as long as it meshes with company goals
  • Revisiting their professional development plan to see if it aligns with their current goals.

What qualities make an effective coach?

Many qualities make an effective coach at work. While being a great coach does require some innate talent, there are a few qualities you can hone over your time as a people ops leader:

  • Active listening
  • Empathy
  • Focusing on goals
  • Positivity
  • Respectfulness
  • Supportiveness

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