1. Get a deep understanding of your reports and their career goals
Before you begin coaching your reports, you have to know where they want to go. Coaching is a deeply personal experience for everyone involved. If you don’t start this journey knowing your report’s professional goals, you can negatively impact their career and well-being by offering biased guidance.
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 2–3 years?
- Are there any big goals you’d like to accomplish? How can I support you in getting 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?
Making time for deeper conversations will help you get to know your reports better. These are the conversations that help you connect with your people and align their goals with your organization.
2. Build out learning and development plans in your weekly 1:1s
If you have followed career best practices, you have likely spent time building out an informative career progression framework for your employees. Take some time to go over these frameworks consistently and use 1:1 meetings time to help solidify your employee’s progression goals. 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 and trying to get to the following week, but make sure to put energy into forward-thinking activities like figuring out the right classes for your report to take and books they could read.
You can also advocate for leadership to make a development budget available to all employees — after all, the more people learn, the more organizations grow.
3. Create coaching experiences for your team
Now that you know exactly where your team wants to go and you have a plan to help them get there, you can create coaching experiences that prepare your team to reach their goals.
One of the most obvious coaching experiences happens during weekly 1:1s. These are often the most consistent face time you will get with your team. Other meetings pop up as needed, but 1:1 meetings should be non-negotiable.
Another experience worth exploring is group coaching — which is also a fantastic team-building opportunity, especially if you are remote and unable to see each other in the office.
Here are some helpful group coaching ideas to get you started:
- Weekly brainstorming sessions where one employee shares issues they are having and the team brainstorms solutions as a group;
- Coworking sessions where employees come together, work, and discuss issues they are having in real time;
- Sending out coaching emails/text messages to your team members based on conversations you’ve had with them. You can include insights, 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 moments to let your team learn/make mistakes
It’s hard not to feel personally responsible for a team failure as a manager. Making mistakes is an integral part of learning, and team members can’t get the most out of their experience without it.
When a mistake or failure happens, you must pause before deciding how to proceed. Does your report need you to jump in and steer the ship right away? Or is there something else you can do to be a better leader/coach for them?
If this failure will cost the company thousands of dollars, it is definitely in your best interest to step in and reduce the impact. Most failures aren’t that catastrophic, though. It’s important to know when to let employees experiment and support them in learning from it.
Employees must have the space to make mistakes, especially when working towards innovation and improvements. And it’s just as crucial that they’re encouraged to reflect on failures, so they can make better decisions in the future.
As a manager, you can coach your employees and help them through each of these steps without stepping in.
5. Ask the right questions
Active listening and asking will take you far as a manager.
As you coach your team through issues and celebrate successes, cutting through the noise and understanding each person will be pivotal.
First, you want to make sure that you keep tabs on your people and check in regularly. For example, you can build time into your weekly 1:1 to check in with each person. Ask about their life, the projects they are working on, and where they might need your support this week.
If you get a short answer like “I’m doing fine,” dig in. Some of your reports might have problems expressing their feelings, and that’s where great managers can have a tremendous impact. But of course, also be mindful and respectful of their boundaries.
Outside of general weekly check-ins, you’ll want to ask the right questions through every part of your work with a team member. Ensure that your questions come from a genuine, curious place so that you can take your employees to higher levels with questions that encourage them to make better decisions.
Follow-up best practices for coaching your team
Ensure coaching isn’t a one-and-done situation
Coaching needs to be consistent to be effective. Once you decide to incorporate it into your management style, make sure you do it consistently. Create a weekly check-in to set yourself up for coaching success:
- How will you coach your team members this week?
- What coaching experience had a positive impact on your team recently?
- Which team members need a bit more motivation this week?
With the right coaching cadence, you can create an experience that impacts your company.
Run a pulse survey to ensure you are meeting employee expectations
If you are new to coaching, running a quick pulse survey with your team can help you understand how to be a better leader.
You can ask 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 better help you through your issues at work? How can I be a better mentor?
— Make sure your managers also get the support they deserve and need! Besides encouraging all leaders to coach their teams, make sure to share resources with them. As a starter, we recommend our playbooks on running 1:1 meetings, avoiding unconscious bias in performance reviews, and having career development talks. 😉