Staff coaching

Written by Katherine Nicholls
Katherine Nicholls
Life Coach Directory Content Team

Last updated 27th March 2024 | Next update due 27th March 2027

Employees are at the heart of any business. Whether you have one employee or 100, getting them on the same page, connected to the business values and dedicated to a shared goal should be a priority. 

Here we look at how staff coaching can be used to help employees grow personally and professionally, deciding whether or not coaching is the right approach for your business and the difference between coaching and mentoring. 

What is staff coaching?

Coaching aims to help someone make a change and/or achieve a certain goal. This is done using conversation techniques like questioning, listening and reframing. The conversation is usually geared towards helping the coachee uncover the answers themselves (rather than the coach telling the coachee what to do). 

Coaching can be used in various areas, including health and fitness, personal development and of course, career and business. Staff coaching is when a coach helps an employee learn or enhance certain skills, often working towards a set goal. This approach may be used to teach an employee a new skill, improve their performance in a certain area or build on interpersonal, confidence or organisation skills. 

At the start of the coaching relationship, a goal will often be set by the employee, usually with the support of their manager. Working together, the employee and coach will meet for regular sessions in-person or remotely, to create an action plan for achieving the goal. Coaches provide support and accountability, providing a clear framework to work within. As employees implement their learnings at work, they often make fast progress.

While staff coaching is typically carried out with career and business progression in mind, the skills learnt can often overspill into other areas. 

Is coaching the right approach for my business?

Understanding the benefits of staff coaching is a good starting point for both you and your employees to help decide if it’s right for you. Here are some key benefits staff coaching can offer:

Improve communication skills, conflict management and relationship cultivation

Communication is essential for any business, both within the company and externally. If you’ve found communication, conflict or relationship-building to be a problem for your staff, coaching could help them build skills in this area. There may be one employee in particular who would benefit from this support or you may want to explore group coaching.

Increase organisational and time management skills

Being organised doesn’t come naturally to us all. Learning new techniques and finding a way to organise work can be helpful for employees struggling with this aspect of their roles. If the employee has dyslexia, for example, and this is impacting their work, you may want to consider hiring a dyslexia coach who will be aware of their needs. 

Encourage existing talents

It can be easy to focus on skills people don’t have, but there’s also a place for nurturing existing talents. This can stop employees from getting complacent, help them hone their craft and fulfil their true potential.

Build self-confidence

Self-doubt can hold many people back. It’s something we all encounter from time to time and if you think a lack of confidence is stopping your employee from progressing, a coach can help. Coaching can help employees see their capabilities and overcome fear by encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zones and gradually gain confidence.

Improve presentation and public speaking skills

Some roles require presentation and public speaking skills. These come with experience, but if you want an employee to be supported and accelerate their learning, you may want to hire a coach with this expertise. By uncovering the obstacles getting in the way of the employee and helping them manage their fear, a coach can support them to practice more and feel confident when presenting. 

Inspire new ways of thinking and boost creativity

It can be easy to get stuck in a rut at work, especially if employees have been with the company a long time and tend to do what’s always been done. Hiring a coach can help employees think in new and different ways, sharing techniques to inspire creativity and original thinking. 

Support with managing workload, setting boundaries and avoiding burnout

Workplace stress and burnout are big concerns in a range of industries. There are steps you can take as a company to support your team, but you may find some employees benefit from more focused attention through coaching. A coach who supports in this area can help employees set and manage expectations, create healthy boundaries and improve work-life balance. 

Offer a safe, judgment-free space to learn and self-reflect

Work can be incredibly fast-paced, with never-ending to-do lists and missed lunch breaks. Coaching can offer employees the dedicated space and time to pause, reflect and learn. Sessions can be used to discuss issues that have arisen and ways they can navigate these issues moving forward. 

Giving workplace champions coaching skills enhances workplace conversation and creates a learning environment. All these aspects of development can result in a workforce plan and a multi-skilled workforce ensuring that the experience of long-serving staff is retained within the company.

- Coach Hazel Rowell-Peverley in 'Coaching and mentoring in the workplace'.

These are just some examples to consider. Ensuring your employee resonates with and trusts their coach is important too. If your employees understand and are excited about coaching, rather than feeling like they're just checking a box to get a promotion, the outcome is likely to be more positive. 

Whilst many employees appreciate and value the support of a coach, it’s important to note that it’s not the right approach for everyone. If the idea of staff coaching doesn’t feel right, there are other avenues to explore, such as external training, online learning, or mentoring, which may feel like a better fit for your business.

What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?

The aim of coaching and mentoring is largely the same - to help someone make a change and achieve a goal. The process itself is also similar, using conversation, questioning and listening techniques while offering accountability and support. 

The key difference is who is offering this service. Coaches are specifically trained, often work predominantly as a coach and will therefore be external to the business. Mentoring relationships at work tend to involve a more senior member of staff within the business who will work with someone less experienced. 

Mentors will use their knowledge and understanding of the business to help the mentee develop the skills necessary to progress in the company. Some mentors will have undertaken coaching training, but often it is a less formal arrangement.

If you believe an employee could benefit from either coaching or mentoring, consider what outcomes you’d like them to achieve and the level of support needed. Those who would benefit from a more structured approach with support from someone external may be better suited to working with a coach, while those who need less support and more guidance from someone with company insights may prefer to work with a mentor.

You can also ask your employee which approach they believe would suit them best. Some people like the familiarity of working with someone within the company, while others enjoy the distance coaching can provide. 

Mentoring can often include elements of coaching and vice versa. Both relationships are built on openness and trust. Both offer a thought partner, someone to bounce ideas around with. Both can provide objectivity and offer new perspectives on a situation. Both require skills in listening and questioning. Both involve challenging your thinking and may involve constructive feedback.

- Coach Tessa Dodwell in 'Do I need a coach, mentor or both?'

If you’re ready to take the next step and search for a staff coach to support your employees, use our tool to find a coach near you

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