How To Be a Better Coach to Your Work Team

How To Be a Better Coach to Your Work Team

How to be a better coach to your team at work

Leaders are increasingly asked to manage their teams less and coach and mentor them more. Why? Because research proves that coaching improves employees’ engagement and develops critical thinking skills. Without it, people stop taking initiative and wait for orders.

So what’s the difference between coaching and managing?


Managing typically leans heavily on transferring knowledge and using one’s authority to make people take action. Coaching is the act of enhancing another person’s knowledge.

As a leader, you’ve likely been asked your opinion on how to approach a particular situation. For example, your team member, Mark, may come to you about a challenge he’s having with Mary in IT. If you lead from a manager’s point of view, you would instruct Mark on how he should handle the situation.

A coach in a similar situation would pause and seek to understand Mark’s thoughts and feelings first. Then the coach would ask questions to gain a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding Mark and Mary’s interactions. Instead of giving instructions, the coach would lead Mark to explain an approach to the situation at hand. The coach may ask even more questions to uncover potential blind spots and gaps in his knowledge. If necessary, the coach will offer best practices and lessons learned.

Coaching does take more time than directing, but your employee will experience professional growth, and you and your organization will greatly reap the benefits.


I’ve discovered over time that most people know how to handle different situations. They don’t want to be told what to do.

When a team member seeks help from a boss, they are often seeking confirmation and affirmation that their approach is the most effective approach.

The next time you feel the urge to jump in and solve a problem for an employee, do the following:

  • Pause and listen.
  • Ask questions to understand their point of view.
  • Ask questions to uncover blind spots or knowledge gaps.
  • Encourage them to share their point of view or approach first before sharing your insights.

Coaching Phrases I Recommend:

  • “Say more.”
  • “I can give you my perspective, but I want to know what you think first.”
  • “Before I share best practices, share your approach. I want to know more.”
  • “Have you thought about XYZ or ABC?”
  • “How can I best serve/help you in this situation?”
  • “I value your point of view. Thank you for sharing it with me.”

If you find yourself slipping back into giving the answers away, that’s ok. Keep practicing, and it will soon become natural to you.

The value of coaching others isn’t just beneficial for your employee, it’s also what it does for your entire team and organization – improved engagement and speed of development and growth.

Your turn: What action(s) will you implement this week to refine how you coach others at work? Is there an upcoming situation you can use to coach?

Send me an email with your results or any questions you may have about this process. I look forward to hearing from you.