Employees who lack proper leadership and team cohesion tend to falter when it comes to achieving team or organizational objectives of any kind. In contrast, when employees understand what is expected of them, the goals they’re trying to meet, and how they contribute to the team’s success, companies are better positioned to build customer loyalty, outshine the competition, and boost the bottom line.
Building your management repertoire through the 10 effective coaching strategies described below will help you better support your employees and become a more-effective manager for your team members.
1) Know Your Employees
To be a great manager, you must really know your team. Make a concerted effort to get to know each of your employees on a deeper level. Learn about each person’s strengths and weaknesses; what they excel at and what challenges them; what motivates them and what they find discouraging. Along with formal personality testing, consider having each of your team members complete regular self-evaluations and use the results to ensure you are utilizing each employee in the most effective way possible.
2) Foster Transparency
Being transparent with your employees helps to build trust, form relationships, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. By starting with transparency at the top, you help to foster a company culture of open communication. Encourage transparency within your team by asking yourself these key questions:
- “How frequently do I open myself up to others and allow them to get to know me?”
- “Have I clearly explained my values and motivations to my team members?”
- “Am I clear and consistent in the way I make choices and decisions?”
- “Do I tell team members when I make a mistake or discover a fault in my own knowledge base?”
Like most things in a leadership role, you can’t expect your team members to do anything you wouldn’t do. Lead by example.
3) Collaboration is Key
Humans are generally competitive by nature. As such, competing within an office setting is often second nature. However, by discouraging unhealthy competition and encouraging collaboration and recognition of group achievements rather than individual success, you’ll be able to foster a culture that not only thrives as a team but one that also inspires members to rely on one another.
4) Create Clear Objectives and Goals
Clearly defining objectives and goals is virtually impossible without strategic planning. After gathering your team, start with big-picture thinking and encourage members to discuss and brainstorm ways to meet your longer-term goals. This is a good time to draw from individual strengths and ask for the team’s dedication, commitment, and creativity. Once the larger goals are identified, develop a timeline that includes milestones and benchmarks to keep everyone accountable and help you gauge your team’s cohesion, progress, and accomplishments.
5) Celebrate Success
Celebrating milestones and benchmark goals is one of the best ways to keep your team on track, motivated, and inspired. Along with commemorating these achievements, make an effort to celebrate the individual successes of your team members as well as those of the group. Highlighting everything from work anniversaries and personal achievements to professional gains and employee wins is a powerful tool for supporting individual and team motivation and morale.
6) Build Mutual Trust
At the root of all effective coaching relationships lies a foundation of balanced trust. While things like fostering transparency can help to establish this trust, you may also want to have an open-door policy; be clear, friendly, and non-judgmental in each coaching meeting; and make an effort to show your employees that you care about them, consider them to be valuable members of the team, and have a keen interest in them and their success.
7) Pave the Way for Success
You can’t expect your team to operate effectively without laying the groundwork for them to do so. Therefore, it’s critical for your team to have access to training, software, resources, strategies, materials, and anything else they might need to be successful in their roles—and if something is lacking, fill the gap as quickly as you can.
8) Share Constructive Feedback
As one of the most critical aspects of employee coaching, feedback has the power to make or break the success of the team. What have your employees done well? What strategies haven’t worked? What needs improvement? Giving (and receiving) constructive feedback can be tricky. Remember to craft your message carefully, work to refine your feedback skills over time, and be open to feedback from others (see #9).
9) Ask for Feedback
The best and most effective coaches are coachable. During meetings and one-on-one sessions with employees, ask for ways you can improve in your role as coach to help your employees reach the performance and behavioral goals you’ve set together. During the discussion, keep an open mind, remain flexible, and maintain perspective.
10) Manage Inter-Team Disputes
Despite your efforts to build a unified, communicative team, there will inevitably be conflicts among your team members. Whether it’s an issue of certain employees not pulling their weight or a case of minor office bullying, it’s your responsibility to keep an eye out for interpersonal upheaval within your team. Make an effort to fully understand these issues, and then implement a procedure for dealing with and avoiding these kinds of problems in the future.
To ensure that you’re using all of your resources to best manage your team, consider developing a “toolkit” for employee-coaching strategies. Not only will this act as a quick, go-to reference in times of need, it will also be a valuable asset you can continue to build as you gain additional experience in leadership and management. As you develop more-effective coaching techniques, continue to ask yourself, “What kind of strategies can I think of to help improve my coaching skills?” If you remain committed to continuous improvement, you’ll only get better over time.