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Conducting Effective Coaching Conversations


Most employees want to develop in their careers and their organizations want to support their growth. One powerful tool is effective coaching by managers to contribute to consistent learning and improvement. Effective coaching conversations can inspire change, foster collaboration and drive performance improvement.

Here are five essential steps to conducting these conversations successfully:

1. Prepare: Before engaging in a coaching conversation, take the time to prepare thoroughly. Outline your talking points with clear examples and practice articulating them. Plan the conversation for when the employee will be receptive to feedback, but timely to the situation being coached. Choose an appropriate time and place for the discussion, ensuring it’s conducive to open dialogue. Anticipate potential reactions from the employee and plan how you will respond.

2. Establish Rapport: Begin the conversation by establishing rapport with the employee. Open-ended questions about their well-being and current mood can set the tone for a supportive environment. Actively listen and demonstrate genuine interest in the employee’s perspective. If the employee seems stressed or rushed, consider postponing the conversation to a more suitable time.

3. Provide Constructive Feedback: Once rapport is established, offer specific and actionable feedback based on relevant examples. Utilize the “sandwich” approach: start with positives, address areas for improvement and end with encouragement. Give specific examples of behaviors and their impacts. Most importantly, allow the employee to respond, listen actively to generate a two-way conversation focused on finding solutions, and address any concerns they may have.

4. Collaborate on Solutions & Create an Action Plan: Encourage the employee to brainstorm ideas and strategies for improvement while offering support and guidance. Some employees may need time to reflect before proposing solutions, so schedule a follow-up discussion if necessary. Involve the employee in problem- solving and establish concrete steps and timelines for achieving goals.

5. Document & Follow Up: Document the action plan and steps agreed upon by both parties to ensure accountability and clarity. Send the plan in a follow-up email or store it where your team accesses project information. Refer to the plan to provide support, encouragement and accountability for the employee’s growth and development.

Coaching conversations, when conducted effectively, can lead to significant change and growth within your team. By following these steps, you can facilitate conversations that inspire growth, foster collaboration and drive performance improvement.

“Leaders who demonstrate a genuine interest in helping team members develop and grow through consistent and effective coaching develop strong, trusting and loyal relationships,” says Jessica Ricciardi, FCCS Human Resources Director.

Learn more from Jessica in this FCCS video on effective coaching techniques.

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