Coaching Techniques

6 Coaching Techniques You Can Use At Work

Ready to up your game at work? Use these six coaching techniques to enhance your leadership skills, increase employee morale, and optimize team performance.

Not everyone who gets certified as a life coach chooses to work one-on-one with clients in a private practice. In fact, many people who sign on for coach training do so simply to become better managers and leaders in their existing careers. 

The tools aspiring coaches learn in ICF accredited programs like Lumia's Life Coach Training have incredibly broad applications. From executive directors to corporate human resource professionals, anyone who works with people can benefit from understanding the science behind what helps human beings flourish. 

What does it mean to be a coach? 

At its core, coaching is a partnership that inspires and motivates someone to move toward becoming the best possible version of themselves. How many bosses have you met that take a similar “partnership” approach to managing their staff? Can you imagine what our workplaces would look like if more of them did?

If you're managing individuals or teams, consider adding a coaching framework to your leadership toolbox. You don't need an advanced degree to put some of these tools into practice! Of all the coaching techniques that we offer our students, we’ve narrowed it down to a handful that we believe translate particularly well for managers on the job.

Reflect on Wins

Many coaches ask their clients to complete a brief “pre-session form” before every appointment to help bring focus to the conversation. It typically includes a question that invites the client to name their accomplishments or “wins” from the previous week.

This technique is a powerful way to focus on what’s going well before diving into what the client has yet to work on. It’s also a great tool for work teams. 

As a manager, this practice is easy to implement. If you have a weekly staff meeting, you can open with a round robin share where everyone is invited to speak briefly about a recent win. Large or small, doesn’t matter.

Doing this with regularity creates a culture of celebration. When your team recognizes one another for what’s going well, it reinforces that individual efforts add up. Everyone's contribution matters.

Most managers focus by necessity on what’s ahead - the goals, deadlines, and assignments that have yet to be completed by the team. But we don’t always set aside time to appreciate what’s been accomplished. This doesn’t need to be lengthy - wins can take just 5 minutes or less out of an hour-long staff meeting. 

If you want to really step it up, consider creating a culture where people notice and name one another’s wins. One manager we know places a box of granola bars in the center of the table at every staff meeting. Staff know that anyone can grab a bar and toss it to a colleague that they’d like to recognize for an accomplishment at any time.

Be creative, have fun, and choose a practice that complements the culture and personality of your team.

Make Team Plans Visual

We exist in a digital world, but there’s something about writing things down that engages a different part of the brain. Putting pen to paper is something many coaches ask their clients to do. Why? Because the act of viscerally mapping out where you want to go and how you plan to get there is a critical first step in achieving most any goal. This is particularly true when it comes to orchestrating the efforts of a group. 

Picture this: a massive whiteboard or planning calendar on the wall in your office (or virtual whiteboard on Zoom) that becomes a hub for creative thinking and collaboration. 

Writing things out allows us to see what we might be missing. It shows us the gaps in our thinking and planning. It’s a different process than sitting independently at our computers, typing up individual ideas into an email, text, or Slack message.

Whether it’s laying out a communications strategy on a wall calendar, or doing a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis on a whiteboard, involving your team in brainstorming and visually planning together offers an opportunity for all voices to be heard, and creative new ideas to emerge. 

Provide A Roadmap

When it comes to planning it’s important to not only generate ideas, but to also spell things out clearly. Good management means giving people a roadmap. Everyone needs to know the destination, and the route you'll be taking to get there.

If you’re not familiar with SMART planning, it’s time for a quick rundown. A SMART goal is one that's Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. This term is common enough in both management and coaching circles, but it’s one that people nevertheless often shrug off in practice.

Too many managers make the mistake of thinking that what the team needs to be working on is “obvious”. Trust us: it may not be to every member of your group! If you want to avoid dead-ends, wrong turns, and stall-outs, take the time to create a roadmap with your team. One everyone understands, and has agreed to.  

Anchor in Core Values

A critical concept that we teach our coaching students is the value of “knowing your why”. Whether you’re an individual or a business, it’s helpful to get grounded in your reason for being. Not what you produce, or how you produce it… but why. If you’re not familiar with this concept, check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”  

As a manager, you can help your team gel around shared goals by getting clear about the “why”. Defining core values together can serve as an anchor that keeps you and your team motivated, dedicated, and deeply rooted in the value of your collective work.

Understanding and living from team values also helps you make strategic decisions as a group, resolve differences of opinion, and align behind the best path forward.

Get Clear About Fear

Did you know that 95% of our brain activity is unconscious? There’s a lot at work below the level of our waking thoughts! As a consequence, we’re never fully aware of the subconscious forces that may actually be driving us.

Below our striving, what’s often motivating many people is fear. Fear of failure, loss, or embarrassment. These common fears can stifle creativity, and prevent us from taking necessary risks. It can also shut down communication, and even eventually kill a business if left unchecked. 

When it comes to effective leadership, it can be useful to regularly perform a fear and clarity assessment. This is something many coaches do with their clients as a way of pinpointing where they're getting stuck.

How can you do this with a team? It begins by creating enough trust that people feel safe sharing their concerns. In order to address fear, it first needs to be on the table where we all can see it. The simple act of naming and knowing these fears helps to take away some of their power.

Once you’re there, you can inventory what people are truly worried about and run worst case scenarios. Having an idea of what the team would do if that Big Bad Thing actually came to pass offers people a measure of control, and a sense of agency.

Next, you can creatively explore what might happen in the best case scenario. What's possible if you DO take the risk? What are the potential rewards? 

Taking an objective look at both risks and rewards can help your team come to well considered conclusions. Decisions that are made together, with all concerns outlined and addressed, are more likely to be supported.

Practice Gratitude and Appreciation

This one might feel cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less valid! Acknowledging people and showing them you appreciate their efforts is one management strategy that never goes out of style.

Think back to your best boss ever. What made them stand out? For most people, the answer usually boils down to the way memorable leaders make them feel.

There are leaders who lean on their positional authority to get things done. Command and control works, but it often comes at a high price. There isn’t usually a lot of creativity, trust, or satisfaction on teams where orders are given, with corresponding punishments dealt out for not meeting them.

Leaders who recognize and appreciate the individuals on their team are more likely to inspire loyalty, cultivate higher morale, and experience less staff turnover.

Truth is, this practice often gets lost in a pile of good intentions. Oftentimes at work we’re operating at such a rapid pace that we simply forget to acknowledge the people around us. We’re all so busy checking tasks off our lists.

But what if you could do it differently? What if an important personal measure of your own success had to do with how you made people feel?

Cultivating gratitude is a personal practice, and one that can completely change our outlook over time. It’s powerful, which is why so many coaches use it with their clients. 

As a manager, there are ways you can weave gratitude into how you show up as a leader. It might look like sending an email of appreciation after a job well done, and copying higher-ups when you commend your staff. It could be publicly recognizing the efforts of team members and sharing credit for accomplishments. It may include leaving your employee a gift certificate to a favorite coffee shop along with a note of thanks, or rewarding the team with a day off after the completion of a big project. 

Eager to Grow Your Skills as A Leader?

People enroll in Lumia's life coach training program for a variety of reasons. Many come with the clear intention to build a career in coaching. But not all plan to “go pro”. Others want to apply these skills to roles they may already be playing - as advisors, human resource specialists, therapists, personal trainers, and career mentors. 

Whatever your motivation, our curriculum can help get you where you want to go. What we learn here ultimately helps us to become better bosses, friends, parents, coworkers, and community members. If you're ready to learn more about coach certification programs, come check us out!

Lumia Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.

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