LOGO for Workforce Enhancement Program  / Coaching, Evaluating and Delivering Constructive Feedback – Learning Series We are pleased to bring you “Making Time for Coaching.” This topic is the third in a series of communications that discuss the value coaching brings to your management practice and team leadership. The content presented in this topic will address the importance of coaching, and will examine ways to make time for coaching.

To reference previous topics, please click on the Coaching Series Home link located in the Quick Links section of this web page. 

Thanks for all you do.

Overview: Making Time for Coaching

Making time for coaching is a worthwhile investment for Commonwealth managers and supervisors.  This topic will provide you with simple time management strategies to include coaching in your regular communication rhythm with your staff.

Coaching is a process that requires an investment of time that goes beyond the annual performance evaluation process.  Making the time to coach your employees can be a challenge when added on top of a busy workload.

It may help to think of coaching as one of the key qualities of a leader, rather than another task that needs doing.  Coaching doesn’t always have to be a long drawn out process where you sit down with the employee behind closed doors and coach. There are times when coaching should be a sit down meeting, but on-the-fly or informal coaching is often more effective and can be done more frequently.  It doesn’t take much time once it’s a priority and you challenge your comfort zone.

Remember that management is more than just getting employees to complete assigned tasks.  A significant portion of your position entails being a coach and leader.  Your goal is to recognize potential, motivate people to perform, leverage individual and team strengths, and identify and develop areas for improvement.

Here is an example demonstrating the benefits of informal coaching sessions.

Angela’s workday includes many meetings both on and off-site.  She finds it difficult to connect with her staff members routinely therefore she has resorted to holding staff meetings in a conference call setting.  Angela is also facilitating coaching sessions with two of her staff.  Over-the-phone coaching sessions are often rescheduled or cancelled.  Frustrated with her lack of time to interact with her staff, Angela seeks advice from her HR office.  Angela learns from her HR representative that it is OK to invite an employee to go for a cup of coffee or have lunch.  If the employee accepts the offer, this relaxed time provides a terrific opportunity to engage in coaching discussions.  Angela is happy to find out that it is acceptable to hold coaching sessions in a more casual environment.


Benefits of Making Time for Coaching

The benefits of effective career and performance development are outlined below:

  • Coaching is motivating: When an employee recognizes that a manager or supervisor is investing time in him or her, often the employee is more inspired to contribute
  • Coaching improves performance: As individual employees are developed into higher performing teams, they can be trusted with more responsibility and greater growth opportunities
  • Coaching keeps the communication lines open: As coaching conversations become a habit, there can be fewer “event-based” conversations and more direct focus on expectations and outcomes
  • Coaching may save you time in the long run: The initial investment in time for coaching upfront may mean other aspects of your job may become less time consuming later as you reap the rewards


Keys to Making Time for Coaching 

Start by focusing on positive reinforcement: Get out of your office and observe your employees, maybe once a day or once a week depending on your team.  Look for things that are on-target in their performance.  Focus on the behaviors you observed and the impact of those behaviors.  Employees learn from the things they do well and when you take the time to point out the positive they will repeat these behaviors.

Ask your employees questions: Find out what their greatest challenges are.  Ask what motivates them.  Ask questions related to your organization’s mission, vision and core values.  By asking questions, you are engaging in a conversation about performance in a non-threatening manner.  Engage your team in these conversations as appropriate, but remember developmental feedback is best delivered and received one-on-one.

Take advantage of your everyday interactions: Whenever an employee comes into the office with a problem or a decision than needs your attention, take the opportunity to coach them.  Before long you can work through your discomfort, and see the positive results of coaching.  Also, consider timing and be aware that giving developmental feedback at the start of the day could impact productivity throughout that day.


Next Steps

Coming Next: Effective Career and Performance Development addresses the formal performance management process and your role as a manager/supervisor/supervisor in helping your employees get the most from the experience.