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  • Reda Othman

Coaching Employees to Improve Performance

In the modern workplace, the role of a leader transcends beyond mere supervision to becoming a catalyst for employee growth and team success. Scholars note the role of coaching to improve employee performance. Here we answer the “How” to coach employee including a real life situations. Let's explore how these strategies can be implemented to not only enhance individual capabilities but also to drive collective achievement.

1. Reconciling Intent and Impact

Frankovelgia (2022) notes that one of the core components of effective coaching is the ability to reconcile an employee's intent with the impact of their actions. This strategy is about understanding the difference between what an employee aimed to achieve and the actual outcome of their efforts. 

Strategy in Action:

  • Ask Powerful Questions: Begin by asking employees about the impact they intended to have with their actions. This opens a dialogue that encourages self-reflection and critical thinking. 

  • Maintain a 4:1 Question to Suggestion Ratio: To dive deeper and uncover valuable insights, adopt a questioning approach. For every suggestion or comment, ask four thought-provoking questions using how, what, or tell me more. This method ensures that coaches don't overlook any insights the employee might have, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of their actions and motivations.


Consider an employee who led a project that didn't meet its objectives. A coaching conversation might explore what the employee hoped to achieve, how they approached the project, and where discrepancies arose between their intentions and the project's outcomes. Through guided questioning, the employee can reflect on alternative strategies, potentially uncovering new paths to better perform in the future. 

2. Selecting the Right Tasks

Hallowell (2022) indicates that the essence of coaching lies in matching employees with tasks that align with their skillset and aspirations. This alignment not only maximizes the likelihood of task success but also contributes to the employee's growth and satisfaction. Identifying the right tasks requires a deep understanding of an individual's skills, something that is best achieved through direct conversations.

Strategy in Action:

  • Identify Skills and Interests: Engage in one-on-one discussions to discover the employee's skills, interests, and career aspirations. This personalized approach resonates with the adult learning theory of relevance, making tasks more meaningful to the employee.

  • Connect the Task with Individuals who have the skillset: Once you have a clear understanding of an employee's strengths and interests, you can more effectively assign tasks that are both challenging and achievable, thereby maximizing engagement and productivity.


Imagine an employee with a hidden talent for graphic design. By assigning them to lead the visual aspects of a marketing campaign or creating a presentation for a school event, you not only utilize their skills effectively but also provide an opportunity for professional development and recognition within the team.

3. Earning Employee Trust

Lencioni (2005) highlights building trust as a foundational element in overcoming team dysfunctions. Trust is particularly crucial in a coaching relationship, where open and honest communication forms the basis of effective development (Dougherty, 2022)

Strategy in Action:

  • Build Trust through Engagement: Show genuine interest in employees' perspectives by asking thoughtful questions. This approach demonstrates respect for their views and reinforces their value to the team.

  • Trust as a Two-way Street: Trust building is reciprocal. By being open and vulnerable yourself, you set a precedent for honesty and integrity within the team.


Asking an employee, "If you were in my position, what's the first change you would implement?" or "In your view, how could we enhance our approach to project X?" These inquiries not only signal that you respect and are curious about their opinions but also reinforce their sense of belonging and significance in the team.


By focusing on reconciling intent and impact, selecting the right tasks, and building trust, leaders can unlock the full potential of their employees, leading to improved performance and more cohesive teams. In this dynamic journey of growth, both leaders and employees can find greater fulfillment and success.


Lencioni, P. (2005). Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A field guide for leaders, managers, and facilitators.

HBR guide to coaching employee. (2022). Boston, Mass. :Harvard Business Review Press,

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