Learning & Development

Key Traits of Effective Workplace Coaches

In an article for Entrepreneur, Chris Haddon and Jason Balin note that many of us have coaches, mentors, or tutors growing up. Whether we play sports, play an instrument, take an in-depth dive into a specific academic field or just need some additional assistance with schoolwork, we often have someone taking a dedicated and focused approach to helping us succeed. However, as we move into the workforce, most of us don’t have that type of person providing the same kind of support. But there’s no reason that has to be the case.

“Working one-on-one will push you to do things you likely would never do on your own. A coach can help you write and break down your goals and get into the right mindset. A coach can also push you to think outside the box and take your aspirations to the next level—on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly schedule. Knowing both where you want to be in 10 years and what you have to do today are key to reaching success.”
Any one employee can be a potential coach. Typically, it’s a senior staff member or someone with a longer tenure with the organization. But there are some key traits of coaches that help certain people truly excel in this mentorship role. We picked out six to focus on in particular:

1. Interest 

It’s generally not effective to impose a coaching responsibility on the intended coach. The coach should have a genuine interest in helping develop another employee. If that interest isn’t there, it will likely be apparent to the coached employee, and the relationship will be doomed from the outset.

2. Knowledge and Experience

 This almost goes without saying, but it’s worth stating because it’s so essential. Even the best natural coach can’t be expected to mentor another employee on something the coach knows nothing about or has little experience in. In order for the relationship to be worthwhile, the coach absolutely must have some value to share.

3. Availability

Often the best potential coaches are in key positions in the organization. Their knowledge, experience, and skills have helped them rise to prominence within the organization. While that certainly gives such employees valuable knowledge and experience to impart, it doesn’t necessarily leave them with much time to impart it. Coaching can’t be a once-in-a-while chat. It needs to be consistent and dedicated.

4. Emotional Intelligence

In this context, when we talk about emotional intelligence, we’re really talking about the ability to effectively evaluate an employee’s strengths and weaknesses relative to the essential duties of the job. A good workplace coach will be able to see where an employee needs improvement and where the employee has potential to capitalize on existing proficiencies 

5. Effective Communication

Especially when dealing with adults in a workplace setting, being “coached” can be a sensitive prospect. Most people don’t necessarily like feeling criticized, and this can lead to resentment toward the coach and anxiety in terms of job security. It’s important to communicate effectively with the coached employee to convey the necessary feedback without sending the wrong message. 

6. Trustworthy

There are many aspects of a workplace coaching relationship that require a great deal of trust. For one, coaches and the coached employees will be discussing a lot of information in confidence, particularly regarding the coached employee’s professional ambitions, skill set, and weaknesses. Secondly, for the coached employee to truly engage with the coach, the employee must trust that the coach has his or her best interests at heart and is committed to his or her success.
Those of us who had coaches in our younger years generally benefited from the personalized attention and shared goal of success that the relationship carried with it. Why not bring the same to the workplace?

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