How coaching techniques improve productivity

Today, we live in a VUCAworld – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Businesses, leaders and managers in this environment are hit by a ‘double whammy’.  They need tomake sense of this world for themselves and they need to find ways of making sense of it for their employees to ensure they achieve results.

How coaching techniques improve productivity

How coaching techniques improve productivity

With all this going on, it’s understandable that many businesses feel they cannot spare the time for managers to attend courses due to greater workloads and less staff. However, it is now more important than ever for businesses to recognise how essential coaching is to the productivity of employees.

You may wonder how coaching improves the productivity of staff so we have provided a few reasons below.

Coaching produces empowered employees

Encouraging the development of coaching skills for managers, helps to improve productivity, morale and job satisfaction for themselves and their colleagues. Creating a positive morale within the workplace is vital for employee motivation. If employees feel they are in a happy working environment, they will be more likely to work harder and unnecessary absenteeism will decrease. Last minute sickness absence can be extremely disruptive to a manager’s working day. It forces a manager to deal with the operational issues of arranging necessary cover rather than focusing on the strategic objectives of the business.

Furthermore, coaching develops the art of listening. Whilst many people claim to be ‘good listeners’, this is often not the case. Listening to your employees is a vital component to their motivation. It is through listening that you can find out how each employee can be developed and improved. You will also find that by listening to your employees you will discover what changes are needed within your business. By gauging employees thoughts, it will help empower them as they will feel part of the decision making process. Also, by listening to your employees it encourages them to be open and honest about their feelings allowing you to address and solve any issues that may cause de-motivation. This will help to improve company loyalty resulting in a lower turnover of staff minimising unnecessary recruitment processes.

More effective time management

An empowered and engaged workforce will ultimately help reduce management time wastage. This is because an empowered workforce is a more confident one. Confident employees will be more likely to use their initiative and be assertive in making their own decisions thus making them less dependent on managers. The end result is improved performance and less stress resulting in more time for managers to spend on the ‘important’ things, as opposed to dealing with operational issues. Consequently, this will create successful individuals as well as successful teams, which is what every manager should strive to achieve.


Coaching also helps set out clear objectives and goals. It is very important that all employees understand what is expected of them and how they can improve. Management coaching will help managers ensure their meetings are effective in achieving company goals. This is often done by summarising and re-capping the main points that have been discussed during the meeting. Managers are encouraged to ask employees whether they have any questions to find out if they are unsure as to what is expected of them. This should result in less mistakes being made creating a more efficient workforce. Furthermore, when it comes to setting out goals for the company in such meetings, empowered employees will be much more committed to achieving a common goal for the business as they will feel more loyalty to the company.

Benefits of Developing a Coaching Culture:

Ultimately, a coaching culture within a workforce is essential to create the most effective and efficient employees. Whilst time does have to be spent attending courses, the benefits your company will reap as a result of such courses will far outweigh any down time for training.

This is confirmed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), in their 2009 survey which found that coaching was the most effective talent management activity used by organisations.

The benefits of facilitated space to think, explore and reflect are many and varied.

Using coaching techniques to become a better listener

Active listening is one of the most vital coaching techniques. As a coach/mentor you have to WANT to listen. Active listening means withholding judgement about what is being said. It is important to concentrate on receiving the message without attempting to react to it.

Using coaching techniques to become a better listener

Listening is the ultimate compliment, because if I listen to you – not just hear you – then I am doing you the favour of trying on your ideas. That is a very generous and complimentary thing to do.

Everyone has a deep-rooted need to feel listened to and understood. No one goes to work saying “I can’t wait to be misunderstood today!” Dispute resolution bodies (e.g. ACAS and Relate) state that in most cases a party to the dispute will, at some point, state the problem as –  “they don’t understand me!”

Trigger words can cause a kind of emotional deafness by involving us in the exercise of our own private thoughts and prejudices.

Finally, one of the most important points of all is that part of listening is really proving that you have listened. “I heard what you said, now I’m going to tell you what I heard you say” establishes whether listening has occurred. This is NOT reacting or making judgements on what is said.

So the good listener is the person who doesn’t just work at it, but who shows some evidence that the job has been done – the person who says things like:

“Let me check that I’ve got that right, are you saying ……..

“What I heard you say was…………… is that correct”

“Have I understood that correctly?

The motto of the good listener is “Receive before you react”. Using a coaching style of management lends itself to become a good listener.


Golden rules for responding to criticism

Welcome to another entry in our coaching skills for managers series, this time we’ve decided to address a skill that many find difficult – responding to criticism!

We all have our “Comfort Zones”, and getting feedback which does not line up with our perception of “who we are” or “what we did” can often cause us to feel under pressure or threat.

Golden rules for responding to criticism

Golden rules for responding to criticism

The secret to overcoming these natural responses is to first seek to understand rather than be understood. Basically, this means that before responding to criticism, seek clarification about what the other person has said and where they are “coming from”.

Statements such as:

“What I hear you saying is … is that right?”

“What that means to me is … is that correct?”

“What I think you are saying is … is that right?”

Apply your newly developed active listening skills to seek to understand why they believe what they do or feel the way they do.

When out of our comfort zone, it often feels as if we are under threat and have to justify our actions. Taken to extremes, these can be some of our responses:

  • Deny
  • Justify or Rationalise
  • Lay Blame
  • Withdraw from Reality

Each of these responses can initially assist us to keep from feeling threatened. Yet taken to excess, they only get in the way of developing trusting relationships, a willingness to learn and grow, and feelings of personal dignity and self-esteem.

“Remember, outstanding communicators are response …able”

Use your new skills to question the other person, to clarify what they mean, believe or feel.   Encourage them to be specific with you, ask for specific examples. Question deeper (probe) to find out how much of a concern particular issues are, and, what this means to them.

How Coaching Addresses The Top 3 Motivators At Work

Studies over many years have discovered some interesting insights as to what motivates people at work. The top 3 motivators at work are:

  •      Feeling Appreciated and Valued.
  •      Being involved in decision-making.
  •      Being supported with problems.

These studies have consistently shown that one of the main reasons people give for leaving their job is:

‘Their relationship with their manager’ – Source: CIPD Development Survey

How Coaching Addresses The Top 3 Motivators At Work

How Coaching Addresses The Top 3 Motivators At Work

Coaching is a very inclusive process. After all is said and done, coaching looks like a conversation between two people in a good relationship. This means that there is:

  •      Plenty of opportunity to demonstrate how you value each other (in fact it is proven that just committing some time to each other makes you feel valued!).
  •      Plenty of opportunity to involve each other in decision-making.
  •      Plenty of opportunity to be supportive with each other’s problems.

Therefore, coaching, when done well and consistently, directly addresses the top three reasons why the relationship between a manager and team member deteriorates. If you want people to “buy in”, stay and to perform to their full potential; managers must become confident in their use of coaching techniques.

Managers who coach improve productivity, morale and job satisfaction for themselves and their colleagues. Such managers find that people are more empowered, and less dependant on them, thus freeing them up to focus on their more ‘strategic’ priorities rather than being caught up in the ‘operational’ issues.

This means the manager has more time to spend on developing the skills; competence and independence of team members which continues to reduce their dependence on the managers. The end result is improved performance, less stress, more time for the ‘important’ things, as opposed to constantly putting out fires, and a happier more productive workforce.


7 Must Read Books for Workplace Coaches

When you’re getting into something new, it can be difficult to pinpoint the best literature to get yourself started. This is why we’ve compiled this list of a few quick suggestions to get you started with coaching and mentoring. In no particular order:

7 Must Read Books for Workplace Coaches

7 Must Read Books for Workplace Coaches

1. Nancy Kline – Time to Think

This isn’t just a book for coaches and mentors, but a book that everyone should probably read at some point. Time to Think talks about effective listening being the most essential and effective skill we can learn, especially for management. Kline provides a step-by-step guide as to how anyone can become an effective listener, making them more productive and effective as a manager, and as a person.

2. Stephen Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Having sold over 20 million copies worldwide Covey’s 7 Habits is a classic. As with our first book, 7 Habits is an inspiring and often life-changing read not just for coaches and mentors, but for anyone. The lessons offered by Covey in 7 Habits are timeless as the principles are solid and unchanging. If followed they will simply make you a more effective person!

3. Jenny Rogers, Andrew Gilbert and Karen Whittleworth – Manager as Coach: The New Way to Get Results

I’ll start with a disclaimer here as two of the authors are from our own team, so of course we love this book! However, Manager as Coach has received a very positive reception (short-listed for management book of the year), with people telling us that it’s really helped them to become more effective managers, and has allowed them to achieve amazing results.

4. John Whitmore – Coaching for Performance

John Whitmore has been a real inspiration for our own team at Worthlearning. His work with the GROW model has greatly influenced our own approach to coaching, a great read for anyone looking to start putting workplace coaching into practice.

5. Thomas G. Crane – The Heart of Coaching

This is a great read for anyone trying who’s not just looking to become a coach themselves, but hoping to influence a positive coaching culture in their organisation. The Heart of Coaching provides an achieveable roadmap, that lays out how to lead an organisation to higher-performance using coaching.

6. Lynne Cooper – The Five Minute Coach

The Five Minute Coach helps readers to put coaching quickly and effortlessly into practice. It’s outlines a simple, practical process for coaching that can help to improve the performance of both yourself and others.

7. Julie Starr – The Coaching Manual

One of the best, most practical coaching handbooks you can pick up. The Coaching Manual does a great job of outlining the principles of coaching, as well as providing practical and effective ways to start putting them into practice. A staple read for coaches.

There’s also plenty of free coaching content to be found all over the web, so have an explore and see what you find (you can subscribe to this blog for regular content). 


The Benefits Of Online Learning

The benefits of online learning

The benefits of online learning

How 360 Appraisals Can Help Measure Coaching Return on Investment

Thanks to the widespread availability of powerful online technologies, 360 degree performance appraisals can be conducted far more easily and cost-effectively than in the past. There is no longer a need to painstakingly distribute and collect written responses, or burn the midnight oil manually calculating the response data for your Monday morning presentation to the stakeholders.

How 360 Appraisals Can Help Measure Coaching Return on Investment

How 360 Appraisals Can Help Measure Coaching Return on Investment

Technology has turned performance appraisals in to a much simpler process, allowing organisations to keep a closer eye on performance measures than ever before. 360 degree appraisals are no longer being used just to measure individual performance, but to show return on investment from different intitiatives throughout the organistation. One area that 360 degree appraisals can be particularly useful in measuring the return on investment of is coaching.

A good 360 degree appraisal, measured against the competencies of the organisation will provide the coach and coachee with a detailed report on their current performance. This allows the coach and coachee to identify an area for improvement before the coaching even starts. Therefore, rather than spending expensive coaching hours trying to identify key areas for development, the 360 degree appraisal helps to inform the coaching conversations, making them far more efficient. This makes 360 degree appraisals a powerful tool for those organisations working towards creating a coaching culture.

Not only does the 360 appraisal process help inform coaching conversations, it also helps to measure the overall impact of the coaching. We believe the best way to measure the effectiveness of a coaching programme is to conduct a before and after appraisal. The qualitative and quantitative data provided gives a true, unbiased (due to the 360 degree nature of the report) measure of an individuals performance. With before and after appraisals being conducted the two sets of data can be compared, and any improvement following the coaching sessions can be identified and measured against the goals of the organisation.

This provides clear and accurate data that you can confidently share with stakeholders in order to display coaching return on investment in the organisation. Using a technology such as SurveyMonkey to gather and compile your data will also make conducting a 360 degree appraisal a breeze, so you can get a good nights sleep before that Monday morning presentation to the stakeholders!

If you’re looking to run a 360 degree appraisal to measure coaching and mentoring return on investment in your organisation, we can help.

How using the right leadership style will benefit your team members


Leaders define the roles and tasks of the ‘follower’, and supervise them closely.  Decisions are made by the leader and announced, so communication is largely one-way.


Leaders still define roles and tasks, but seek ideas and suggestions from the follower.  Decisions remain the leader’s prerogative, but communication is much more two-way.


Leaders pass day-to-day decisions, such as task allocation and processes, to the follower.  The leader facilitates and takes part in decisions, but control is with the follower.


Leaders are still involved in decisions and problem-solving, but control is with the follower.  The follower decides when and how the leader will be involved.

How using the right leadership style will benefit your team members

How using the right leadership style will benefit your team members

So which style should we use?

Effective leaders are versatile in being able to move between styles according to the situation, so there is no one right style.  However, we tend to have a preferred style, and you need to know which one that is for you.

Clearly the right leadership style will depend very much on the person being led – the follower. As a leader you need to understand the Development Level of the people in your team.  

Development Levels of team members:

There are four main Development Levels. These levels are driven by the Competence and Commitment of the team members as follows:

Development Level of Team Member Appropriate Leadership Style
D4 High Competence

High Commitment

Experienced at the job, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well.  May even be more skilled than the leader. Delegating S4
D3 High Competence

Variable Commitment

Experienced and capable, but may lack the confidence to go it alone, or the motivation to do it well / quickly. Supporting S3
D2 Some Competence

Low Commitment

May have some relevant skills, but won’t be able to do the job without help.  The task or the situation may be new to them. Supervising S2
D1 Low Competence

Low Commitment

Generally lacking the specific skills required for the job in hand, and lacks any confidence and / or motivation to tackle it. Directing S1


Development Levels depend on the situation:

For example, I might be generally skilled, confident and motivated in my job, but would still drop into Level D1 when faced, say, with a task requiring skills I don’t possess.  For example, lots of managers are D4 when dealing with the day-to-day running of their department, but move to D1 or D2 when dealing with a sensitive employee issue.


Adapting your leadership style to the situation:

It is the leader that must adapt their style to correspond with the Development Level (D1 – D4) of the follower. For example, a new person joins your team and you’re asked to help them through the first few days.  You sit them in front of a PC, show them a pile of invoices that need to be processed today, and push off to a meeting.  They’re at level D1, and you’ve adopted S4.  Everyone loses because the new person feels helpless and demotivated, and you don’t get the invoices processed.

On the other hand, you’re handing over to an experienced colleague before you leave for a holiday.  You’ve listed all the tasks that need to be done, and a set of instructions on how to carry out each one.  They’re at level D4, and you’ve adopted S1.  The work will probably get done, but not the way you expected, and your colleague is upset with you for treating them like an idiot.

But swap the situations and things get better.  Leave detailed instructions and a checklist for the new person, and they’ll thank you for it.  Give your colleague a quick chat and a few notes before you go on holiday, and everything will be fine.

By adopting the right style to suit the follower’s development level, work gets done, relationships are built up, and most importantly, the follower’s development level will rise to D4, to everyone’s benefit.

Infographic: Coaching Vs Mentoring



Leadership vs Management – what’s the difference?

Leadership and management skills are often grouped together, but there’s a very big difference between them. Here’s a brief description of some of the key differences between them.

Leadership vs Management - what's the difference?

Leadership vs Management – what’s the difference?

Management is a set of processes that can keep a complicated system of people and technology running smoothly. The most important aspects of management include planning, budgeting, organising, staffing, controlling and problem solving.

Leadership is a set of processes that creates organisations in the first place or adapts them to significantly changing circumstances. Leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles.

Management Leadership
Planning and Budgeting:

Establishing detailed steps and timetables for achieving needed results, and then allocating the resources necessary to make it happen.

Establishing direction:

Developing a vision of the future, in line with company objectives, for your team, and strategies for producing the changes needed to achieve that vision.

Organising and Staffing:

Establishing some structure for accomplishing plan requirements, staffing that structure with individuals, delegating responsibility and authority for carrying out the plan, providing policies and procedures to help guide people, and creating methods or systems to monitor implementation.

Aligning People:

Communicating direction in words and deeds to all those whose cooperation may be needed to influence the creation of teams and coalitions that understand the vision and strategies, and that accept their validity.

Controlling and Problem Solving:

Monitoring results, identifying deviations from the plan, then planning and organising to solve these problems.

Motivating and Inspiring:

Energising people to overcome major political, bureaucratic, and resource-based barriers to change by satisfying basic, but often unfulfilled human needs.

Management produces a degree of predictability and order and has the potential to consistently produce the short term results expected by the various stakeholders (e.g. for customers, always being on time; for stockholders, being on budget).

Leadership produces change, often to a dramatic degree, and has the potential to produce extremely useful change (e.g. new products that customers want, new approaches to labour relations that help make an organisation more competitive).