When you think about coaching in an organization, most people automatically envision in-depth, face-to-face discussions.

While these more formal coaching sessions are important for engaging talent, improving performance, and opening up lines of communication, there is another critical aspect of coaching that often gets overlooked.

Express, or on-the-spot coaching is another valuable tool that leaders can use as they strive to engage talent throughout the organization and better the workforce.

So, what is express coaching?

This type of coaching consists of short, in-the-moment coaching sessions that take place at opportune times throughout the workday and in a variety of settings. Participants in our coaching programs commonly say that they don’t always have the opportunity to have formal coaching discussions as often as they would like, so express coaching is a good solution.

Express CoachingWhen done effectively, these teachable moments can make a big difference in a leader’s ability to develop team members, build relationships, and ultimately improve retention and performance over the long term.

So how can express coaching be used effectively? Read on for important tips about how leaders can use this important coaching technique.

Recognize the Situation

An effective coach has the ability to recognize a situation that provides the perfect opportunity for express coaching vs. a situation that is best addressed in an in-depth coaching conversation. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you determine what kind of coaching is appropriate.

  • Is the coaching topic about a specific, tactical issue or is it a broader performance issue or development opportunity?
  • If you’re dealing with a tactical situation or teaching moment that has clear and specific guidelines or you want to provide some recognition, express coaching is probably the best approach. Ongoing performance issues or development planning will require more formal coaching. These issues should be addressed when there is sufficient time to have a lengthier dialogue, explore information in more depth, and partner with the coachee in building a plan of action.
  • How much time will it take to share your coaching and feedback?
  • If you can share your perspective and introduce the coaching topic in an efficient way, then express coaching is probably a good way to go. However, if the coaching topic will take more time to effectively introduce or if you might encounter some resistance from the coachee, then consider holding off and finding a time to coach when you have ample time to address the issue or opportunity.
  • How much credibility do you have with the coachee?
  • Express coaching is typically much more effective when you have a well-established and high-trust relationship with the person you are coaching. Keep this in mind when you decide what type of coaching interaction is best. When you have an emerging relationship with the person or there is low trust, an effective in-depth coaching discussion may be your best approach. A formal coaching session will not only allow you to address the coaching topic, but often times the interaction strengthens the relationship and builds trust. Remember that it is important to use every coaching interaction as an opportunity to provide support and build a stronger relationship.

Be Aware and Prepared

Because express coaching situations typically arise on the spot, you need to be observant and aware of what’s going on around you. You also need to be prepared to act quickly when you see a coaching opportunity emerge. Keep an eye out for situations like these:

  • A new team member may not fully understand what is being asked of them or is trying to learn something.
  • A team member is doing their job exceptionally well and you can provide some recognition.
  • A team member has made a noticeable improvement.
  • A team member has implemented a creative solution to a problem and you can listen to their ideas.

As with any coaching discussion, just make sure you are being clear about the coaching topic and always check for understanding.

Remember, express coaching does not replace the need for in-depth coaching, but it is a powerful tool for engaging the workforce and improving performance. Over time, as you consistently provide both formal and informal coaching you will communicate to your team members that you are a partner in their success and helping them be effective is a top priority for you.

Express coaching doesn’t need to be a mystery. Let the experts at CMOE help. For nearly 40 years we have helped organizations develop the coaching capabilities of their leaders. Learn more about our coaching programs and other leadership development topics by visiting our website and see how CMOE can partner with you to transform your organization.

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About the Author
Stephanie Mead
Ms. Mead has experience in operations management, leadership development curriculum design, organization development consulting, and international operations. Stephanie has developed complete leadership development curriculums for some of the world’s leading organizations. Her experience also includes creating specialized learning experiences and blended learning programs aimed at maximizing human and organization performance. Stephanie has also co-authored 4 books with other CMOE consultants.

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