How Can Coaching Improve Performance? (Top 5 Benefits)

If you’ve read our article on coaching, you understand that coaching has two main areas of focus: performance and development. Here we will discuss how coaching improves performance and how you can leverage it to drive your team forward.

What Is Coaching for Performance?

Coaching for performance is a coaching method that leaders can use to close gaps in their team members’ performance. This may involve incorporating some or all of the following behaviors into your leadership style:

  • Acknowledging and encouraging desirable behavior
  • Calling team members out if they are not on the right track
  • Offering team members thoughtful challenges that encourage them to improve upon their weaknesses
  • Holding team members accountable for their responsibilities and goals

Why Is Coaching for Performance Important?

No matter their role or how long they’ve been at the organization, everyone has opportunities to stretch, grow, and contribute more value to their team, clients, and the business.

Coaching for performance enables team leaders to measure and improve employees’ performance consistently. Moreover, it allows team members to have frequent access to leaders who can guide them through the maze of expectations they must meet and competencies they must possess.

Studies show that coaching improves organizations’ performance and competitiveness in a number of ways:

  • Sales increased by 10 to 19 percent
  • Profit increased by 14 to 29 percent
  • Customer experience increased by 3 to 7 percent
  • Employee engagement increased by 9 to 15 percent

Organizations and industries are constantly changing, competition is always pressing, and customer expectations are always rising, so people need to be having regular discussions about their progress and performance with their leaders. These coaching conversations should be conducted in a natural, skillful way that motivates team members to be open to guidance and to take action.

The Top 5 Benefits of Coaching and Their Effect on Performance

Research shows that over 70 percent of employees who are skillfully coached improve their performance on the job. Let’s dig deeper by navigating through the top five benefits of performance coaching.

1.    Greater Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is linked to performance and career success, and constructive feedback is key in building self-awareness.

A performance coach drives self-awareness among team members by providing feedback on behaviors, practices, and the results they produce. The insights and opportunities for improvement can help employees understand how to better achieve their goals.

Helping employees to build greater self-awareness may involve one or more of the following strategies:

  • Specifically acknowledging and encouraging behavior and achievements
  • Having courageous coaching conversations when people are off target or must make changes
  • Reviewing people’s strengths and development needs

In addition, coaches understand that feedback is a two-way street; coaches must also be coachable. Commit to building your team’s self-awareness by starting with your own and periodically asking for input on your own coaching opportunities and development needs.

2.    Greater Motivation

If employees are feeling a bit too comfortable in their positions, doing the bare minimum, sticking to the status quos, then performance coaching can reinvigorate their commitment to their job and their performance. Performance coaching helps team members

  • Challenge themselves.

Good coaches are thoughtful and invest time to find opportunities that will help team members leverage their strengths. For example, if an employee is good at problem-solving, you may have them collaborate with other departments to find solutions for their ongoing issues. This can take your people out of their comfort zone in a positive way and allow them to discover new ways to excel.

  • Become better contributors.

By helping team members with their strengths and weaknesses, they can become better contributors to the organizations ability to compete. Placing them in situations where they feel motivated can help team members reach their full potential.

3.    Greater Resilience

In the business world, change is inevitable, but it can still cause a lot of stress for your people. Coaches can help employees adapt to and manage change by supporting their development of the following skills:

  • Adaptability – Leaders who act quickly and get people onboard are two times more likely to make change happen than those who are less nimble.
  • Innovation – Coaches can encourage team members to think critically, share their ideas and inspire one another.
  • Strategy – With coaching, employees can learn how to anticipate and prepare for the future.
  • Communication – As said by Steven J. Stowell, Ph.D.; Eric D. Mead, and Cherissa S. Newton in Coaching for Results:

“Coaching is a two-way communication process between members of the organization (leaders to team members, peers to peers, team members to leaders) aimed at influencing and developing the employees’ skills, motivation, attitude, judgment or ability to perform, and the willingness to contribute to an organization’s goals.”

4.    Greater Direction

Coaching employees to improve performance ensures that team members are moving in the right direction with their tasks and strategies by helping them map out a clear plan for moving forward.

Rather than being micromanagers, good coaches fuel creativity and help individuals identify good solutions and provide guidance when needed. Together, coaches and team members assess potential risks and establish accountability for the commitments they make.

5.    Greater Morale

Over 70 percent of coached employees foster better relationships with coworkers and over 80 percent feel more confident in their ability to produce desired results.

Employees feel better prepared to tackle challenges and contribute more to the team with candid coaching conversations. These benefits can fuel greater employee morale and enhance the organization’s competitiveness.

What Are the Most Effective Coaching Techniques for Performance?

Coaches can foster performance in the workplace using the following three techniques:

1.    Be Candid Yet Caring

John Wooden (a celebrated college basketball coach) said, “A coach is someone who can give corrections without causing resentment.”

When giving constructive criticism, it’s essential to be candid yet caring. You want to motivate and empower your team members—not create tension.

Coaches can display support to team members in the following ways:

  • Emphasize what’s in it for them.

Help others understand why a change in their methods, behavior or work accuracy is worth their time. Whether that’s meeting team goals or providing better service to clients, offering an explanation for why the change matters can provide people with valuable insights and context. It can also help them understand that their actions in the workplace have a greater impact than just on themselves.

  • Avoid blaming or shaming.

Leading with blame and shame will not create a productive conversation, it only fosters distrust. For example, instead of saying, “Your report is wrong,” say, “I think we have different perceptions about how to describe your findings. Tell me your thoughts.” Always strive to keep the conversation neutral, and make an effort to explore and acknowledge your team member’s viewpoints.

Approaching the coaching conversation with candor and caring improves your chances of helping your employee achieve desired results and fosters a stronger relationship between you both.

2.    Select the Right Coaching Style

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to coaching. Different issues and circumstances will necessitate different coaching styles.

For example, a high-stress situation that requires a quick turnaround on a project may require a “more directive” coaching style. In this situation, instructing a team member on what to do and how to do it may help yield the right results.

On the other hand, a project that is complex and requires a lot of creativity likely requires more collaboration.  This style or approach involves giving team members a strong voice in the decision process.

Here are two other applicable performance-coaching styles:

  • Holistic coaching
    Holistic coaching strives to elevate the performance and motivation of an individual by helping them see all the interconnected parts. Holistic coaching includes not just establishing performance expectations, but setting development priorities, providing guidance (formal or informal), and holding performers accountable. This type of coaching should help individuals understand how their performance affects their role, their career opportunities, the team, and the organization’s results.
  • Integrated coaching
    Integrated coaching is focused on providing real-time coaching and feedback. It’s a quick way to connect with and coach your team members on a specific skill, behavior, or development area you would like to address. This is not a formalized sit-down conversation; it is truly designed to be coaching on the fly. For example, think of a volleyball coach who is operating from the sideline. This coach is providing immediate guidance and input to their players in an effort to change or reinforce behavior to help impact short-term results. Integrated coaching is much the same in that its approach is less structured.

The key to effective coaching is to be flexible, adaptive, and trust your instincts. Whatever circumstances you face, stay focused on the goal and outcomes you need.  Be authentic and clarify your intentions to support the person you are coaching and what is right is right for the organization.

3.    Gather Feedback

The only way to become a better coach is through feedback. Research illustrates that high-performing companies are more likely to teach managers how to coach and hold them accountable  as compared to their counterparts.

Gathering feedback from peers or team members is a great way to identify the coaching behaviors that are linked with positive business outcomes. Though you have an idea of what you believe entails good coaching, your team members might think differently. Conduct feedback sessions where employees can express what is working and what isn’t. This is a proactive way to refine coaching techniques that cultivate performance for you and your team members.

Good two-way dialogue fosters better self-awareness, a characteristic that is crucial in high-performing leaders. One study illustrates that managers who are open to feedback felt more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. With a better understanding of themselves, the managers were more confident tackling big challenges.

Drive Your Team’s Performance with CMOE

If you’re looking for ways to help develop your leadership capability, be sure to look into CMOE’s coaching workshops (eLearning courses also available). From our Courageous Conversations workshop to our Coaching Skills training programs, we are committed to helping leaders discover ways to achieve positive and measurable changes and help team members grow and support the organization’s long-term, sustained success.

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About the Author

CMOE Team

CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.