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Tools and Techniques for Coaching Employees

Coaching is more than tools and techniques; it is a state, a way of being, a philosophy, and a belief system.

Once we are in a place where the development and learning of our employees are more important to us than our feelings of being in control, or the importance of being right or having the best ideas, then coaching tools and techniques can have a real impact.

Why is Coaching Important?

A study by Thach (2002) found that executives who received six months of coaching increased their effectiveness by 55% when rated by their peers. We can reasonably conclude that this impact would translate to employees. Therefore, the impact and importance of leaders using a coaching style with employees on organisational growth, capacity and capability, retention, and performance is well established.

Tools for Coaching Employees

Below, we share some tools to use when developing tools for coaching employees.

Tool One: Ask Questions

The most crucial aspect of coaching is that we ask challenging questions that seek to enable the employee to reflect, learn, and grow. Asking questions that begin with “What” are less judgemental, as opposed to questions that start with “Why”, such as, “Why did you do that?” which are more likely to produce a defensive response.

Questions that begin with “What” tend to be more open and naturally curious questions. Asking, “Tell me more about...?” or “Could you walk me through that...?” have a similar effect.

Tool Two: Listen Carefully to the Answers

How often have you felt truly listened to?

Listening is a significantly underused skill. A coaching approach requires leaders to listen with their full attention (just read that line again). In her book, “Time to Think”, Nancy Kline details the importance of listening at work. How often do we listen with our full attention rather than thinking about what we want to say next?

If we listen with our full attention, what we hear and the other questions we begin to have is surprising.

Tool Three: Be Slow To Give Advice

What does giving advice do? Who benefits? What are the consequences?

We would suggest that giving advice often disempowers, creates dependency, and removes responsibility. It can make us feel better, feel important, and feel like we are contributing and adding value, but it does little to develop others and create a high functioning team.

That is not to say we never make a decision or instruct. Otherwise, we are likely to be abdicating and not taking up our responsibility as a leader.

Techniques for Coaching Employees

Here are some techniques to use when developing tools and techniques for coaching employees.

Technique One: Never Only Consider One Option

It is essential to make sure that you have about three options before you make decisions or when employees are making a decision. This is because choosing the way forward on a binary is extremely limiting.

Having one idea or choice also lacks creativity and innovation, and the employee may be holding back on an idea they feel is riskier to share.

It is worth considering asking “What else...?” as many times as it takes to have three really good ideas for the way forward.

Technique Two: One Round of Speaking Without Interruption

In line with encouraging listening, and much spoken about by Nancy Kline in her already mentioned book, “Time to Think”, it is worth considering at least one round of uninterrupted speaking in every meeting.

Allowing people to prepare before a meeting is critical to the success of this technique. You should then have at least one round in the meeting where everyone speaks and no one interrupts. Speaking knowing you will not be interrupted and listening knowing that you cannot interrupt are powerful techniques.

This already good coaching technique can be further developed by immediately asking the group to provide a list of questions following the round of uninterrupted speaking. Especially if these questions mostly begin with “What”.


Coaching is a way of being and a belief system as well as a system of tools and techniques. If our belief system aligns with a coaching approach, then this is a powerful leadership style that is highly effective in a diverse range of contexts and situations.

Try using the tools and techniques in this blog – we would love to hear from you about the impact they have had.

Contact Us

We hope that this article helps you recognise how powerful it can be to develop a coaching culture in your organisation.

Book a free consultation by calling us today to find out how our team of expert coaches can help and support you in building and developing your coaching culture.

Written by Leadership Coach Ian.


Impact of Executive Coaching, Thach (2002)

“Good Leadership is about Asking Good Questions” HBR

“Time to Think” Nancy Kline

“Top 10 Ways to Make Better Decisions” New Scientist


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