Three Tips for Coaching Employees

My 7th grade English teacher has no idea how much he impacted my life.

When I was 12, I asked him how old I needed to be to be an author. He said, "Most writers don't get published until they're around 30 years old."

30?! I couldn't wait that long! I'll be an old lady by then.

My panicked, 12-year-old brain came up with a solution. I would double up my experiences, packing twice the life into each year. It would work a little like dog years, but in reverse. By my calculations, by the time I was 21 I would be the equivalent of a 30-year-old in life experiences—a great age to publish my first book.

I got busy. In junior high and high school I held various ASB offices, learned French horn, became a cheerleader, played tennis, trained dogs, studied abroad . . . you name it. Piling on experiences became second nature.

I started writing screenplays, all the while still packing on experiences—skydiving, kick boxing, mud wresting, and more. Thirty came and went, and then 40, but no success. Finally at 42 my first movie came out. By my 12-year-old-calculations, I'd achieved my goal at an elderly 72 in "life experience" years.

Effective Coaching

I tell this story, because it illustrates that coaching can happen at any time, even when it unintentional. If you're a manager, supervisor, or teacher, what you say and do on a daily basis can and does have a big impact.

Coaching your employees isn't tough. It doesn't take any training; it just takes being aware, listening and speaking up. The Practical Coach 2 provides simple steps to effective coaching.

  • Reward Good work. When you see someone doing something above and beyond let them know you appreciate it.
  • Correct Poor work.  Letting poor work go unnoticed is the work of a poor coach. Correct employees in private, but keep it positive and let them know you care.
  • Help the Struggling. If you have employees who have hit a dead end, stop and listen. Find out the issue. Maybe they lack confidence and are afraid to try things, or maybe they lack skills to take on new projects.

Coaching does require commitment, but anything worth doing does. I say step up and take it on. Play that vital role in the lives your employees. Why? Because you're already having an impact, whether you know it or not.

I should know. I'm closing in on 84 years old. 

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.