The Role of a Coach in the Workplace

  • Ezra
  • March 30th, 2021

Coaches are an important component in employee development and business growth, but what exactly does a coach do and how do you define the role in the context of a typical workplace?

The Role of a Coach in the Workplace

Coaching is something that a lot of businesses understand, but very rarely do they implement practices that take advantage of coaching. In fact, studies have shown that only 36% of organizations offer coaching-specific training to new leaders. Moving from a regular employee to a leadership position is a massive leap in responsibility, yet why do almost two-thirds of all companies neglect to provide sufficient training?

So in this post, we’re going to be talking about the role of a coach in the workplace and how they can drastically improve the work culture and performance of your individual staff members, but also as a collective team.

What exactly is the role of a coach?

Broadly speaking, a coach is defined as a person that is involved in the direction, instruction, or training of a team or individuals. Here are a couple of hallmarks of a coach:

  • They offer customized learning experiences that are tailored towards the needs of the individual that they’re working with.
  • They often work one-to-one as opposed to teaching a group of people.
  • They usually work side-by-side with individuals to offer practical advice on the field.
  • They are considered guides to go from one level of competency to another as opposed to offering instruction or teaching.

The role of a coach can often be confused with that of a teacher or mentor, so it’s important to distinguish the three so that it’s clear how coaching can be used in the context of a workplace.

  • Teaching is used to educate an individual on key concepts and points. This is usually carried out in a theoretical environment with very little practical reinforcement. Instead, students must visualize key concepts and learn from provided examples.
  • Mentoring often involves guidance as opposed to education. It typically involves emotional support to assist an individual in finding their place in an industry or workplace and not so much focused on practical skills.
  • Coaching occurs in the real world within the workplace. Everything that is taught has practical applications and it’s usually carried out on-the-job, meaning the individual learns as they work. The coach’s role is to facilitate learning, offer advice, and also analyze the individual to identify weaknesses and strengths.

What responsibilities does a coach have?

A workplace employee or leadership coach has many responsibilities that typically shift depending on the needs of the company or the individual. However, there are a couple of main responsibilities that almost every coach is expected to follow.

  • To open communications with the individual so that they may speak freely and explore different possibilities.
  • To encourage new and innovative processes that are based around the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • To listen to the individual and find solutions to their problems.
  • To offer regular feedback and criticism when appropriate.

The importance of being a coach as a manager or leader

Managers and leaders are uniquely situated to become extremely effective “on the ground” coaches for their employees. Leaders often have access to a lot of the feedback and performance metrics that can be used to coach employees and improve their performance in the workplace, but they can also offer emotional support that can solve challenges related to the individual’s personal weaknesses.

Here are some ways that a leader can utilize their position to offer effective coaching to their staff:

  • Identify weaknesses and strengths and deal with them accordingly.
  • Weaknesses should be nullified as much as possible by establishing processes that work around them instead of facing them head-on in an attempt to “cure” them.
  • Strengths should be amplified and highlighted to motivate employees and help them find a niche within their team. This gives them a purpose and helps them hone their talents to be an effective member of the company.
  • Building stronger relationships by analyzing interactions between team members and encouraging engagement for more productive collaborations.
  • Boost the self-confidence of talented employees that haven’t been given a chance to showcase their strengths.

Managers and leaders have access to many unique performance metrics regarding their workers. By accessing this data and observing the team, managers can become extremely effective coaches that have the power to create strong team bonds and boost productivity. It helps employees achieve a strong sense of fulfilment and can also transform underachievers into star members of the team.

Supporting your workplace’s internal coaches

Even if the leader or manager doesn’t personally become a coach to their team, it’s important to understand how you can assist your workplace’s internal coaches to help them perform their jobs effectively.

  • Define what your expectations of coaching are. Coaching is a very vague role at times and it’s hard for internal coaches to understand what they should be aiming for or how to measure their own performance. Define your expectations upfront and set clear goals to ensure your internal coaches are given a sense of direction.
  • Develop a pool of coaches. Coaches don’t just naturally appear–they need to be nurtured much like your employees. A strong internal coaching program can help identify and motivate coaches in your team.
  • Give them access to performance metrics. Coaches can function better when they have access to different performance metrics. If they can see the data that you have on various employees, then it makes it easier to identify strengths and weaknesses which they can focus on.

Utilizing professional coaches

Developing a pool of coaches is extremely important if you want to make better use of internal coaches. After all, coaching itself is a talent that must be identified and nurtured.

If you believe that some members of your team are ideal candidates to become workplace coaches for the rest of your company, then it’s important to capitalize on their strengths and encourage them to develop these skills, often by engaging with professional coaches themselves through an easy access route such as a coaching app. This helps to embed their approach to development for other employees and will establish lasting, truly beneficial transformation in your workplace.

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