Little league baseball teams need it, professional football players need it, but chances are your employees also need some coaching to perform at their best.

Let’s say you’re an experienced manager who’s confident in your leadership role and who enjoys seeing your team succeed. Yet, sometimes, you sense that your employees aren’t achieving all they could be. Sound familiar? If so, coaching is one of the most effective ways to encourage your employees to feel more fulfilled in their work and become a more cohesive and collaborate team, better equipped to achieve your goals.

One of the most critical—but undervalued—abilities for leader-managers requires soft skills, those that relate to interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. As a leader, you are required to react to different situations and guide different types of people with varied learning and working styles. For example, for more introverted employees, any issues dealing with performance review should be dealt with in a very different way than for the more extroverted employees. These tips can help you learn the skills—and the emotional intelligence—to coach your team to success.

  1. Read up. If you don’t have any experience with coaching, two great places to start with are Coaching for Performance by John Whimore and The Coaching Manager: Developing Top Talent in Business
    by James M. Hunt and Joseph R. Weintraub.
  2. Be observant. Opportunities to coach your employees will present themselves. Learn to look at situations for lack of follow through, poor communication and inability to deal with team conflict as opportunities to provide them with guidance. It’s important to note that employees must be self-reflective and open to options if coaching is going to work.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. For example, asking “how do you think we could improve customer satisfaction?’ will get you a more thoughtful answer than, “do you think you could do a better job of responding to customer concerns in a timely manner?” Asking open-ended questions will get the team member to explore his or her options and choose his or her own solution. Be warned, it will be difficult to let an employee talk it out without jumping in with your own solution! But if you lose patience and provide them with an answer, they won’t learn anything and won’t commit to the solution in the same way they would if it was their own.
  4. Practice! It won’t be easy at first, but the more you do it, the more skilled you will become.

Coaching will add many dimensions to your leadership abilities, allowing you to not only differentiate among employees but also bring a specific skill set to communicating with these different learning styles on an individual basis. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing employees reach their full potential. Your passion for leadership will be fulfilled.

For more resources on how to get your employees engaged, click here.