Coaching Makes Employees More Productive

Ann All

If there's one thing millennial employees want, it's professional guidance. That message came through loud and clear when I interviewed Lisa Orrell, author of the book "Millennials Incorporated" and a consultant who works with companies to educate their executive leaders and management teams on how to better recruit, manage and retain millennial talent. She told me:

The great thing about millennials is they are very open to coaching and training. Some older generations have a strong aversion to it. But millennials are like, "Teach me, train me, coach me anywhere you can. I want as much guidance as I can get." The more companies realize this and address it with this generation, the better.

Coaching is important for older employees, too. A article cites an International Personnel Management Association study that found ordinary training typically boosted productivity by 22 percent, while training combined with coaching increased productivity by 88 percent.


The article's author, leadership coach Jackie Arnold, director of Coach 4 Executives. and author of "Coaching Skills for Leaders in the Workplace," says coaching differs from mentoring in that coaches actively encourage employees to take ownership and responsibility for their self-development. The coach doesn't offer ideas or suggestions, Arnold writes:

The manager-as-coach does not need to come up with answers. Instead he will listen more closely to staff, reflecting back what he hears and questioning them in order to bring out their own ideas and answers.

This was exactly the experience of a friend of mine, who got a complementary coaching session when writing about an event for an organization called the Kentucky Coaches Alliance. After his session, he decided to coach his son's Little League team, a decision he'd been wrestling with for weeks. As he notes, the coaching "consisted of making me stop and think about what's important to me and asking obvious questions."


All four of the coaching no-nos Arnold lists in the article relate to coaches being pushy or superior. They are:

  • Trying to fix problems for employees.
  • Jumping in with your ideas or suggestions.
  • Making employees feel you are the expert.
  • Letting employees know you know more than they do.


Among other coaching tips, Arnold recommends using John Whitmore's "grow" model:

  • G = Goal (What does the team/individual want to achieve?)
  • R = Reality (What is the current reality of the situation/issue?)
  • O = Options (What options are open to them?)
  • W = Will/Way (Is there a will and a way to take things forward?)

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