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5 Tips for an Effective Coaching Session

Having a good coaching style is considered to be one of the essential skills that a leader needs – it’s about developing your people, improving capability in the workplace, motivating individuals, and looking for ways to continually improve performance.

To ensure you get the most from your coaching sessions, we’ve put together five simple but effective tips.

1. Ask Good Questions

Asking good questions is vital to having an effective coaching session and asking the right questions will help you get to the bottom of issues and put the right solutions in place.

Avoid using closed questions that involve a simple yes or no response, and instead opt for using open-ended queries, such as “What is it you want to achieve? What has you done about this so far? What else could you try?”.

These types of questions will give the individual the space to consider things from a different perspective and encourages them to elaborate on the issue. Plus, the more they tell you, the more you can help them.

It’s a simple tip, but it can make a great difference between a one-way interrogation and a session intended to help maximise performance.

2. Listen and Encourage

Coaching is very much about trust, relationship and encouragement. As a coach, you must work with employees to build one-on-one relationships that result in improved performance.

It is likely that the individual is going to have a lot of input, questions and feedback. Therefore, it’s important that you encourage the individual to share their opinion and show that you are listening to what they have to say.

To show the individual you are listening, summarise and rephrase what they’ve said. Not only will this help you, the coach, gain a clear understanding of the situation, it will also provide the coachee with an opportunity for further reflection as they hear their own words in a new light.

3. Guide the Conversation

Knowing how to guide the conversation is where communication skills and emotional intelligence come into action. As a coach, it is essential that you guide the conversation by asking the good, relevant questions and listening.

Using coaching tools and methods are effective ways to establish the direction and route the conversation takes. Silence especially, is a powerful tool and helps you to not offer suggestions and helps the coachee to think of their own options and solutions.

Letting the employee uncover the answer themselves, rather than telling them what to do, enables them to learn and grow.

4. Have a Positive Approach

Maintaining a positive outlook, even in difficult situations, is an important element of coaching. A positive attitude towards situations can help both the coach and the coachee to respond and react in a way that fosters positive change.

If a negative situation is brought to light, acknowledge their emotions, but be careful not to let the session turn into one that is used for venting or pointing the finger. Turn the situation around by asking questions that encourage positivity. For example, “I understand your frustrations. How can you move forward from this?”.

In doing so, you won’t be adding fuel to the fire and reinforcing the negative emotions they are currently feeling. By taking a positive approach, it can help the individual gain a new perspective, direction and focus.

5. Generate Personal Responsibility and Ownership

As a coach, you should encourage the individual to look at their options and way forward, to generate personal responsibility for the task in hand. Spending a few moments thinking about the different options will enable them to choose a way forward and create a plan and, because the way forward is their choice, they will have more motivation to act.

You, as the coach therefore need to avoid giving direct advice or offering your own solution and, instead ask a series of questions to draw out the thoughts of the colleague.

The idea is that, through this thought process, the person being coached will arrive at solutions which are more likely to be relevant and realistic because they are their own ideas and have not been imposed by you.


By implementing these five simple but effective tips into your coaching sessions, individuals will be developed and challenged in a way that builds new skills and enables them to learn from their experiences. You as the coach will be helping to unlock their potential to maximise their own performance and supporting their personal development through coaching sessions which are beneficial for both the individual and the business. 

Our next ILM accredited coaching & mentoring programmes start on the 15th May 2018. For more information, download the programme flyers.

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