By: Amy Dozier on October 28th, 2013

Print/Save as PDF

How to Coach Your Employees to Reach their Potential

Total Rewards | Business Management & Strategy | Best Practices | Employee Relations | Talent Acquisition

I love fall.  The crisp, cool air reminds me of walking to basketball practice in sweatpants and a hoodie, and I get excited!  At the time I was just having fun, but looking back I realize how much I learned from sports that can be translated into life and into business.  Coaching is one of those things.

When we hear the word “coach”, most people think about a sports coach; but, people can be coaches outside of the sports arena too, and I believe that every manager should play a coaching role.  I don’t mean get out your clip board and whistle.  I mean get to know your employees as individuals so you can set them up to succeed as individuals and as a team.

John Wooden is one of the most admired coaches in not only NCAA basketball, but in sports.  He won ten NCAA titles as head coach at UCLA and was named national coach of the year six times.  And yes, he had a very talented team that helped him get there, but he had to get 10 very talented individuals to work together as a team year after year.  And that took coaching off the court.

There is a video on the official site of Coach John Wooden where Coach Wooden talks about how he wanted his athletes to know that he cared for them personally and not just what they did on the court.  He says, “I got acquainted with them early because of their athletic ability and I wanted them because of their athletic ability.  But, I wanted them to know that I was concerned for them personally…

I take what John Wooden says about getting to know his athletes, and I translate “athletes” into employees.  We hire employees for their ability to perform a job.  Once they are hired, it is our job as a company and as managers to help those employees reach their highest potential.

Here are 13 tips I give to our clients on how to develop relationships with their employees and help them reach their potential:

  1. Show your interest in your employees as people and as employees
  2. Ask about their family and hobbies and what makes them tick*
  3. Share your own experiences
  4. Provide constant, open, honest, and constructive feedback
  5. Let your employees know when they did something good and when they could have done something better
  6. Provide timely feedback
  7. Give your employees your undivided attention (that means close the door and turn off your cell phone)
  8. Show your trust in your employees by giving them autonomy
  9. Ask your employees for their opinion
  10. Help them get from A to B without doing the job for them
  11. Walk through their thought process with them and let them find the answer without you telling them the answer
  12. Let them make mistakes, but don’t set them up to fail
  13. Show your support for them

*As HR, I must throw a disclaimer in here and say don’t pry and try not to go down a path that could later be used in a discrimination claim.

Use the information you learned about your employees personally and professionally to cater your manager style to each individual employee.  They will appreciate that you know when to listen and when to give feedback.  They will be motivated to do their best for you and in turn, for the company.

Good luck.  Now get down and give me 20!