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Some practical tips to help you with coaching in your business

by Rose McDonald

Having recently refreshed my coaching and mentoring skills by working through a continuing professional development (CPD) course, I thought I would share some of the key elements of coaching and how it can benefit both you as a manager and your team member.

Here at The Smart Training Company, we work with several industry colleagues to help them become better coaches through fostering a great working relationship with their team members by truly understanding them and through strategic goal setting. We also coach team members within organisations on a 1:1 basis where we are asked to do so. Our varied and in-depth experience, knowledge and passion in the hospitality industry helps us to ensure our support is relevant and above all empathic.

Here are a number of key areas to think about when coaching…

1. Improve one or two key areas of development at a time.

Don’t try to do too much at once. Build momentum once trust and confidence is built. Allow your team member to achieve even the smallest of goals as this demonstrates positive reinforcement of coaching for your team member. Celebrate any progress made in your sessions, however small.

2. Use a coaching model (such as G.R.O.W.) to instil confidence in your team member.

This will mean they see a methodical approach rather than being coached haphazardly which can lead to a disorganised and frustrating coaching session. Coaching should be natural and using a coaching model will develop a consistent and natural process for both of you.

3. Identify the goal first, and end with putting a plan together.

Setting a goal first sets the tone and shapes the discussion with your team member. Ensure these are agreed together and clearly defined. Vague and confusing goals are usually never achieved. Write it down in a plan otherwise it won’t happen. Putting together a well-defined, unambiguous plan is vital to know the direction you need to go and to be able to measure success or failure.

4. Ensure goals are clearly defined.

Define specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART) driven goals. This is really important otherwise you may never see improvement or reach the goals, and this will cause frustration for you both and this negative cycle will keep repeating itself. With clear goals, coaching time will become more efficient, and you will be able to plan ahead of each session and have time to prepare targeted questions and avoid wandering and waffling thus ensuring the session is clear and direct.

5. Talk less, listen more!

Encouraging your team member to speak more enables you to gather more information. Ask questions about their goals, listen to what they say as this will reveal their desires and you can tie this into the coaching goal. Understanding where they are and the reality now in relation to their goals shows where they may need more support from you, and this will build a great working relationship.

6. Find out what roadblocks or obstacles are in the way.

They may be experiencing some personal or organisational issues that are getting in the way. Demonstrating empathy goes a long way and this can be taken into account when setting the objectives of the goal. Discuss options, ideas, support, and guidance to resources that may help them to get around the obstacle and when they realise the impact in performance on their own, they will be more likely want to suggest their own solution with you there in support.

7. Use the ‘3T’ questioning technique to document major milestones and ensure accountability.

Ask, “What are you going to do… tomorrow…two weeks from today…and thirty days from today?” Agree and discuss these together and set SMART goals.

8. Allow your team member to feel in control of their goals.

To ensure they are motivated and engaged it’s so important that your team member feels this is a two-way session and that they are part of their own development and in setting the solutions to their goals. More innovation and creativity can often result.


The key part of coaching is to learn and develop. Allowing your team member to learn something new is important to their overall development and they will feel valued in the investment you are making in them. Demonstrating you care will encourage a better working relationship and ultimately better performance.

As a coach, it is extremely rewarding to help, support and encourage your team member on their learning journey and to help them achieve growth. Establishing trust and maintaining it is the most important part of the entire coaching process. This must be a genuine desire in you and requires an investment in time and emotion.

To find out more about implementing a culture of coaching in your organisation or if you wish to broaden your own coaching skill set then please do get in touch.