Coaching Tips for HR Professionals

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Executives, managers, and others interested in career growth and development are increasingly turning to a business coach for a personally tailored development experience. Coaching is a process of helping a leader or potential leader to develop the necessary skills to effectively manage a business workforce.

According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), there are four groups of core competencies for effective coaches. A coach should work to establish a solid foundation with a client to ensure they understand the purpose of the coaching and establish trust with the client. The coach should be an active listener and know how to tailor different methods of learning, while managing and tracking progress.

Following the principles of these competency groups can help you can become a more effective coach.

Agreement and Guidelines

One of the first steps a coach should take with a client is to establish a written agreement. This agreement outlines the type of relationship you'll want to develop with the client, what each party is responsible for, and should list the methods the coach uses to help the client develop.

As you consider the agreement you are going to present to a client, you'll need to know the industry they work in, and any other pertinent information such as the number of employees or work force demographics. This will help you tailor an approach when you're developing actions.

If you offer your services as a coach to a wide variety of industry clients, make sure you have developed methods that are cross-industry effective. Many techniques are effective through a wide spectrum of work, but if you are not familiar with an industry it is better to let the client know, so you can both decide if there is a compatibility issue.

The Relationship

Beginning a relationship is always a challenge. As you begin your familiarization of the client, you'll need to make sure you are genuine in your efforts to learn and listen.

To be genuine, you'll need to make sure you are free from distractions and able to focus on your client. Participate in the conversation and be present. Focus on their needs, unique situation, and what they want to accomplish.

One key aspect to be aware of is to know that you only know what you know. If you do not know something the client is referring to, be able to admit it. Work with your client to develop an understanding.

One of the harder assessments you'll need to make will include uncovering the client's fears involving work. Fear of failure is common for everyone. This is not something you should try for during the first 15 minutes of a session. It may take a while to establish enough trust and respect for people to voice these types of concerns.


Active listening is a method of taking part in a conversation while paying attention to what another party is saying and becoming involved. Ask questions, offer relevant examples and opinions, and encourage more output from the client.

Your ability to relate to your client will determine the outcome of your coaching. Make sure your questions are clear and address the point being discussed. You'll need to be able to provide examples that are easily understood and have clear and concise steps to use.

You'll need to make sure the clients understand that for the coaching to be effective, they will need to use what they have learned at work. Sometimes, clients will want the coach to be the person that fixes it all for them.

It is essential for the client's development that they understand that they are the one that uses the information to improve themselves. The coach provides instruction, feedback, and an environment to learn in.

Tailored Learning

As you develop your relationship with your clients, you should try to assess the best way to help them. Everyone learns differently, some more visual than others, and some are kinaesthetic (learning by doing), and others learn best by reading and writing.

When you have determined how your client best learns, use the information you gathered during your relationship-building to tailor an approach for each client. After some time you'll be able to pick programs you have used in the past, tweak it, and use the re-tailored version for other clients.

If the client has trouble initiating a feedback session, for instance, you might need to assess their method. You could choose to role-play a feedback session with them as the employee.

Give them a briefing on the role-play. Make sure they know what you are doing, why it is being done, and the purpose for doing it. This way your client can buy-in to your method and learn better from it. Once you're finished with the role-play, conduct a feedback session to address any issues.

It is important to create goals with your clients. Similar to creating tailored learning, you should tailor the goals for each client. A process for monitoring their progress should be developed, and sessions held to ensure you are holding them accountable for the actions discussed.

Effective coaching is all about listening and creating an approach specific to each person. Honesty from both coach and client in communication will further ensure the coaching program is successful. Something else to remember—if you can make the learning fun, and teach them to have fun while managing people you'll make a lasting impression and create effective leaders at the same time.