In a leadership role, the most important thing you can do is help your team members make progress on what is meaningful for them. That is the most powerful motivating experience at work.

Many leaders neither take out time for development conversations nor have the skills to do it. Consequently, employee growth, engagement, and retention suffers.

Leaders who engage in coaching conversations, create a better connection with their team members. When they help someone achieve something important for them, it is a transforming experience. This not only leads to greater employee satisfaction, but also helps the leaders feel better about themselves. Listed below are the best five ways to have a meaningful coaching conversation…

Five ways for having a better coaching conversation


To add more meaning and satisfaction in your job as a leader, you can have regular coaching conversations with your team members to support their ongoing learning and development.

1. Listen actively

We have all experienced a conversation wherein we try to communicate something important, while the other person is drifted and distracted. Contrast to this, imagine the experience of having someone listening attentively to every word you have to say, with an open mind and an open heart. There is sea of difference between the two. The experience of being ‘completely present’ is a game changer. Active Listening is the beginning of a coaching conversation. You could start a coaching conversation with a question like, “What goals would you like to achieve from this session?” Equally important is to create time and a conducive space for a coaching conversation, wherein you have no physical/mental distractions. Doing this engages your team members and encourages them to open up and be creative.

2. Ask, don’t tell

Leaders are used to being direct in telling their team members what to do. This prescriptive attitude works with defining milestones for project plans or when consulted for expert advice. However, in coaching conversations, leaders need to control the temptation to provide answers. Your way need not be your employee’s way. Coaching is all about asking relevant and powerful open-ended questions. To succeed as a coach, you enable your team members to define their goals and challenges and find their own answers. When they do this, their priorities are clarified, and they identify solutions that are aligned with what is important to them and that they are committed to.

3. Build a developmental partnership

While a coach does not provide answers, a coach supports their team members’ developmental goals and learning plans. For example, if an employee aspires to be a project manager and wants to assist a project manager to learn how to manage projects, then providing that opportunity becomes the responsibility of the leader, if you agree that this would benefit both the employee and the organization. Following through is essential for strengthening the developmental partnership. Checking on progress, helping with difficulties, appreciating new achievements are few of the actions to take, for follow-through support of developmental plans. The more a leader does this, the better trust they gain from employees, who become even better engaged, in a virtuous cycle.

4. Focus on finding solutions

During coaching conversations, a team member may go on venting their frustrations. They may say they don’t have time to learn or build a network; there is too much pressure or a demanding customer who takes up all their attention. While acknowledging the frustrations, a leader/coach encourages the employee to find a solution to deal with them. A leader/coach can ask, “Which actions of yours will help build your competency in delivering on your primary objectives and add value to the organization?” “How could you take out some time every week to work on your development plan?” ” Do you have any ideas on how we as a team could become more efficient so that we can free up time for our development?”

5. Take ownership

While you follow through on commitments made to your team members during coaching conversations, you need to ensure that they, too, take ownership of creating and implementing their development plans. Ownership strengthens the effectiveness of coaching conversations, making it a critical part of organization development. Encourage team members to develop their learning plans, achieve their development goals and the investment requirements by a deadline, and increase ownership. You will then need to support it, on time, as well.

What will I gain from coaching my team members?

Coaching strengthens your relationship with your team members, encourages them to take ownership of their learning and build the competencies they need for their current role and future aspirations. You will enjoy greater satisfaction from your role, as your team delivers better performance, gets more creative, delivers innovations for customers, and adds value to the organization.

So, let’s get started with coaching conversations. Do consider getting Coach training by attending the Regal Coach Certification Program for practicing and aspiring leaders. We have world-class master coaches, certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). If you are looking forward for meaningful conversations, find us here:

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