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Four Vital Coaching Skills

Accomplished managers know small, consistent actions often produce oversized results. For example, implementing disciplined hiring practices increases the odds of landing solid talent, which in turn yields bonanza results for organizations.

Pareto’s principle, or the 80/20 rule, states that 80 percent of desired results is driven by a vital few (20 percent) actions.

Mastering the following four vital coaching skills provides a 1-2 business punch: 1) they help bolster employee engagement, and 2) provide ROI (return on investment) for the organization’s coaching resources.


“The disciplined coach rejects hope as a performance strategy.”

beats out reactive, or my door is always open coaching. Standing 1:1s using developmentally focused processes and documentation is the trademark of the master coach.  ROI:

  • Employee perceives manager cares about them, a key condition of employee engagement, according to Gallup.
  • A single priority development area has been identified, thus increasing employee’s chances of being successful.
  • Prevents manager from going on auto-pilot, or winging it, thus increasing clarity and focus.

“It isn’t effective or productive to force your employees to do anything. Choice empowers people and makes for a more content workplace.”
—Richard Branson, Founder Virgin Group

For many managers this says easy, does hard. Good managers solve problems; unfortunately wearing the Mr. or Mrs. fix it hat during a coaching conversation is a stubborn liability. ROI:

  • Employee learns to analyze and solve problems by learning how to think through challenges, opportunities, and obstacles.
  • Employee is encouraged and empowered to own their problems, thus fostering self-reliance and independence.
  • Employee is more likely to feel motivated, committed, and accountable to measurable actions since they largely crafted the solution.

20% is direct guidance, feedback, and direction. ROI:

  • Builds trusting, respectful, professional relationships.
  • Creates space for rich dialogue and collaboration.
  • Models that learning, growth, and development are dynamic, ongoing, and strategic priorities.
  • Communicates expectation and belief that employee is resourceful and capable of solving problems when manager is not around.

“Managers get what they inspect, not what they expect.”

Results oriented coaching requires rigor from coach and employee. Contracting clear, concrete next steps that moves the action down the field is the DNA of performance coaching conversations. ROI:

  • Builds a culture of co-ownership and accountability.
  • Drives incremental, measured business results.
  • Inspires and encourages employees to perform at their best.
  • Allows management to measure coaching efficacy.

Managers who consistently apply these four vital few coaching skills can expect, over time, surprisingly impressive results, and why not? Talented employees who are supported by helpful and performance focused managers naturally play a bigger game.

At the heart of it, the 80/20 rule helps you work smarter, not harder.

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Keep it simple, keep it focused, and definitely keep it inspiring! –