employee coaching
Training & Learning

2024 Employee Coaching Guide for Teams and L&D Leaders

Everyone has days where things just aren't going right, maybe a project was going really well, and suddenly the number of deliverables increased the day before the due date. Or perhaps it's getting stuck on the last step of a project and not being able to figure out how to get over the hurdle.

No matter how hard everyone tries to do their job well, sometimes life throws curve balls that knock them off course. Having the support of a coach can help your people push through these issues and solve tough problems when they’re feeling stuck.

What is employee coaching?

Employee coaching is the process of developing employees' job performance and helping them reach their professional goals. In short, coaches help employees set goals and find ways to achieve them. The ultimate goal of this partnership is to help the employee succeed within the organization.

Coaches help employees develop skills that will be useful to them as they work toward their goals—whether that goal is becoming better at a specific skill or preparing to move forward in their career. It’s about more than just enabling employees to learn how to do their jobs better—it's about making them feel better equipped, more confident, and happier in their job.

Why is coaching employees important?

Employee coaching is important because it helps people grow in their jobs and reach their goals. Coaches guide employees to set and meet goals, which enables them to perform better at their work and prepares them for the future. This kind of support does more than teach job skills. It boosts confidence and satisfaction levels in the workplace. When employees have good coaches, they learn more and feel more connected to their jobs. By focusing on each person's needs and goals, employee coaching helps the entire company do better.

Coaching vs training

Employee coaching and training share some characteristics, but they have different methods and purposes. Training is a more structured process and usually concentrates on teaching people how to do something specific. For example, you could take a training course on how to create pivot tables in Excel or another tool that the company uses regularly.

On the other hand, employee coaching focuses on helping people adopt new behaviors rather than simply teaching them how to perform a task. For instance, imagine your manager has asked you to start running meetings but you find it difficult to lead under pressure. Your manager would coach you through the process of facilitating meetings by asking what types of situations are most challenging for you and modeling ways for you to work around those challenges.

Coaching vs mentoring

Similar to coaching, mentorship creates a relationship where you learn from someone else’s experience, but it’s more about absorbing a mentor’s knowledge and less about receiving direct instruction. A mentor's job is to advise people based on their personal experiences, but it's up to the person being mentored to decide how they want to apply that advice.

Related: The What, Why, and How of Mentorship Programs at Work

Coaches help employees develop skills that will be useful to them as they work toward their goals.

The benefits of employee coaching

Unlocking employee potential

Employee coaching isn’t just for executives or those facing career challenges. Any employee, regardless of their role or skill level, can benefit from coaching. It can also help uncovers and nurtures hidden talents, helping team members to accomplish tasks and reach their goals.

Creating a safe and growth-oriented environment

Employee coaching fosters a safe space for taking calculated risks and professional growth. This environment encourages employees to learn and improve, leading to greater job satisfaction and better employee retention.

Skill development and problem-solving

Effective employee coaching equips employees with new skills and tools, vital for their career progression. It provides opportunities to tackle challenges, building confidence and spurring innovation and engagement in daily tasks.

Boosting organizational productivity

When employees are engaged and less stressed, productivity rises. Employee coaching contributes to this by enhancing employee engagement, thus positively impacting the organization's bottom line.

Promoting a collaborative and feedback-rich culture

Employee coaching creates a culture of feedback loops - where feedback is regularly exchanged in a positive and transparent manner. This collaborative environment is essential for continuous improvement and healthy workplace dynamics.


Employee coaching helps your organization’s bottom line by increasing employee engagement and productivity, while decreasing work-related stress and burnout potential.

When should you coach an employee

Employee coaching is a powerful tool in a manager's toolkit, but it's most effective when applied at the right moments. Here are some key situations when coaching can be particularly impactful:

Embracing new roles or challenges

When an employee steps into a new position or faces unfamiliar tasks, coaching can help. For instance, a newly promoted manager might benefit from employee coaching to develop leadership skills and navigate their new responsibilities effectively.

Career progression

Employees eyeing upward mobility in their career paths can gain a lot from coaching. For example, an employee coach could help someone get better at presenting to senior management and "managing up”. A coach can guide them on crafting concise messages that show direct impact on the goals that executives care about. They might also role-play scenarios and share feedback. It helps them acquire the skills and confidence needed to advance in their career.

Enhancing performance

If an employee's performance is not up to par, coaching can be a constructive way to address this. For example, if an employee is struggling with time management, their coach could help them create specific and measurable goals like starting their work day at set times and completing tasks within set deadlines. Their coach could also help them develop a personalized action plan that might include:

  • Prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance.
  • Breaking down projects into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Setting specific, measurable objectives for each day or week.
  • Allocating time blocks for focused work.
  • Reviewing progress regularly to adjust strategies as needed

It's not just about pointing out flaws but collaborating to find solutions and strategies for improvement.

Skill enhancement

For employees keen on learning new skills or sharpening existing ones, coaching serves as a practical and personalized support system. For example, consider an employee aiming to improve their presentation skills. Through employee coaching, they can receive specific advice, practice presenting in a safe environment, and get constructive feedback, greatly enhancing their learning experience.

Navigating organizational changes

In times of significant company changes, such as mergers or strategy shifts, coaching helps employees adapt. Imagine a company going through a merger where employees may face new processes and team dynamics. Employee coaching can provide them with strategies and support to navigate these changes smoothly, ensuring they remain focused and productive.

Improving employee engagement

When someone shows signs of disengagement, employee coaching can help rediscover their motivation and commitment. It's a way to reignite their passion for the job and realign their goals with the organization's objectives.

The role of an employee coach

Coaches help employees set goals and find ways to accomplish them by providing support, learning opportunities, and accountability. They guide employees through the ups and downs of work and navigate them to greater success by helping them figure out their strengths and weaknesses.

One of the most important parts of a coach's job is to help employees understand themselves better. Coaches listen to people's stories about themselves and their careers, then ask questions that bring out their values, strengths, past accomplishments, and vision for their future. They use all this information to help people create a powerful plan for moving toward their goals.

A good coach:

  • Listens for specific details about how someone wants to grow and creates appropriate goals and action plans around those aspirations
  • Asks open-ended questions to get to the root of what an employee is trying to achieve and encourages them to come up with their own solutions
  • Provides thoughtful and actionable feedback on how well the person is doing when it comes to achieving their objectives
  • Keeps an employee on track by giving them direction and motivating them when they feel discouraged or blocked
  • Holds the person accountable for reaching their goals while offering support and guidance along the way

Types of employee coaching in the workplace

Employee coaching comes in many forms—it can be relaxed and informal, or it can be more structured. It can even be a combination of the two—casual enough to allow the coach and employee to build a connection and still structured enough to keep both people on task and moving forward.

Differentiating between employee coaching types is useful when deciding which approach will best help your employees learn the skills they need to succeed.

One-on-one employee coaching

One-on-One Coaching is a coaching relationship where someone more knowledgeable or skilled works with an employee to provide constructive feedback and direction. This method allows a coach to spend time observing a person's work and habits to determine how they can adapt and grow.

Team coaching

Team coaching helps a group of people work toward the same goal while improving performance. A coach observes a team in its normal work environment and provides feedback and suggestions for improvement to the entire group, individually, or both. This method of employee coaching can reduce conflicts because there’s a facilitator to make sure everyone is heard and aligned on the same goal.

Peer-to-peer employee coaching

Peer-to-peer coaching is an informal method where employees share their experiences with each other to boost each other's skills and knowledge. This works especially well in situations where one employee is trying to learn a new skill. Anyone can participate in peer coaching, and it can be as simple as connecting two people to observe each other, ask questions, and provide feedback.

Performance coaching

Performance coaching gives team members a deeper understanding of their job requirements, identifies competencies needed to meet those requirements, and uncovers ways to improve their performance. A big part of employee performance coaching is helping employees change behaviors that are preventing them from reaching their full potential and creating roadmaps for future professional development.

In-the-moment employee coaching

In-the-moment coaching is an informal type of employee coaching where someone—usually a manager—helps an employee through a situation in real time. For example, let's say an employee is at a team meeting where a big project is being discussed and their manager notices the employee looks extremely nervous. Immediately after the meeting, the manager can take the employee aside (in-person or virtually) to talk about it and ask questions like, "I noticed you looked really nervous during the team meeting. What's going on, and how can I help?"


Employee coaching example

Here's a real-world example of employee coaching at work in 360Learning.

Employee coaching at 360Learning
Employee coaching at 360Learning

At 360Learning, we demonstrate our commitment to employee development through initiatives like the Women@360 Development Coaching program. This program is specifically designed to empower women in our organization to ascend into leadership roles. It involves personalized one-to-one coaching sessions that focus on critical areas such as managing remote teams, honing listening skills, and navigating internal mobility with success. These sessions are tailored to address the unique challenges and opportunities women face in leadership. Participants engage in practical exercises, receive feedback, and develop strategies to effectively lead in diverse settings.

How to coach employees

Adding employee coaching inside your workplace can be done gradually and without an enormous amount of effort up front. Your team can use a variety of methods to get started:

Incorporate employee coaching into your 1-on-1s

Incorporate employee coaching into your 1-on-1s. Management and leadership can take some time during each meeting to brainstorm with employees about how they might tackle a specific challenge they’re facing. This can be a personal or professional challenge, like improving communication skills or getting help with a specific project.

1:1 coaching is built into 360Learning’s platform
1:1 coaching is built into 360Learning’s platform

360Learning's coaching solutions are designed to enhance 1-on-1 employee coaching sessions. With its focus on collaborative learning, the platform offers tools that allow for a more structured and effective coaching experience. Managers can use these features to brainstorm with employees on challenges they face, whether personal or professional. The platform's employee coaching tools are designed to facilitate asynchronous communication and feedback , goal setting, and performance improvement, making it easier to address specific needs and objectives even when teams are spread across different regions and time zones.

Encourage colleagues to share their knowledge

Encourage colleagues to share their knowledge. Some people feel most comfortable learning from coworkers who are in the same role as them or have similar experiences. Encourage employees to create peer mentorship programs within their teams. These are great opportunities for more experienced employees to teach and guide those who have less experience.

360Learning’s employee coaching solutions help teams share knowledge with peers
360Learning’s employee coaching solutions help teams share knowledge with peers

360Learning's employee coaching solutions make it easy for everyone to share what they know. With videos in the newsfeed and courses, the best ideas from top workers can be seen by all. This helps everyone learn more and do better.

Develop courses that teach employee coaching skills

Develop courses that teach employee coaching skills. Design at least a few courses that teach the basics of coaching and provide a variety of coaching tools and techniques. This helps spark more interest in employee coaching and gives those interested an introduction to the craft.

Creating courses is easy with 360Learning’s AI-powered authoring tool
Creating courses is easy with 360Learning’s AI-powered authoring tool

Developing courses on employee coaching skills is easy with 360Learning's AI-powered authoring tools. The platform features streamline content creation, enabling you to transform existing documents into full courses with a click. It's the fastest way to equip your team with employee coaching skills.

Pilot an employee coaching program

Pilot an employee coaching program with a select group of people. If you have the bandwidth, consider creating a coaching program for a small set of employees. This will give you a blueprint for a more comprehensive program by learning what works and what doesn't before rolling it out to everyone.

Related: How Opendoor Uses Peer Mentoring to Meet Learners Where They Are

Employee coaching tips

After considering the various aspects of employee coaching covered so far, here are some additional tips that can enhance your coaching efforts:

  • Leverage strengths: Focus on identifying and using an employee's strengths. This approach not only boosts their confidence but also contributes more effectively to team goals.
  • Adopt a growth mindset: Encourage a culture where learning from mistakes is valued. This mindset fosters resilience and a willingness to try new approaches.
  • Regular feedback: Offer regular, constructive feedback. This helps employees understand their progress and areas for improvement.
  • Encourage self-reflection: Motivate employees to reflect on their experiences. This self-awareness can be a powerful tool for personal and professional development.
  • Tailor your approach: Recognize that each employee is unique. Tailor your coaching style to suit individual learning styles and needs.
  • Set clear objectives: Make sure that both you and the employee understand the goals of the coaching sessions. Clear objectives guide the employee coaching journey and measure progress.
  • Foster accountability: Encourage employees to take responsibility for their growth. This includes setting their own goals and working towards them.
  • Promote open communication: Create an environment where employees feel safe to express their thoughts and concerns. Psychological safety is key to understanding and effectively addressing their needs.

By incorporating these tips into your employee coaching process, you can create a more impactful and positive coaching experience for your employees.

Coaching employees who have a negative attitude

Coaching an employee who exhibits a negative attitude can be challenging. Here's a practical checklist for managers to effectively navigate this process and foster a positive change.

  • Understand the root cause: Have an open conversation to understand their concerns.
  • Empathetic listening: Show empathy and genuinely listen to their issues.
  • Set clear goals: Collaborate on setting realistic and positive goals.
  • Focus on strengths: Highlight their achievements and strengths.
  • Encourage perspective shift: Guide them to focus on solutions, not just problems.
  • Provide regular feedback: Offer positive and constructive feedback consistently.
  • Show patience and support: Maintain patience and offer support throughout the process.
  • Track progress: Regularly check in to assess progress and adjust goals as needed.

L&D’s role in employee coaching

Employee coaching and training are becoming increasingly intertwined. Organizations are actively adopting learning cultures and gearing up for a future where upskilling is essential for an organization's survival. A recent study by IBM estimated that 40% of the global workforce–1.4 billion people–will need to reskill as a result of implementing AI and automation by 2026.

In this new climate, L&D teams will play a more central role in creating cultures of continuous learning—research shows that 7 out of 10 leaders consider developing people to be a top priority. This role includes helping employees develop their skills not just during training, but over the long term as part of ongoing skill development across all roles.

It’s no secret that L&D teams already have a lot on their plate—you don’t need to take on the responsibility of becoming coaches for your entire organization. Instead, play the role of facilitator by listening to the needs of your employees and connecting them to others who can coach them through their needs and challenges. For example, some of your people may feel stuck in their careers or want to switch roles within the company but don’t know how to go about it. Listen to their concerns and challenges, then pair them with someone who's currently in a role they're interested in. That way, they can see if switching roles is something they really want, and they can get direct coaching before they even start in the new position.

Anyone in your organization can be a coach, so facilitating can be as straightforward as finding a volunteer who’s a few chapters ahead in their professional journey and open to have regular coaching conversations with another employee.

Related: 30 Free Employee Coaching Templates to Build Your Own Program

peer feedback asset

The template you need to make sure your peer feedback isn't shooting you in the foot.