Coaching with feedback

helping your team members to grow


“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost self-esteem of their personnel.
If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.” Sam Walton

As a leader, one of the most important roles is to coach the team to do its best as a team and as individuals. By doing this, the leader will help the team to make better decisions, solve problems, learn new skills and otherwise progress their careers. When leaders coach their team members, this may or may not apply. It's more powerful for people to draw conclusions for themselves, rather than having these conclusions thrust upon them. On the other side, a team leader will often have expert knowledge to offer. It's the daily job to guide team members to make decisions that are best for them. This paper shows how influential coaching can be for team members’ growth.

Coaching – Overview

Coaching is a relatively new discipline; at least in its present form. The coaching field is the result of the convergence of several developmental strands dating back as far as the 1950s (report Results Coaching System). However, it is only in recent times that coaching has been recognised as forming a largely cohesive set of principles, knowledge, and skills. The emergence of coaching as a popular profession began in the United States in the late 1980s. Since this time the proliferation of coach training schools, close to 100 in the USA, for example, and the establishment of the International Coach Federation (ICF) has led to a dramatic increase in the numbers of professional coaches worldwide. Formed in 1995, today the ICF is the leading global organization, with more than 20,000 members (December 2012), dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high professional standards, providing independent certification, and building a network of credentialed coaches (ICF website).
The personal development movement has created an optimal environment for the acceptance of coaching in the wider community. Individualised coaching is a logical next step from mass participation in personal development and life skills training programs. This movement has been with us at least since the 1950s, arguably earlier. Often believed to have begun with Normal Vincent Peale's “The power of positive thinking” the movement began to proliferate in the 1980s in literature and courses offered to the general public and is now a feature of modern life. The key principles of the personal development movement have been:

  • A move toward increasing self-awareness, including work on the “filters” by which we see the world, our expectations and assumptions
  • A focus on accepting responsibility for one's actions
  • The idea of having choice in our lives.
Researches about Coaching

There are interesting insights from researches made by American Management Association presented in “Coaching- A Global Study of Successful Practices”: Coaching is associated with higher performance and Coaching is primarily aimed at boosting individual performance.

“Coaching- A Global Study of Successful Practices” AMA

Exhibit 1 – “Coaching- A Global Study of Successful Practices” AMA

Improving Individual Productivity

The survey found that, although leadership development is among the top two reasons for using coaching, the desire to improve individual “performance/productivity” is actually the most widely cited purpose. There is, of course, clearly some overlap among these purposes. After all, organizations develop leaders not for leadership's sake but for the purpose of improving both individual and organizational performance. Individual performance, productivity, and development, however, seem to be the higher priorities.

Boosting Employee Engagement

Employees who receive coaching are often successful senior leaders who are facing career challenges as a result of organizational or industry changes. Many experts agree that a plan to capitalize on executives’ strengths—what got them to positions of prominence in the first place—is more useful than to focus on shortfalls (Buckingham & Clifton, 2001). So, it is not so surprising that “boosting employee engagement” is cited by about 41% of respondents as the purpose for which their organizations use coaching. Clearly, the stigma of coaching as a consequence for poor performance is changing, as evidenced by the fact that almost as many respondents view coaching as an engagement tool as they do a way to address workplace problems.

Have a Clear Reason for Using Coaching

Another important finding from the study was that each of the various purposes for coaching was significantly correlated to the success of coaching.

“Coaching– A Global Study of Successful Practices” AMA

Exhibit 2 — “Coaching– A Global Study of Successful Practices” AMA


The more a company has a clear reason for using a coach, the more likely that its coaching process will be viewed as successful. For example, the strongest correlation was found between improving individual performance and coaching success, meaning that organizations that strongly indicated that they used coaches as a means to improve the productivity of individual employees also tended to report more success with their coaching programs.

Use Coaching to Help the Right People

According to a review of the coaching literature, there are four main groups of employees who are consistently on the receiving end of executive coaching: high potentials, problem employees, executives, and expatriates. The reasons for seeking coaching probably differ depending on which group is being coached.

“Coaching —Global Study of Successful Practices”AMA

Exhibit 3 – “Coaching —Global Study of Successful Practices”AMA


An analysis of the AMA/Institute for Corporate Productivity Coaching Survey (2008) showed that the largest percentage of respondents (60%) reported that their organization uses coaching either a lot or a great deal for high potentials. Just over 41% of organizations reported using coaching frequently or a great deal for executives. Problem employees were cited as the recipients of coaching frequently or a great deal of the time by 37% of respondents. As mentioned earlier, many of the earliest coaching programs dealt exclusively with under-performing employees as an attempt to save a career. Now, however, it is more likely to be seen as a way to groom talented but untested young managers or to help executives build on existing strengths. The group least frequently reported to be the recipient of executive coaching were expatriates. Only 7% of respondents reported this group received coaching either frequently or a great deal. This number is surprisingly low given that 55% of our sample was either a global or multinational organization.


Coaching and Feedback

Coaching is a useful way of developing people's skills and abilities, and of boosting performance (MindTolls). It can also help deal with issues and challenges before they become major problems. A coaching session will typically take place as a conversation between the coach and the coachee (person being coached), and it focuses on helping the coachee discover answers for themselves. After all, people are much more likely to engage with solutions that they have come up with themselves, rather than those that are forced upon them. Coaching can be a better way of helping people view their own actions and reactions objectively, so it's useful for helping people to build self-awareness. Developing self-awareness is important for better relationships and for a more fulfilling life, both in the workplace and at home. With a good understanding of how we relate to others, we can adjust our behavior so that we deal with them positively. By understanding what upsets us, we can improve our self-control. And by understanding our weaknesses, we can learn how to manage them, and reach our goals despite them.

Principles of Effective Coaching:

1. Maintain and Enhance Self-Esteem
Your employees need to feel respected and have a sense of self worth in order to be motivated, confident, innovative and committed. Employees who feel valued are more willing to share responsibility, confront challenges, and adapt well to change. It will be your job as a coach to provide useful responses that are empathic, supportive and exploratory.

2. Listen Actively and Respond with Concern
Listening is a powerful way to build trust and improve communication. To listen actively means to pay careful attention to what the employee is saying. You can demonstrate that you are actively listening by being attentive and maintaining eye contact. You can show understanding and empathy by paraphrasing or reflecting back what was expressed. This encourages your employees to share their feelings and ideas with you.

3. Ask for Help and Encourage Involvement
Employees want to have a say in how they do their work. They want to be involved in decisions that affect them. Involvement increases the chance that innovative ideas and solutions will surface. It is a sign of strength for a supervisor to ask employees for their suggestions on how to solve a problem or improve performance.

4. Share Thoughts, Feelings, and Rationale
Employees want to know how you're feeling about them in relation to their performance. By being open with them, you'll encourage them to trust you, to be open in return, and to accept responsibility for improving. By sharing the rationale for your decisions, you will help them understand how their work contributes to the goals of the department/unit and the university as a whole.

5. Provide Support without Removing Responsibility
As a supervisor/manager of others, you are in a special position to provide support to your employees. This may include advising, mentoring, and providing resources, reassigning duties, and clearing roadblocks.

Feedback is information about an observed behavior that can be either appreciation or constructive. It's like holding a mirror up to your employee so he or she can see what impact a specific behavior is having, and when a change in behavior will lead to better results. Employees want to hear how they are doing and providing them with regular coaching and feedback will keep employees engaged and motivated and can increase their job satisfaction. Feedback can be incredibly useful if people want to grow. The purpose of giving feedback is to improve the situation of performance. Similar to coaching, feedback should be part of day-to-day interaction with employees. Give feedback whenever an employee:

  • Does something that is particularly “right.”
  • Seems to be doing something that is not quite “right” given the performance objectives and goals you've established.
  • Does something that has an impact – positive or negative – on others.
  • Could be doing something different to create greater or more positive impact.

Coaching uses the feedback process to direct and redirect work efforts and behavior. Coaching provides this direction in the context of a relationship wherein the manager attempts to help the employee reach his or her full potential. Most leaders are aware that the way they coach can play a big role in ensuring their team's success. But, when it comes to giving feedback, many don't know how to coach, and simply resort to telling others how to improve, which isn't coaching.

Combining coaching and feedback is a powerful way of motivating people to improve their performance. Used wisely and with skill, coaching based feedback can help people reach their potential. Ongoing feedback and coaching is used to reinforce appropriate behavior, to teach the employee new skills, to motivate employee to pursue higher levels of performance, to mentor employees, as well as to correct performance deficiencies.

Thomas G. Grane “The Heart of Coaching”

Exhibit 4 – Thomas G. Grane “The Heart of Coaching”


The GROW MODEL - Model for Coaching Session

The GROW Model is a simple powerful framework for structuring any coaching sessions. The model was originally developed in the 1980s by Sir John Whitmore.

The GROW Model is a simple four-step process that helps you structure coaching sessions with team members.GROW is acronym that stands for:  G- Goal;  R- Reality;  O- Options;  W- Will.
A good way of thinking about the GROW Model is to think about how you'd plan a journey.First, you decide where you are going (GOAL), and establish where you currently are (REALITY). Then you explore various routes (OPTIONS) to your destination. In the final step, you ensure that you're committed (WILL) to making the journey and are prepared for the obstacles that you could meet on the way.

GROW questions:
  What would you like to happen?
  How would you like it to be?
  How would it look three months from now?
  How important is this to you?
  How do you feel about this?
  What will you do differently now?
  What steps could you take?
  Is there anything else?
  What will you do about this?
  How will you do that?
GROW Model

Exhibit 5 GROW Model


Coaching can be a better way of helping people view their own actions and reactions objectively so it's useful for helping people to build self-awareness and grow.

What the coach can bring to the learning experience is insight, a desire to help, genuine concern, and feedback.

-Coaching involves a coach who cares very deeply about the welfare and success of another person.

-An effective coach uses a wide variety of behaviors to challenge, support, encourage, enable, guide, and shape the thoughts and actions of the person being coached.

- The aim of the coach is to be there when needed but also to know when it's time for the person being coached to step out on his or her own.

- People learn from trying and from making mistakes.

- Never forget the value of offering genuine, sincere appreciative feedback and coaching.

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgement. Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others? Martin Luther King, JR.


Additional Resources

Report Results Coaching System. (2004). Available at

ICF – International Coach Federation

“Coaching- A Global Study of Successful Practices” American Management Association


Thomas G. Grane “The Heart of Coaching”

Tony Stoltzfus “Coaching Questions”

©2013 Agnieszka Maria Gasperini
Originally published as a part of 2013 PMI Global Congress Proceedings–New Orleans, Louisiana



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