More organizations are recognizing that coaching adds immense value to the way in which employees progress in their careers, feel supported and valued at work. Setting professional goals with your team members and working on their career development is going to enrich your relationships with each individual as well as your overall team culture. What sets good managers apart from great managers is that the latter go over and above to support employees in their professional development. Coaching is a way to support your team by encouraging long-term growth. 

It’s important that as a leader you take an active role in both guiding and supporting your team. Coaching gives employees the opportunity to address any concerns they may have and victories that are important to celebrate. Your first one-on-one coaching meeting will take some planning and consideration, which is why this article is going to explain what a one-on-one coaching meeting is, what the benefits are, some tips, and a complete one-on-one coaching template. 

What is a one-on-one coaching meeting? 

A one-on-one coaching meeting allows a leader to touch base with their employees to ask about their day-to-day responsibilities, guide and motivate them. In your first one-on-one coaching meeting, you can establish a baseline understanding of where your team member is in terms of their professional goals and how they want to approach their career development. You should talk about expectations, how they want to grow, what kinds of challenges they face, and how they want to move forward. From there, your coaching meetings become more like status updates or check-ins, to see how the employee is doing and how you may be able to support and guide them. 

Pro tip

Use a meeting management tool like Fellow for your one-on-one meetings to collaborate on talking points, exchange feedback, and have engaging conversations.

What are the benefits of one-on-one coaching? 

The benefits of one-on-one coaching work bi-directionally, meaning that they benefit managers and employees. First, a lot of employees won’t feel comfortable bringing up issues or challenges in a team meeting, nor will they want to discuss personal matters in front of their co-workers. 

One-on-one coaching meetings give employees the time and appropriate space to discuss personal goals, issues, challenges and a way forward. This means that team meetings will be more efficient and productive so that you can achieve organizational goals with more ease. One-on-one coaching meetings are also mutually beneficial because employees who feel supported in their journey to achieve their goals are much more likely to stay with an organization that is giving them the time and guidance that they deserve. This way, you retain your talent and develop it even further. Meeting agendas are going to help you and your team get even more out of your one-on-one coaching meeting by keeping you organized and on track. 

Suggested topics for your one-on-one coaching template

Meeting agenda templates make it possible to achieve consistency across all of your meetings so that nothing is left out. Similar to a skip level meeting, the one-on-one coaching meeting happens with all of your employees, even if they report to a manager within your department. Here are a few things that you should definitely include in your one-on-one coaching template: 

1 What’s going well? 

Start by asking your employee about what’s going well for them at work. Ask follow-up questions, such as what the employee thinks could be improved about the process or what successes could be replicated in the future.

2 What could be improved?

As a leader, you know that there’s always room to improve, whether it be a personal skill or an operational context. Ask your employees if they have seen any improvements lately and if there are any aspects of their day-to-day work that simply aren’t working.  

3 What are some challenges you’re experiencing? 

Make sure that you ask your employees about what kinds of challenges they’ve been facing lately. You can ask about their frustrations and any roadblocks that they’ve encountered. Ask them about what may be getting in the way of their professional growth or goals. From there, ask your employee about what their next steps will be and how you can help them get there.

4 Where do you see yourself in the next 6 months? 

Asking your employees about where they see themselves in their role (or within the organization) in the next six months is going to give you a pretty good idea of their professional goals. Inquire about which skills they’re currently working on, what they’re reading, who they like working with and perhaps who they might like to learn from or shadow on the job. 

5 How can I help? 

Lastly, ask your employees how you can best support and help them. Identify if your employees are still on their way to achieving their goals, whether they’re struggling or if there are any tools that they could be offered, and overall, what would help them achieve success most effectively. This shows that you care and helps build trust. You can also create some action items so that the employee remains on track, completing tangible items that bring them closer to achieving their goals. 

One-on-one coaching template

Coaching tips for managers 

There’s an absolute abundance of coaching tips for managers, but we thought we’d pull from business management theory. Coaching as a concept is beginning to be studied much more and many models of coaching have now been developed and tested across several industries. One well-established and common model for helping leaders develop coaching skills is called ‘The GROW Model’ by Sir John Whitmore (2002). 

G- Goals 
R- Reality
O- Options 
W- Wrap- Up

Let’s take a closer look at this framework from a book titled ‘Employee well-being support’ by Gladeana McMahon (2008), who is a three-time award winning Transformational Personal Development Coach, Author, and Registered Therapist:

Goals

Setting goals is intrinsic to coaching – if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know if you have achieved that which you set out to? The coach should ask specific questions of the employee in order to make sure that the goal is in the best interests of the employee, those affected by their work and who the employee interacts with the most at work. 

Reality

Your employee needs to have a realistic grasp of where they are now, where they are starting from, and whether their goal is a realistic goal and can actually be achieved. Make sure to ask for their insight on their current reality and then work with them to identify what you can work on in their current role that will actually make sense for their day-to-day responsibilities and tasks. 

Options

The coaching manager should guide the employee in thinking about a number of ways to achieve their goal(s) and give the employee the power to decide how they’ll pursue this. While leaders need to manage and sometimes direct an individual when using the coaching process, the manager does not aim to lead the individual but more so assist the person in exploring their possibilities so they can decide which option is best for them. The philosophical position is that by doing this, the employee is much more likely to develop creative ways of approaching issues that can be successfully applied in the future, without the need to resume the coaching process and without direct input from the manager. In this way, this part of the coaching process promotes self-directed learning and autonomy.

Wrap Up

An employee will only achieve a goal if they feel motivated to do so. For his reason, the manager assists the individual to look at the possible obstacles that they may encounter and how these roadblocks can be overcome. Moreover, the manager helps the employee consider whether there is a secondary gain to be had if the employee doesn’t end up achieving the goal. For example, it may be more comfortable to remain in the current position than make the effort it takes to achieve the goal that the employee had in mind. They may not have fully considered what it would take to actually achieve that goal. Make sure that you save some time for meeting questions after you’ve wrapped up. 

Gladeana McMahon follows the information and insights she offers on The Grow Model by explaining why it actually works: 

“The GROW Model works because it ensures that there is nothing which might prevent the client from going for the goal. It checks whether the goal itself fits with the individual’s capabilities, ambitions, personal and professional values and establishes whether the client needs to change current behaviours or requires new skills in order to successfully obtain their desired goal(s).”

Parting advice 

Coaching isn’t a short-term solution. Coaching skills are built and practiced over time, which helps to develop a coaching culture, which means moving away from a hierarchical command model and into one which encourages autonomy, trust and a self-directed way of learning. Over time, coaching also encourages independent working, accountability, and responsibility amongst team members. Don’t wait for performance reviews to guide and support your employees- make your coaching conversations more frequent so that you can engage in more effective communication and be more aware of what kinds of career goals your team is working towards.