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The Dos and Don’ts of coaching one-to-one

Coaching is a powerful tool every manager can use. Everyone can be a coach and use the power of asking questions.

What is coaching?

According to CIPD coaching is based on one-to-one conversations to enhance an individual’s skills, knowledge, or work performance.

Why do we need to care?

By the IOC, 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence. Over 70% enjoy improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. And 86% of companies report that they recouped their investment in coaching and more (source: ICF 2009).

Plus, this is another working technique in every leader’s kit. So, what are the ‘Dos and Don'ts' we should remember before we schedule a one-to-one meeting with a team member?


Be prepared for a meeting.

Define what you want to discuss. List all the questions to ask, and clear your calendar for this time, so as not to be disturbed. Every employee deserves your full presence and respect. Distraction can ruin even the best conversation.

Communicate your understanding of the goal of this session and find agreement.

Coaching is a very practical tool. To utilise it 100% you will need to be very clear about the expectations from this meeting. And you should ask your coachee what goal they want to achieve.


Listening is the key skill we need to prove while coaching people. Yes, you may not use all your questions from the list, but it’s worth understanding your coachee, especially if they need your support.

Ask open questions to encourage a coachee to speak more.

Even if you experience silence, give it a moment. It’s ok not to speak all the time and hold a dialogue. Some people need more time to think and reflect. Give it to them.

Always summarize the outcome of the session.

It can be an action plan or a promise to themselves. Anything that they will commit to doing towards their target.


Don’t' talk too much.

Mind your speaking at the level of approximately 20%, so your coachee would communicate 80% of the time. The whole idea of coaching is to help a person find their own way. Don’t try to guide them, suggest your ideas, your own experience. This is all about them now.

Don’t ask closed questions.

Hearing ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ will not be helpful and your coaching session can end up being quiet. Transform your closed questions into open ones to get a more detailed reply.

Don’t stick to your questions, even if your coachee needs to focus on the area they find important.

There is no need to tick the box of your plan, this is not your intention.

There are many other ways to make your meeting meaningful. But these basic rules will help you to stay focused and show respect to your coachee.

The questions below are examples. You can use them when an employee feels demotivated to understand the reasons behind it:

•How do you feel at work?

•What makes you feel so?

•What can I do as a manager so you would feel XX at work?

•What would you do if you were me?

Every person has their own story. Listen to them, ask them and support them to resolve any issues they may have at work. I hope this article helped you to understand what is coaching and to find your unique coaching style.

WhizzMind supports managers in advancing their skills by coaching and training. Message me to have a chat about leadership skills. Or book a free call to understand how WhizzMind can help you with your challenge.


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