When you think of your favorite coach, do you think of somebody who leads by example? Someone who motivates with words? Perhaps a person who helps you identify your strengths and improve your weaknesses?

In development shops, coaches are a key part of helping the whole team achieve its goals. Whether you coach in the same manner as your favorite coach, or have a style all your own, your guidance is critical as your team moves toward higher levels of performance.

The fact is, there are many different ways to help a team improve: No singular coaching style is superior to the others. With that in mind, what do development coaches need to know? Here are four concepts to internalize that will help you and your team experience greater success:

1. Recognize that each team member is different.

Recognizing and understanding differences among team members can help a coach communicate most effectively with each individual. For instance, identifying personality profiles can help you determine how each team member’s mind works—which, in turn, can help you share information in the most effective way.

2. Ask more questions than you answer.

Answering questions may be the fastest way to solve a current problem, but in the long run, the team member who asks the question only learns to depend on his or her coach for answers. In order to help team members function optimally on their own, coaches should learn to ask the right questions. This will help team members arrive at the answers—and the processes for finding answers—on their own.

3. Focus mostly on instructive feedback.

One of a coach’s most challenging responsibilities is to provide feedback. There are several different ways to do this, and most are appropriate at one time or another. But the kind of feedback that tends to be most difficult to provide is instructive feedback. Practice finding opportunities to help team members perceive problems/opportunities, identify and agree on solutions, and take action toward improvement.

4. Be content, but not complacent.

Coaches are responsible for motivating their team through rewards and positivity when work is being done well—but just because a goal is being achieved now does not mean that there isn’t room for improvement. As you see your team achieve more, ask yourself, what should we aim for next? Have the changes we have made so far been effective? There are always opportunities for better performance; as a leader, you get the privilege of guiding your team toward its next big success.


In addition to these concepts, the most important quality coaches can have is eagerness to improve themselves. To learn more about these skills, identify your own coaching and management style, and practice important conversations, attend a public offering of Elevate: Coaching Essentials for Managers.

Elevate: Coaching Essentials for Managers