11 Effective Coaching Models for Managers

11 Effective Coaching Models for Managers

If your business doesn’t provide a coaching program to attract and grow talent, consider making it part of your workplace today. In-house coaching is more comfortable and affordable than seeking outside training or consultations. And thanks to the rapid adoption of remote conferences and communication software, today’s coaching is not bound by the same office or team any more.

Coaching can be applied to nearly any position, and comes with significant benefits. Research has shown that dynamic sales coaching, for example, can lead to 28% higher win rates.

However, not paying attention to coaching techniques can have serious consequences: More than 60% of sales workers reported that they would be more likely to quit their job if their manager was a poor coach. It’s estimated that around 75% of organizations are wasting their resources simply because they haven’t yet set up a formalized process for coaching. 

How does that change? By choosing an effective coaching model for your organization, and incorporating that type of coaching into your policies. Let’s look at the options. 

Manager presenting to attentive colleagues in a modern office with a brick wall background.

What is a Coaching Model?

Coaching is the practice of helping employees overcome difficulties, address performance issues, and learn new skills. It’s an important part of any manager’s toolkit, and a common part of leadership in business. However, many organizations still keep this process informal, with each manager taking their own approach to coaching and how they prefer to communicate. 

Standardized coaching is more efficient, and can help spread good coaching skills around the company. One of the most common options is choosing a coaching model to train managers with. A good coaching model offers instructions for a particular coaching session, a walkthrough that can be used for those new to coaching to help produce results. There are a number of coaching models, some designed for certain departments or industries, and others made for more general use.

Why is Coaching Employees Important?

In addition to the statistics we mentioned above, coaching is a foundational exercise for improving a workplace and facilitating employees. Without coaching, employees may not be able to learn or improve on their own. With coaching, employees not only improve, but learn long-term skills they can use to analyze situations and find paths forward on their own. That’s especially beneficial for sales, customer service, and other related tasks.

Along the way, the process of coaching helps leaders and workers connect and understand each other more effectively. It provides time and opportunity to offer not only ideas about improvement, but also affirmation and communication about workplace culture.

Coaching also plays a role in upskilling and talent growth. It helps employees qualify for more responsibilities, higher positions, and better compensation. Companies with good coaching programs often have a healthier, happier workplace than they otherwise would. And from a strategic level, coaching helps companies prepare for the future and meet the goals they have set for metrics like sales, new customers, and much more.

Coaching Models for Managers

Picking the best coaching model may look a little intimidating at first due to the acronyms and often-technical nature of the process. However, a little research is a big help to understanding models. Let’s start with some basics about the best coaching models, and where they may be the right fit.

Solution-Focused Coaching This type of coaching is frequently used to tackle a specific problem that the organization has noted. It’s based primarily on questions: The questions themselves can vary based on the situation, but are designed to lead an employee to solutions and changes. 

For example, a coach may ask something like, “Imagine if you started getting 30% more positive reviews from your customers. What do you think you would be doing differently? Is there something specific that you can see yourself doing in that situation?” 

This question-based format can be as open-ended as necessary, and is excellent at encouraging employees to think for themselves and take ownership of their growth. Questions can also be on certain skills or performance metrics as necessary, making it a very flexible form of coaching. It tends to end in set goals that the questions have created, giving employees an action plan to follow afterward.

One challenge with this model is that both coaches and employees may find these rounds of questions uncomfortable. It can take skilled communication and a willingness to try something new to be successful. 

The G.R.O.W. Model – This coaching framework for managers is divided into a series of steps that coaches walk through with an employee to help them achieve goals. Here’s how it breaks down: 

Goals: This goes through what specific goals an employee has, or the problem that they are trying to address – an important first step for any kind of project. 

Reality: This is a type of gap analysis that simply compares the stated goal to reality and asks, “What sort of obstacles are in the way of this goal? What is keeping it from happening?” This identifies key problems. 

Options: Here, the coach helps the employee figure out how the goal can become reality. It’s more of a brainstorming stage than an analysis, helping the employee explore a variety of options and think about things from a solution-oriented point of view. 

Will: Now the employee picks a single first step to take to realize the goal. This makes the goal manageable, and lays a path forward for future sessions. 

The simplicity of the GROW method makes it a good choice when coaches and employees are both new to the coaching process. However, it may be necessary to dig deeper over time. Also, this method can require some inspiration and creativity to function smoothly.

Instructional Coaching – As you may have guessed by the name, this is a teacher-focused type of coaching that’s designed to help employees learn content that they need to do their job, learn a new skill, or meet new requirements.

This type of coaching excels at teaching groups instead of one-on-one improvement. It often involves a classroom setting, and presentations or materials to go through. That makes it a popular choice for teaching teams new technology or new technical requirements the business is adopting.

While very efficient, instructional coaching rarely allows for much personalization, so it’s not a great option to help tackle a specific performance issue an employee is having. It also doesn’t help an employee find solutions on their own, which can be a helpful benefit of other types of coaching.

A similar type of coaching is group coaching. Instead of focusing on content that employees need to learn, group coaching focuses on teaching the group to function well together. This is where you may see classic techniques like trust exercises and roleplaying. It’s important to differentiate between instructional coaching and group coaching depending on the end goal, or businesses may choose the wrong materials. 

The C.L.E.A.R Model – The CLEAR model is very similar to the GROW model, but with the differences that managers and employees may prefer as an alternative. It’s also a popular option for general life coaching, and can be used by HR to help employees find a better fit within the company. 

  • Contract: The coach and employee establish clear ground roles for the coaching session. That includes what the session will cover, their roles in the session, and the goals for the session. Sometimes this more formal approach works better to deal with performance issues or workplace problems. 
  • Listen: The coach has a conversation with the employee that focuses on listening to the employee and fully understanding their perspective and responses. While this conversation is typically guided, the emphasis is on letting the employee talk – this is not the step for correction or new information. 
  • Explore: Now the coach helps the employee explore the details of their situation, and the specific acts or events that are causing issues. The goal is to narrow down the problem to a few key points that the employee has the ability to change. 
  • Action: As the employee learns what sort of specific changes they can make, the coach starts creating actionable steps with the employee so they can chart a path forward. Here, the focus is on a positive new future where the problem is dealt with. 
  • Review: This is an important follow-up step where the coach makes sure the employee is following through on their actions, and that they are helping address the problem effectively. 

The S.T.E.P.P.A Model Developed by Dr. Angus McLeod, the STEPPA system is a methodical model with clearly defined steps that can be applied to many situations. It’s notable for its inclusion of emotional analysis, which is something that models like CLEAR don’t specifically address.

  • Subject: This is a foundational look at the situation, the context, and the unique needs of the employee so that coaching can begin on a good footing. 
  • Target Identification: Coaches work with employees to clearly define goals to meet, whether those are performance metrics, learning a new skill, dealing with an unpleasant situation, etc. 
  • Emotion: Now coaches focus on the employee’s emotions. The goal is to identify negative emotions that are keeping the employee from a good outcome, as well as positive emotions that could help the employee reach that outcome more easily. 
  • Perception: Perception focuses on the employee’s perspective. How are their goals related to their personal life? How are they related to the company’s broader goals? What about the goals of peers in the workplace? This perspective helps encourage the employee and encourages them to think more creatively about ways to meet their goals. 
  • Plan/Pace: Now the coach works with the employee to create an action plan with clear steps to help meet the goal. Pace refers to setting a timeframe for the plan, which can be very helpful to encourage action in a timely manner. 
  • Action/Amend: The employee now takes action. Later, the action is reviewed and the coach discusses the response with the employee, again going over their emotions and perceptions to see what has changed. 

The O.S.C.A.R. Model OSCAR is a simplified coaching model that can be very effective for skills-based coaching and quickly finding solutions for a situation.

  • Outcome: What’s the outcome that needs to be achieved as the result of the coaching? This works well when a coach already has a predetermined goal for the process. 
  • Situation: Here, the coach walks the employee through their situation, helping them carefully define their current level of skill, abilities, training, and knowledge. 
  • Choices (Sometimes Called Know-How): Now employees work to define the choices they can make to resolve a problem or expand their skill set to reach the desired outcome. 
  • Actions: Here, employee choices are turned into specific actions that can help provide a roadmap going forward. 
  • Review: The OSCAR is intended to be bolstered by regular reviews to keep up on employee progress and make sure they reach the outcome. 

The A.O.R. Model – This is a highly condensed version of the other “acronym” models that gets the same information across very quickly. It may be more useful when a coach has plenty of experience but still needs a basic blueprint to follow, or for sessions where coaches want to be less structured. It’s also a time-saver if coaches are on the clock and looking for ways to be more efficient.

  • Activities: This step simply identifies what the employee is currently doing. Often, that means drilling down to their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. 
  • Objectives: For objectives, the coach works to set specific goals. That could be a number of sign-ups per week, a number of orders processed, or something similar. 
  • Results: This is a review of how the employee has progressed meeting their goals, which allows coaches to affirm, and bring up new tactics or solutions for the employee to work on. 

Block Removal and Shift Coaching – This coaching model can use many of the techniques listed above, but has a different focus. Here, the coach works to bring the employee into a mental place where healthy change can happen. Employees can have many different kinds of mental blocks. They may feel like they are unworthy of a promotion, that they don’t have the ability to learn new skills, or that they don’t have enough time to do their jobs properly. 

This kind of coaching works to reframe the employee’s perspective and shift their mode of thinking to one that’s more positive and helpful. When employees understand that they are capable of more than they think, their mood and performance can improve immensely. 

A closely related form of coaching is “victim vs. player coaching.” Here, the coach specifically tries to move the employee away from a helpless, victim mentality and toward a player mentality, where they feel they can take ownership and act to make a difference.

Self-Directed Learning – Not all coaching needs involve detailed conversations. Sometimes, the best kinds of coaching for a situation use both a coach and self-directed learning. In these cases, coaches work with employees to consider where they want to be, and what steps can take them there. Experimentation is encouraged, and employees do much of the work on their own, according to their own schedule. 

This type of coaching works well with ambitious employees who want to hone their skills or learn new capabilities on the job. It’s often used as part of leadership training and the promotion process. That brings us to another closely related topic.

Mentorship Programs – Do mentorship programs qualify as a coaching model? While they may not be a technical model like those we discussed above, they are a coaching option that organizations can adopt. Traditionally, mentorship is seen as a, “Do as I do,” type of training, while coaching asks, “What do you need to achieve?” But this isn’t a strict rule, and many kinds of mentorships can help mentees learn valuable skills and allow them to thrive in the workplace. 

Mentorships may work best for leadership positions, or for passing along specific experience and knowledge about clientele, accounts, etc. It can be combined with other types of coaching as well. 

Consulting – Some would argue that consulting isn’t really a training model at all. Consultations usually focus on specific situations, not people and their skills. However, there are times when consulting is an integral part of the coaching process.

For example, an organization may want to start coaching employees in how to meet important compliance requirements when dealing with a new government contract. However, the organization doesn’t have anyone on staff with experience in dealing with this kind of compliance.

In this case, the best solution may be to hire an outside consultant to discuss compliance issues, the best methods of training, and how to set up training sessions with the specialist and the organization’s teams. This is an important first step when businesses don’t have a lot of the necessary experience.

How Leadership Training Can Help

Coaching doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The best way to start a coaching program is with the right training for mentors, which can help people prepare for their coaching role, and find effective techniques.

The good news is that many types of leadership training can also help with coaching. The basic aspects of leadership, like communication skills, integrity, inspiration, and creative thinking, are perfect for those preparing for a mentorship role. It’s also important to generate buy-in throughout the workforce. All employees should understand the value of a coaching program, and the direct benefits that it can bring.

For a new coaching initiative, consider starting with KnowledgeCity’s brief course on Establishing the Right Coaching Mindset. This is a great way to prepare when creating your program and explaining the goals to your team. 

For more ideas about the different types of training that can encourage leadership in an organization, our leadership and management programs are a good place to start browsing. This allows you to pick the right programs for knowledge gaps or specific challenges you or the coaches may run across. Providing everyone access to these materials allows them to look for specific resources themselves whenever they want. 

Brush Up on Your Coaching Know-How with KnowledgeCity

Ready to dive deeper? KnowledgeCity has specialized courses to help master additional aspects of coaching. Our eBook on Coaching Strategies for Managers is an excellent resource that covers steps on when and how to coach team members, and is designed to be easily shared throughout an organization so that everyone is on the same path to success.

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