A Guide to One-on-One Coaching in Small Businesses


A huge responsibility that comes with leadership is being able to coach your team members personally. Does that mean business owners have to set up individual sessions with the entire staff? Not quite.

There’s a big difference between conducting meetings and coaching employees for better performance. Whereas meetings are an opportunity to touch base or present ideas to a large group, coaching sessions provide a better avenue for identifying your staff’s strengths and weaknesses.


One-on-one coaching

More than sharing tips to employees as you pass them, you as the business owner can take control of coaching by making sure each functioning unit is given attention by their supervisors. That can mean anywhere from delegating the task fully to setting up meetings with employees yourself. The important thing is being able to coach staff members whom you personally supervise.

While it’s important to develop good team dynamics, you need to be seeing each employee as an individual, with individual contributions and obstacles. This is the reason why focusing on your staff members separately makes coaching more effective. Having been in their position and back, you can help them reach better performance without going through all the same ordeals.


Timing your sessions

How frequent your sessions are will depend on your combined availability and how much your staff member needs support. While you can’t delegate these kinds of tasks to outside professionals, you also can’t afford to let coaching take up all of your time (most owners don’t). You should also think about whether you’re dealing with an employee who constantly needs supervision or one who can be more independent. Whatever schedule you decide on, make sure it helps you track their progress regularly.

Timing is a key element of coaching, especially with regard to your employees’ tasks. You may come across inexperienced staff members needing help prior to new projects, or find out a campaign has stagnated due to your team being burnt out. There’s also the inevitable scenario of having to do damage control when mistakes are made, not only for your company but also for your panicking employee. Your input and openness to them will always have value, so make sure you’re able to share it when appropriate.


What to discuss

Supervisors don’t help their employees out when they spoon-feed information to them or turn into professional crutches. Instead, you should be having open conversation about expectations, concerns, achievements and suggestions from both sides. Use the insights you gain and the opportunity to give constructive criticism to help you and your staff member to move forward. You want them to learn how to deal with their workload in the best methods possible, and this is a skill that can only be honed by experience.

Having aligned goals with your staff also makes it easier to pursue them on a day-to-day basis.

When your employees are able to see their work in light of the bigger picture, they become as ready to take on success as you are.  

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Topics: Human Resources