Coaching is a set of training methods that focus on the needs of specific individuals, coupled with close observation of their performance and learning activities, leading to feedback regarding how they can further enhance their performance. Coaching can also be used as a management technique, where a manager gives guidance regarding the general direction needed, and the individual is allowed to figure out the best way to get there. Under both definitions, coaching cannot be considered exclusively a top-down, directive activity. Instead, managers work with employees in a collaborative environment to improve skills. The improvement of skills generally covers the following areas:
Deal with performance problems. A manager deals with the shortcomings of her staff. For example, an employee has difficulty writing status reports, or is continually working late to address his standard daily work load. The manager can provide coaching to rectify these issues.
Enhance skills. A manager can provide coaching regarding how to enhance existing skills, or to work on skills in entirely new areas. For example, someone with management potential has a difficult time confronting argumentative people. A manager can discuss this issue, focusing on the alternative confrontation methods available and perhaps engaging in role playing.
Improve productivity. A manager can show employees how to increase their efficiency and effectiveness in conducting their daily tasks. For example, an employee does not understand how to investigate processing errors to determine the underlying causes. Proper coaching can involve discussions of different analysis methods that may apply to the situation.
Enhance the work environment. When a manager is constantly working to improve the capabilities of her staff, this tends to result in a more positive work environment, which in turn tends to reduce employee turnover, since they have a better connection with the organization.