The secrets to coaching employees in the workplace

Organizations and companies today understand that in order to retain employees and keep a high level of engagement, they not only need to take care of the employee’s surrounding and environment but also his well-being and development.

All though I could write an entire post just on coaching in the workplace, I want to give practical tools that managers and leaders in the company might be able to use, in order to coach their employees.

As a matter of fact, an interesting article that articulates very well why coaching in the workplace is becoming more and more popular can be read here.

So if you are looking for an explanation to why coaching employees in the workplace is important/meaningful/productive THIS IS NOT IT!

Go to the link above for that sort of information.

On the other hand, if you are looking for coaching sessions that managers and leaders can use for coaching employees in the workplace then read on. I’m positive you will enjoy the exercises below.

Coaching in the workplace

Coaching in the workplace is a bit different than personal coaching. All though both focus on developing people and enable growth, personal coaching will be oriented around personal goals and matters, while workplace coaching will be oriented around work aspects and how they affect and relate to the worker.

Coaching in the workplace enables employees to develop their skills, and create shifts in thought patterns. These changes allow for greater commitment to the workplace and the work that the employee does. A committed worker is one that is more resilient to change, and since today the amount and velocity of changes keeps increasing, this trait becomes priceless.

The below exercises are specially designed for coaching groups, and could easily be adapted to any company needs. You could use any of them to coach a team or a division in the workplace.

Coaching exercises

How others see me

This exercise is simple and easy, and also very informative. It makes the participants start off in a good mood, and it’s a great exercise to start a session with. The steps are:

  • Everybody gets a blank piece of paper and tapes it to their back
  • Each one grabs a pen
  • As all participants walk around in the room, each one writes on the other’s piece of paper the first GOOD quality or trait that he values most in that person.
  • Allow for 10 minutes of this activity at least. It’s okay to write two qualities or more for the same person
  • When the time’s up ask each one to review his page and share what he learned about himself

It’s important that this exercise be anonymous, and that the traits that are written down will be only good qualities that are valued by each person. Try also to avoid external qualities like “nice hair” or “dresses well” and go in deeper to qualities that the person possess.

Since the employees know each other, this exercise can show each what they bring to the team, and how they are perceived outside of themselves. A nice adaptation might be to ask what the person would like to be known for in the team and see where the discussion turns to.

True or false

This exercise requires groups of 5-10 people. The steps to perform this exercise are:

  • Ask each one in the group to think about 3 statements. One must be true, and the other false.
  • Everyone takes turns stating each of their 3 statements
  • For each statement, ask the other group members to say which they think is the true one
  • After everyone has revealed their true statements, you could start a discussion on the assumptions each team member does on other members, and how it affects day to day work and behavior

This exercise is excellent when trying to coach workplace teams, since besides it being fun, it usually reveals the hidden assumptions that group members in the team has on each other which affect workplace behavior.

7 words

This is a great exercise which is a lot of fun. It gives the feeling of what is coaching, and it’s certain to spark laughter from your audience.

  • Ask people to think of an issue or a goal that the company needs to achieve. It could be a major goal or a small issue. Make sure it’s something real that the employees experience
  • After each one has a goal in mind, divide the group into pairs. One will be the “coach” and the other will be the “client”
  • Now the coach asks the client to express their issue or goal in EXACTLY 7 words
  • Then the coach asks the client a question regarding its goal in EXACTLY 7 words.
  • The client then answers the question in EXACTLY 6 words
  • Then the coach asks a question in EXACTLY 6 words
  • The client then answers the question in EXACTLY 5 words
  • The process continues until…
  • The coach asks a question in exactly 2 words
  • The client answers in EXACTLY 1 word
  • After the client answers in 1 word, have the coach and client swap roles and do the entire process again.

7 ball

It’s important to make sure that the fast pace of the exercise is kept. The main theme of this exercise is that due to the fact that the exercise is fast and there is a limitation on communication, it forces the participants to really concentrate on their questions and responses. This creates a shortcut to their subconscious mind and to what they really want.

Taking a stand

This exercise is good to encourage authenticity in the workplace, and the ability to take a stand on an issue that you think is important in the office.

  • Make 4 areas or walls and 4 signs that say: Strongly agree, Agree, Strongly disagree, and disagree. Place each one of the signs in a different area/wall
  • Ask everyone to stand in the middle of the room.
  • Make a statement to you want everybody to take a stand on
  • Ask each one to go to the area/wall that represents his thoughts on the matter.
  • Ask a few people from different areas/walls why have they chose that particular area
  • If there are only 1 or 2 people next to a certain area/wall ask them what it feels like to be different, and to take a stand

It’s a good practice to start with a few warm up statements first. Something that is easy and maybe funny like “I think it’s healthy to drink one cup of coffee per day” or “Ringo was the best performer in the Beatles”, will make people understand the exercise and relate to it. One other thing that can be adapted in this exercise is to ask people what it will take them to move from one area/wall to the other and open a discussion on that topic.


The biggest thing I learned

This is a must have when finishing any coaching session that includes groups.

The entire exercise consists of asking each one of the people in the group “what is the biggest win you take with you from the session today?”. If you are coaching a large group, you can ask each one to turn to the person next to him and share his biggest win with the other.

This exercise can be modified if different questions are asked. For example “What are the 3 most important things you’ve learned from the session?”, “How will this session change the way you work?”.

What’s important is to ask a question which involves the material covered in the session in order to solidify the learning that took place.


These are just a few exercises that can be used in order to coach your employees, and get them to understand themselves better. These exercises could be used in addition to one on one coaching sessions, where you can really understand your employees and see how to improve their abilities and their commitment to the company.

If you are looking for more great exercises, you can look for some free resources in The coaching Tools company which have a lot of free resources, and are my go-to place for ideas.

As always if you have any additional exercises, or stories on how sessions that you participated in the workplace, let me know about it in the comments below or contact me for any questions.

6 thoughts on “The secrets to coaching employees in the workplace

  1. Nice article. Like the exercises. I wrote a series of posts on employee coaching recently taking a broad perspective on coaching in the workplace, specifically looking at the role of the employee coach as well as some of the broader techniques available to coaches to increase performance.

    • ido

      Thanks Ian.

      Read your article.
      Very interesting. You brought up some nice points that don’t usually get enough attention in coaching.

  2. What a cool tools you’ve got here.
    I tell you honestly, if i was working in a place where my boss was applying those exercise, i wold definitely looking forward to go to work.
    A careful employee knows that the flow between workers is the pillars of a business.
    How often do you reckon this exercises must be applied in the working place.
    every day?
    Once in a while or any time there are tension or misunderstanding?
    Thanks for the nice post

    • ido

      I think that applying coaching session for a group of people is something that is best done routinely throughout the year. Every case is different but I think that twice a year, if a team leader will group his team and coach them, it will increase productivity, and employee satisfaction will sky rocket.

  3. Having had a good look through your site I was a little confused as to how I could make any comments. It was then that I noticed “2 comments” at the end of an article, so I clicked on it, to find that this was how to leave a comment.

    I loved this article and a number of others primarily because you go into some detail in a non threatening manner outlining how to engage with people, through game or role playing to other methods.

    Even though your articles are long they are engaging and that is refreshing, additionally your reviews are considered and come with explanations where you differ from a standard review due to some knowledge of the product’s writer (ie Proctor).

    Easy to read website with a good depth of knowledge written in a clear manner.

    • ido

      Thanks Steve.
      I do my best to make coaching accessible to as many people as possible.
      I think it’s a process that everyone can benefit from, and it can raise our awarness of the word that we live in.

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