Coaching Conversations: Practices & Template for Growth

One of the most transformational leadership skills is starting and holding a coaching conversation. You can help people become more self-aware through coaching. 

You turn the experiences into learning opportunities. You can reinforce all your strengths and explore the challenges. At the same time, you can help people take responsibility for their actions besides development.

If the company conducts coaching conversations between the employees and the managers, you are taking advantage of the opportunity to improve employee performance significantly.

A company culture enhances employee engagement, job satisfaction, and collaboration performance. Therefore, coaching is a significant element in improving the entire team’s performance.

What is a Coaching Conversation?

A coaching conversation is a two-way dialogue between a coach and an individual. A coaching conversation aims to help individuals develop their skills and achieve their goals.

A coaching conversation should be focused on the individual and their specific needs.

Common Topics For Coaching Conversations

Topics commonly addressed in coaching conversations include onboarding, time management overworked or overwhelmed, missed deadlines problem-solving goal-setting performance, and obstacles. 

Whether a coaching conversation is just a part of any weekly meetings or you must set up the appointment separately, you must schedule a follow-up with all your employees.

A follow-up meeting will ensure accountability and allow managers to check if the employees have questions. 

You need to know that not all coaching conversations are the same, even regarding the same topic, so it can be challenging for employees to prepare for these chats.

To ensure a positive and effective coaching conversation, you have to ensure managers are not asking all the open-minded queries.

If the employees feel lectured by some managers, they would shut down or become unresponsive. Questions help the employee dive deep into what they would be feeling. 

By the manager asking queries, the employee often discovers new ideas and solutions themselves instead of being what they are told to be. Managers should lead the employee to some solution instead of telling them what to do. 

What queries should managers be asking the employees? One of the most prominent techniques for structuring the coaching conversation includes the growth model. Grow stands for goal, current reality options, and way forward.

The Basics You Need To Know About Grow Model

Every stage in the growth model has a specific meaning, including deciding where the employer is going and establishing where the employee is currently. 

This is the reality and options where the manager and the employee can explore various routes.

The last would be the way forward, which means the employee commits to the journey of how to solve the given problem.

Grow Coaching Conversations

Firstly, Establish the Goal

The employee and the manager must come together to decide what changes the employee needs to go through for the goal.

If employees need help setting goals, the managers must remind them to use the smart goal methods.

Understand The Current Reality

It is easier to solve problems by looking at the initial point. Then, the solution might arise as the employee describes the problem.

Some questions you have to ask are how would you describe the situation, what advice would you give somebody in their shoes, and what have you tried already?

Discuss All The Options

To determine the possible options for achieving the objective. Employees should start with possible solutions, followed by the manager’s ideas.

The questions you need to ask are what else can you do, or what if this or the other constant was removed? What are the pros and cons of the options besides what barriers stand in this way?

Committing To The Way Forward

As you’ve explored all the solutions, it is time to look at only one answer. First, you have to establish a given way forward.

First, you must ask what steps you can take today or this week to resolve some problems, how to eliminate them, or what else the team could help you with.

Examples of using the GROW coaching model

Example 1: Goal

Coach: “What would you like to achieve in the next six months?”

Coachee: “I would like to improve my public speaking skills so that I can feel more confident when presenting to clients.”

Coach: “Great. Can you tell me a bit more about what specifically you would like to improve?”

Coachee: “I would like to work on my delivery, pacing, and body language.”

Example 2: Reality

Coach: “Tell me about your current experience with public speaking.”

Coachee: “I find it really nerve-wracking and tend to speak too quickly. I also struggle with keeping eye contact with the audience.”

Coach: “Thanks for sharing that. Can you tell me about a time when you felt like you gave a successful presentation?”

Coachee: “Well, there was one time when I prepared really thoroughly and practiced a lot. I felt much more confident and received positive feedback from the audience.”

Example 3: Options

Coach: “What are some strategies or actions that you could take to improve your public speaking skills?”

Coachee: “I could take a public speaking course, practice in front of a mirror, or record myself giving a presentation and analyze my performance.”

Coach: “Those are all great options. Can you think of any other strategies that might be helpful?”

Coachee: “I could try joining a public speaking group or find a mentor who is experienced in public speaking.”

Example 4: Way Forward

Coach: “Based on our conversation, what specific actions will you take to improve your public speaking skills?”

Coachee: “I will enroll in a public speaking course, practice in front of a mirror every day, and record myself giving a presentation to analyze my performance. I will also reach out to my network to find a mentor who can provide guidance and feedback.”

Best Practices For Perfect Coaching Conversations

Avoid Any Close-Ended Questions

You do not have to include closed questions that could be answered with yes or no. As a coach, you must avoid questions because they do not lead to conversations or discoveries.

The coach must be pulling information from the employee to give better solutions.

Avoid Asking Stack Questions.

You should avoid asking multiple questions in one go if you’re a manager. For example, you do not have to ask what time you clock in that morning or why you are running late today. Only ask one question.

The problem with asking multiple questions at a time is that the employees will not give the answers you seek, which will overwhelm them.

Avoid Interrupting or Jumping To Conclusions or Filling The Quiet Time

You have to encourage the managers to allow the employee to give them some time to think about the answer.

Instruct the manager to enable it if there is some silence while the employee thinks. Avoid interrupting or further explaining that question.

Why Should You Adapt To A Coaching Culture?

Organizational success depends on a culture that encourages optimum listening, constructive questioning, rapport empowerment, and regular two-way conversation.

Coaching allows this. There are several ways for the organization to develop a coaching culture.

The Shift From Typical Performance Reviews To Constant Feedback Conversations

For several companies, the day of annual performance reviews is numbered. Now that’s not what to say. That is no longer a place for appraisals, as the companies can no longer rely on them if they want to develop high-performing teams.

The typical performance results in low morale, while conversations make the employees perform better.

You have to replace the annual performance reviews with regular performance discussions. Performance discussions mean coaching conversations.

Enhance Psychological Safety

Another benefit of a coaching culture is that it can help improve psychological safety among all employees. It is essential as low levels of psychological security cause underperforming teams. 

It would be best to consider that low-level groups experience individuals being afraid to speak up for fear of judgment, criticism, or even negative consequences.

Team members point the finger and shift their blame instead of taking responsibility for people talking behind each other’s backs. 

At the same time, coaching culture can also have psychological safety because coaching equips all the team members with curiosity, trust, and confidence, and each plays a crucial role in improving the same.

Furthermore, organizations with coaching culture have set out the team members or the norms of the team members to define the boundaries or even expectations of the team members.

In turn, it gives a complete sense of safety to share all the opinions and call out the negative behavior. It can also help in improving your dynamics in the assigned team.

Equip Your Managers With The Perfect Skills, Knowledge, and Tool

It needs to be completed enough to tell your managers that they need to start coaching their teams; you have to give them all the right tools and training to be able to do the same. 

After all, becoming a coach perfectly goes beyond just adapting a shared coaching mindset and requires new learning skills.

They need to be able to put them into practice. It means that you have to give them all the knowledge so they can develop the right skills, such as coaching conversations with direct reports and developing excellent listening skills. It would help if you also gave them the tools to embed these skills in daily work.

How Can You Have a Coaching Conversation With The Employee?

The ability to have a coaching conversation would be a skill, but with the proper guidance and training, it is something that any manager can be supported in doing so. 

The important thing that they need to know is when they should be having these conversations. While there is no perfect blueprint, managers should aim to have weekly, if not every fortnightly. The one-to-one conversation is essential to be direct. 

You can learn more about choosing the perfect meeting goals here. For example, while someone to one would be a simple 15-minute check-in, they should be investing time in having conversations around the strength of the employees, career development opportunities, general feedback discussions, or reviewing objectives.

For coaching conversations to be effective, managers have to be able to listen and respond whenever needed. Specifically, they need to develop excellent listening skills. 

This is because they need to hear when somebody is saying a word, believe it, and understand what somebody is not conveying.

Managers can understand, absorb and retain what is being said when fully engaged in that conversation. While you can also learn more about active listening here, it can involve some of the steps below.

Give Employees Complete Attention

Managers must give every team member the complete attention that they deserve whenever they are having a coaching conversation.

One of the best ways to do this is by embracing all the pauses to ensure that the person being coached is not being cut off. It is also essential to give them complete eye contact.

Avoid Any Judgments

Being a listener, you might not always agree with what the person is saying, but leaders who want to become coaches need to be non-judgmental and avoid any interruptions while


Another important element of listening skills is remembering the person on what is being said. Managers should never assume they have understood correctly and should paraphrase all the key points to ensure they are on the right page.

 In simple terms, they should repeat in their own words what is being interpreted. Ultimately the paraphrase should be shorter than the original documents and always be paraphrased by a question.


If the comment is unclear, it is OK for the active listener as a coach to clarify all the questions in the leader’s case.

However, clarification goes beyond just clearing up the confusion. It should also be used to probe the employees to reflect on themselves and solve different problems first; our managers can easily do this by asking open-ended questions.

Coaching Conversation Template

1. Opening

  • Establish rapport and set the tone for the conversation.
  • Ask the coachee how they’re doing and what they’d like to focus on in the session.

2. Goal-setting

  • Help the coachee identify their primary goal for the session.
  • Ask questions to clarify the goal and make sure it is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

3. Exploration

  • Ask open-ended questions to help the coachee explore the issue at hand and gain deeper insight into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Listen actively and reflect back on what you hear to demonstrate understanding.

4. Action planning

  • Help the coachee brainstorm strategies and action steps that will move them toward their goal.
  • Encourage them to think creatively and consider multiple options.
  • Help them identify potential obstacles and brainstorm ways to overcome them.

5. Accountability

  • Confirm the action steps the coachee has committed to taking.
  • Agree on a timeline for completing each step and schedule a follow-up session.
  • Encourage the coachee to be accountable for their progress and celebrate their successes along the way.

6. Closing

  • Summarise the key points of the session and ask the coachee for feedback.
  • Thank them for their time and commitment to their personal growth.

Remember that coaching conversations should be tailored to the individual coachee and their specific needs. Use this template as a starting point and adjust it as needed to fit the situation.

Example Coaching Conversation

Here’s an example coaching conversation that follows the five steps outlined above:

Coach: Hi John, how are you doing today?

John: I’m doing well, thanks.

Coach: Great, I’d like to start our conversation today by discussing your goals. What are your goals for this quarter?

John: My goal is to improve my sales performance by 20%.

Coach: That’s a great goal. Let’s make it SMART by adding a specific number and a deadline. How about increasing your sales performance by 20% by the end of the quarter?

John: That sounds good.

Coach: Okay, let’s move on to assessing your current performance. What do you think are your strengths when it comes to sales?

John: I’m good at building relationships with clients and identifying their needs.

Coach: That’s great. What areas do you think you need to improve on?

John: I think I need to work on my closing techniques and time management.

Coach: Good self-reflection. Let’s move on to developing an action plan. How can you improve your closing techniques and time management?

John: I can take a course on sales techniques and create a schedule to prioritize my time better.

Coach: Those are great ideas. Let’s add those to your action plan. Finally, let’s talk about follow-up and accountability. I’ll check in with you weekly to track your progress and provide support. Are you okay with that?

John: Yes, that sounds good.


At the end of the coaching conversation, managers have to summarize the key themes. It helps in improving accountability and ensures that both parties are completely aligned. Every coaching conversation should always end with an action plan.

Managers must listen carefully, respond thoughtfully, and avoid imposing judgments to have an effective coaching conversation.

 It is also essential that the leaders recognize they went to court and managed the team. Additionally, not all coaching conversations are simple at times when there can be some challenging situations that would arrive. 

Managers must prepare for a coaching conversation by identifying the issues, goals, options, and what’s next. Then, as the talks end, you must summarize what was great.

It is helpful to have the other person do this so that you can see how accurately they remember the crucial actions and send the email to confirm what was agreed upon. It is always best to do this so the email can include the agreed-upon essential things.


What is the purpose of a coaching conversation?

A coaching conversation aims to help individuals develop their skills and achieve their goals through a two-way dialogue with a coach.

How do you establish trust in a coaching conversation?

To establish trust in a coaching conversation, the coach should create a safe and supportive environment, listen actively, show empathy, and respect the individual’s opinions and perspectives.

What are SMART goals in coaching conversations?

SMART goals in coaching conversations are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals that provide direction and motivation for individuals.

How can you assess current performance in a coaching conversation?

Assessing current performance in a coaching conversation involves providing feedback on the individual’s strengths and areas for improvement and asking open-ended questions to encourage self-reflection and self-awareness.

What is the role of accountability in coaching conversations?

Accountability in coaching conversations involves following up with the individual regularly to track progress, holding them accountable for their actions, and providing feedback on their performance to ensure they achieve their goals.

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