5 Tips for Improving Your Effectiveness as a Coach

There is always a lot of buzz surrounding leaders– what makes an effective one, are they born or made, and why do some transform into bad bosses.  Yet the most common trending topic today seems to be how to improve your leadership skills managing others. There are many “experts” who claim to have the answers, but the truth is there is no quick fix or magic bullet for being a better boss. What can give you an edge over others, however, is an understanding of the science of human behavior. 

A manager’s goal is to create successful employees. Learning how to motivate, inspire, and challenge your direct reports can be difficult since no two people are alike. What works for one may fail to be effective in improving the performance of another. It can be easy to fall into a trap of micro-managing or not providing enough positive reinforcement, often without realizing what is happening.  Practicing the tips below takes skill, time, and effort. But these items below will not only improve your effectiveness as a coach, but the overall performance of your team as well. 

  • Listen and ask questions. Asking questions allows employees to relive accomplishments and earn reinforcement. Listening to how goals were met provides opportunities for reinforcement and when problems are encountered, listening enables you to be more effective at problem solving.
  • Check in and follow up - frequently. Be available to your team. Ask “How are you doing?” or “How can I help you to be more successful?” Provide both positive reinforcement and constructive feedback. Doing what you say you are going to do will build accountability and trust.
  • Provide Reinforcement. Don’t just pop up when something is wrong. Provide positive reinforcement when you see people doing something right. The fastest path to improvement is one where positive reinforcement is present every step of the way.
  • Practice shaping. Plan and shape incremental improvements in behavior and then reinforce it along the way. Difficult behaviors or behaviors involving significant change need more encouragement in the beginning to get them going. Have patience and watch for these small steps towards the desired behavior.
  • Celebrate! Make accomplishments visible and celebrate as a team. This creates another opportunity for reinforcement as people share their success.


Posted by Aubrey Daniels, Ph.D.

Aubrey is a thought leader and expert on management, leadership, safety and workplace issues. For the past 40 years, he has been dedicated to helping people and organizations apply the laws of human behavior to optimize performance.