Types of coaching in the workplace: the ultimate guide [Updated: 2023]
By Julian Lewis • October 20, 2022
When it comes to coaching styles in the workplace, there are a variety of approaches that managers and mentors can take.
Adopting a coaching approach to leadership can be extremely beneficial, but with so many different options and different coaching approaches at work, how do you know which style is right for you and your business?
In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the seven most common coaching styles used in the workplace. We'll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each of the coaching methods, and provide tips on how to choose the right coaching style for your business and employees.
By the end of this article, you'll be able to confidently select the right coaching style for your workplace and see improved productivity from your employees.
If instead, you are looking to become an executive coach yourself, check out our ultimate guide on how to become an executive coach.
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Tell me the difference between coaching approaches.
Democratic coaching brings innovative leadership solutions and is all about collaboration and open communication between the coach and the employees. In this approach, the coach provides guidance and support but allows employees to have a say in decision-making. This style of coaching can be beneficial in fostering personal and group development, and a sense of ownership and buy-in from employees.
While frequently used for executive coaching, team coaching, and life coaching, it's important to note that the democratic style may not be appropriate in all situations. For example, if there is a time-sensitive decision that needs to be made, the coach may need to take a more directive approach.
Among the different types of coaching, adaptive coaching is the closest to the democratic coaching style in that it emphasizes collaboration between the coach and employees.
However, the key difference is that the adaptive coach is more flexible and willing to adjust their approach based on the needs of the situation. Among all different types of coaching, adaptive coaching can be beneficial in situations where there is a lot of change, stress management, or uncertainty. Discover how middle managers can use coaching to help their teams succeed in uncertain times.
Cognitive coaching is focused on helping employees develop their critical thinking, interpersonal and personal resources, and problem-solving skills. In this approach, the coach asks questions and provides guidance, but allows employees to come up with their own solutions. Very popular when it comes to life coaching, this type of coaching can also be beneficial in fostering team member creativity and innovation.
Laissez-Faire coaching style or holistic coaching style
Differently from other types of coaching, laissez-faire holistic coaching is focused on providing employees with the resources and support they need to be successful, but without micromanaging them. In holistic coaching, the coach takes a hands-off approach and allows employees to take the initiative and ownership of their projects. Holistic coaching can be beneficial in fostering team member autonomy and independence, as well as letting a leader expand existing strengths.
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Humanist coaching focuses on the individual needs of the employees. In this approach, the coach takes a personalized approach and tailors the coaching mentality to the individual's strengths, weaknesses, and goals. This type of coaching can be beneficial in fostering employee motivation and engagement.
Autocratic coaching style
This style is based on the premise that the autocratic coach is the expert and knows what's best for the employees. Autocratic coaches make all of the decisions and give employees specific instructions on what to do.
This type of coaching is very popular when it comes to performance coaching (e.g. used by a pro personal trainer), and can be beneficial in situations where quick results are needed and there is no time for discussion or debate.
However, the autocratic coaching style can also hurt the team's performance and lead to resentment from employees if it's used too often or for too long. Employees may feel like they're not being given the opportunity to voice their opinions or contribute to decision-making.
Combining the Best From These Approaches
The best intuitive coaches are usually those who are able to adapt their style based on the needs of the situation. For example, a coach who is typically directive may need to be more supportive in a situation where an employee is feeling overwhelmed. Similarly, a coach who is typically laissez-faire may need to be more hands-on in a situation where an employee is struggling to meet deadlines.
The key is to be aware of the different types of coaching and to know when to use each one. By doing so, you'll be able to select the right style for your business and employees and see improved productivity as a result.
Tips for successful coaching in the workplace
Set clear expectations
Before starting a coaching relationship, be sure to set clear expectations with your employees. Discuss what you hope to accomplish through the coaching process, and make sure your employees are on board with the goals.
Once you've started coaching, be sure to communicate regularly with your employees. This will help to build trust, improve communication skills, and keep the coaching relationship on track.
Be open to feedback
As a coach, you should be open to receiving feedback from your employees. This will help you to improve your coaching style and better meet the needs of your employees.
Don't be afraid to adjust your coaching style based on the needs of your employees. By supporting clients and being flexible, you'll be able to better meet the needs of your employees and see improved results.
Create mutual trust
The relationship between a good coach and an employee should be built on trust and respect. This is especially important in the workplace, where there is a power dynamic at play. As an executive coach, it's important to earn the trust of your employees, guide them in a positive direction, and treat them with respect. In turn, your employees will be more likely to trust you and be open to your coaching.
Challenge thought patterns
One of the most important things a coach can do is challenge an employee's thought patterns. This is especially important in the workplace, where employees may be stuck in negative thought patterns that are hindering their own performance. As a transformational coach, it's your job to help employees identify these negative thought patterns and to challenge them. By doing so, you'll help employees to see things from a different perspective, build their leadership style, and find new solutions to problems.
Recognize that no two people are the same
It's important to remember that no two people are the same. This is especially true in the workplace, where employees have different personalities, backgrounds, and experiences. As an executive or life coach, it's important to remember that each employee is an individual and to tailor your coaching style accordingly. By doing so, you'll be able to better meet the needs of your employees, lead them in a more positive direction, and see improved results.
Coaching is a process, and it takes time to see results. As a coach, it's important to be patient with your employees and to give them the time they need to grow and develop. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are the most successful leaders. By being patient, you'll be able to better support your employees, helping leaders regulate and see the results they're looking for.
Be receptive to coaching and feedback
If you're new to coaching, it's important to be receptive to feedback. This will help you improve your coaching style and better meet the needs of your employees.
Self-awareness over criticism
When it comes to feedback, it's essential to focus on self-awareness over criticism. This means that you should aim to help employees see their areas of improvement, rather than critiquing them for their mistakes. By doing so, you'll help employees to be more open to feedback and more receptive to coaching.
Choose the right approach
There are a variety of different coaching styles and approaches to choose from. When selecting an approach, it's important to consider the needs of your employees and your business. By doing so, you'll be able to choose the right approach for your workplace and see improved productivity as a result.
By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to successful coaching in the workplace. Remember, the key is to be aware of the different coaching styles and to know when to use each one. By doing so, you'll be able to select the right coaching style to set a positive psychology model, build positive emotions, and see improved productivity as a result.
Further insights and actionable strategies can be found in our comprehensive guide on emotional intelligence coaching.
6 additional coaching styles
In this article, we've explored the seven main coaching styles and discussed the benefits and drawbacks of each one. However, there are a variety of other coaching styles to choose from. Here are six other styles to consider:
Mindfulness coaching is a type of coaching that helps employees to be more present and aware of their thoughts and feelings. This type of coaching can help employees to better manage their stress levels and improve their focus and concentration.
Active or passive transactional coaching
Transactional coaching is a type of coaching that focuses on the exchange of information between the coach and the employee. This type of coaching can be helpful for employees who need clarity on their goals and objectives. A typical example of transactional coaching includes contingent reward coaching, where employees are provided rewards based on performance.
Transformational coaching is a type of coaching that helps employees to transform their lives. Perfect for individual coaching, this type can help employees to identify and overcome obstacles, set goals, and make lasting changes in their lives.
Intuitive is a type of coaching that relies on the coach's intuition and inner guidance. This type of coaching can be helpful for employees who are seeking a more spiritual approach or are interested in a more therapeutic coaching strategy than usual.
Developmental coaching is a type of coaching that focuses on the development of the leader and the leader's success. Among the various coaching styles, this type of coaching can help employees grow their situational leadership, and develop a leader's performance throughout their entire career.
Bureaucratic is a type of coaching that follows the rules and regulations of an organization. This type can be helpful for employees who need structure and guidance in their careers.
No matter what type of coaching style you choose, it's important to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of each one. By doing so, you'll be able to choose the right coaching style for your workplace and see improved productivity as a result.
If you're interested in learning more about executive coaching and how it can incorporate 360-degree feedback, check out our post on Executive Coaching: 360-Degree Feedback to gain insights into this powerful coaching approach.
What about virtual coaching?
Virtual coaching takes place via video conferencing or phone calls. This type of coaching can be beneficial for businesses that have employees in different locations. It can also be helpful for employees who are unable to meet in person for coaching sessions.
Virtual sessions have some benefits over in-person coachings, such as increased flexibility and convenience.
Benefits of online coaching
1. Increased flexibility and convenience: With online coaching, employees can receive coaching from anywhere in the world. This is especially beneficial for businesses that have employees in different locations.
2. Increased accessibility: Online coaching is also beneficial for employees who are unable to meet in person for coaching sessions.
3. Increased accountability: With online coaching, employees are more likely to stick to their coaching goals and see results.
4. Increased interaction: Online coaching allows for more interaction between the coach and the employee. This is beneficial for employees who learn best through interaction and discussion.
5. Increased anonymity: In some cases, online coaching can be more anonymous than in-person coaching. This is beneficial for employees who are uncomfortable discussing personal issues in person.
There are a variety of different methods of coaching to choose from. In this article, we've explored the seven most common coaching styles and discussed the benefits and drawbacks of each one. We've also provided tips on how to choose the right coaching style for your business and employees.
By the end of this article, you should be able to confidently analyze the different types of coaching methods, select the right approaches to executive coaching, and see improved productivity as a result.
If you're looking for a more personalized approach, check out our FAQs to life and career coaching, 15 Types of Coaching Inside and Outside The Workplace, or consider hiring a professional coach. A professional coach can help you assess your goals and objectives and create a customized plan to help you achieve them. Contact us today to learn more about our coaching services.
If you want to gain a deeper understanding of the significance of middle managers in organizations, I highly recommend reading Demystifying the Middle Manager.
Read more about: Executive Coaching
About Julian Lewis
Julian Lewis is a driven and accomplished professional with a passion for driving positive change in the business world. As the co-founder and COO at Zella Life, a coaching on-demand platform, he is working to bridge the diversity gap between diverse talent and internal team leaders. His own experience as a professional of color in a Fortune 500 company led him to discover the limitations for advancement that many professionals like himself face. Determined to reach his full potential, Julian became an established business coach and entrepreneur, committed to supporting others who have been culturally conditioned to remain silent in their pursuit of personal and professional growth.
Today, Julian is a recognized corporate trainer, coach, and leader, known for his ability to leverage real-life experiences and evidence-based methodologies to affect positive change within individuals and organizations. As the leader of Zella Life's coaching division, he is dedicated to empowering individuals and businesses to achieve their full potential. Julian's unique perspective and passion for coaching make him a valuable asset to any organization.
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