If you hire the right employees, they will be productive, right? If you just pay my employees enough, they will do great work, right? If you have a great company culture, your employees will flourish all on their own, right? Wrong.

While all of those things are important and helpful to having high-performing, successful, and engaged employees, most need some coaching to help them learn, grow, and progress. No one plays a more crucial role in improving employee engagement than managers. A great way to do this, is through coaching your employees.

Of those who are engaged, the number one factor that contributes to employee engagement is their relationship with their immediate supervisor.

A study by Dale Carnegie Training

Employees, especially Millennials, expect more feedback from their managers than just during an annual performance review. They expect regular communication between themselves and their managers. But what is coaching? Generally, coaching can be offering guidance with specific situations, projects or issues. But it should also be a part of a manager’s day-to-day interactions with employees.



According to SHRM, empathy is the foundation of successful coaching. Employees want their managers to care about them. “Employees who think their employers care about them as people are more likely to give above and beyond.” SHRM says that you can engender these feelings as simply through simple, ordinary conversations with your employees. You can learn about what matters to them, what their goals are, and how you can help them reach those goals.


Most likely you’ve heard of the 80-20 rule. Listen 80 percent of the time and speak 20 percent of time. When you listen, you are able to better understand what your employees need and find out what might be preventing them from being more successful. When you know, you can coach them toward specific improvements and goals.


Too often feedback is only provided when a manager thinks improvement is needed. It is a response to something negative. Don’t get us wrong, constructive feedback is absolutely necessary for real growth. However, you should be providing appreciation for what employees are doing well just as often.

The same Dale Carnegie study found that “positive emotions cause a stronger sense of satisfaction in an employee. They increase a person’s energy and performance, and make him or her more likely to help others (coworkers) complete tasks.”

Another tip is to include a “why” when you offer feedback, positive or otherwise. If you want something to change, you need to tell your employees why so they know their work has meaning.


The Balance says that part of a manager’s role is to “determine what (if any) issues exist that might get in the way of performing a task or accomplishing an objective” and then determine the best way to remove those barriers – whether you do it or the employee does. Four common barriers they mentioned include: time, training, tools, and temperament. When you listen, you can determine these and then actively help your employees overcome them.


Give employees autonomy. You’ve heard the phrase “give a man a fish you feed him for day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The same concept applies here. Once you’ve determined barriers to performance and removed them, let your employees contribute their ideas and come to their own solutions. Instead of axing decisions, help them nurture and improve on their own ideas. Ask good questions and let them solve problems on their own.

The most growth happens when your employees are pushed outside of their comfort zones. They are capable of much more than they (and sometimes you) realize and you need to give them room to experiment and innovate.

61 percent of employees who say they are satisfied with the amount of input they have in decisions affecting their work, are engaged, says the Dale Carnegie study.

Employees satisfied with their amount of input in decisions


Engagement feels like a buzzword, and has for many years. It feels like the thing everyone always talks about having, but no one actually knows how to attain it (if it’s even possible). But it is! And here is why its pursuit is so important:

  • According to Gallup, companies with engaged employees outperform others by as much as 202%.
  • The Dale Carnegie study found that “actively engaged employees are more productive, make more money for the company, stay with the organization longer, and are ethical and accountable, 69 percent of disengaged employees will leave for as little as a 5 percent pay increase, while only 25 percent of engaged employees will leave for the same amount.”
  • According to Gallup, compared with business units in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile of engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability.
  • Actively disengaged employees cost the United States $450 billion to $550 billion per year, says Gallup research.

As a manager, it is your responsibility to assess, improve and maintain engagement. It is undeniable that employee engagement matters not only to people’s happiness at work, but also to an organization’s bottom line. By coaching your employees consistently and effectively, you can develop genuine relationships with your employees, improve productivity and foster their growth and success.