Game-Changing Leadership: Coaching Strategies to Elevate Employee Career Wellbeing

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

– Timothy Gallwey

Gallup’s study on the 5 Elements of Wellbeing revealed Career Wellbeing as the element having the greatest impact on overall wellness (including social, financial, physical and community wellbeing). Career Wellbeing is defined as “liking what you do every day.” Meaningful work is part of living a fulfilling life.

The significance of Career Wellbeing is further highlighted in Gallup’s follow-up book, Wellbeing at Work. This study supports the belief that managers have the biggest impact on an employee’s engagement at work.

The research they gathered identified four risks to a “net thriving culture” at work, including:

  1. Employee Mental Health
  2. Lack of Clarity & Purpose
  3. Overreliance on Policies, Programs & Perks
  4. Poorly Skilled Managers

Among these risks, Gallup’s study on Career Wellbeing emphasizes the importance of strong leadership (risk #4) in enhancing Career Wellbeing. Poor leadership skills are the greatest risk to employee disengagement. Strong leadership is the biggest influence on employee engagement and in turn, on employee career wellness. This is not surprising since managers are on the front lines of the day-to-day lives of employees.

Lately, managers are taking a different approach to leading, shifting from traditional “management” to a more impactful “coaching” mindset. This approach emphasizes the importance of fostering independence and autonomy while providing meaningful feedback and guidance.

So, what does it mean to “coach” employees? This approach requires leaders to put on their mentor hat and involves more mutual collaboration, dialogue and active listening when providing feedback. When managers can engage in regular, consistent, and meaningful feedback, they can impact their employees more effectively, especially those who work hybrid or remote.

Gallup research found that “Fully remote teams can substantially outperform on site teams when they are managed effectively.” Read that once more. The study impresses upon the leader the utmost importance of good mentorship and coaching for employees and the value of providing meaningful feedback.

Here are four tips for managers for providing effecting coaching:

Strategy 1: Look for Opportunities to Give Regular Feedback

Give each employee meaningful feedback ONCE A WEEK as a minimum requirement. Welcome invitations and opportunities for additional feedback sessions.

One of my clients reported that when they reached out to their manager requesting a meeting to discuss program development opportunities, the manager responded via email asking, “what exactly do you want to know?”

My client responded with a summary but was cut off by her manager with a response stating that her request “wasn’t possible” at that time and that no meeting was needed to discuss.

Instead, the manager may have followed through with the proposed meeting (fostering a feeling of being valued within the employee) with an open mind. They could have practiced active listening, asked questions, and challenged the employee to continue finding solutions alongside them to combat barriers and solve problems.

Strategy 2: Continually Ask for Feedback

Feedback should be offered in BOTH DIRECTIONS. Employees should be encouraged to ask for feedback and leaders should also request feedback from their employees. 

Keep in mind, though, that this only works if there is a culture of openness and opportunities for ongoing growth and development. As a leader, are you open to areas for improvement when a colleague or employee provides feedback? Or do you take it in, reflect, and produce a plan of action for improving? Modeling HOW to receive feedback creates an environment of trust and encourages feedback upwards.

Additionally, managers should also avoid “the feedback sandwich” i.e., negative feedback followed up by a positive comment. When giving positive and/or negative feedback, it should be given separately. Positive feedback is best provided in short bursts, outside of “feedback sessions” while negative feedback should be given in isolated, collaborative meetings that allow opportunity for candid dialogue.

Strategy 3: Give Timely and Individualized Feedback

Provide INDIVIDUALIZED feedback based on an individual’s goals and strengths. TIMELINESS is important and should be provided as close as possible to the accomplishment or learning opportunity or completed project. Timing is everything. Don’t necessarily wait until the annual review to provide feedback, as the feedback may not have the kind of impact you want if it’s a distant memory.

The absolute best way to engage an employee is to follow their progress and to get to know them as people with lives and a whole personality that contribute to the success of their work. Get to know your people and do not delay. This is most effective when done consistently and frequently, making it a more practiced habit rather than a scheduled meeting.

Strategy 4: Watch your language!

Do not provide correction and advice. Instead, coach and inspire employees to come up with solutions themselves. This builds trust and safety.  The coaching approach encourages listening carefully for employee strengths and creative ideas and then allowing them freedom to employ those ideas independently or with minimal oversight. These strategies will help employees feel empowered and confident to contribute to overall growth of the company.

Here is the difference in language and approach between coaching and advice:

Giving Advice


You should approach it this way to solve the problem…

What are some alternative approaches that you have thought about to handle this situation?

If I were you, I would handle it by doing…

Can you describe a time when you successfully dealt with a similar issue? What do you believe contributed to the success you experienced?

Follow these steps to overcome the challenge…

What strengths or skills can you leverage to overcome this challenge?

In my opinion, the best way to handle this is…

What resources or support do you think would be most helpful for you in this situation?

I consistently tell my clients that I do not make it a customary practice to “give advice.” Instead, I see myself more as a mentor, coach, or guide for them to reach their potential in their personal life and in their work. This requires asking a lot of exploratory questions to encourage the client to become more curious about themselves and the problem they are trying to solve.

I ask questions such as “What strategies in the past have you found the most helpful?” or “If you had all the resources in the world, how would you accomplish this goal?” and “What do you believe is getting in the way of accomplishing this task?”

By “coaching” employees, you are supporting employee career wellbeing and garnering more trust which in turn leads to employee growth and meaningful output.


Clifton, Jim & Harter, Jim. Wellbeing at Work, Gallop Press, 2021. 1st Edition.

Harter, Jim. Wellbeing. The Five Essential Elements, Gallop Press, 2021. 3rd Edition.  


About the Author:

Dr. Kate Burton is a core member of the +One team. She is a Doctor of Psychology and former Clinical Psychologist, practicing for 15 years working with people of all ages, couples, and families with diverse needs and goals. She uses this background as a foundation for her consultation and coaching practice, applying her clinical skills to guide and mentor managers, business owners, and executives to create a more positive and productive workplace culture. Dr. Burton initiates change by creating mutual relationships built on trust. She is dedicated to understanding complicated relationship dynamics in order to foster more interpersonal effectiveness, motivation, and high satisfaction in the workplace.