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Effective Coaching for Millennial's Peak Performance

by Harwant Khush, Ph.D., Research Consultant, Tero International

"Who exactly seeks out a coach? Winners who want more out of life."
-Chicago Tribune

In the 21st century, coaches and coaching are a fundamental and pervasive part of our daily lives. Life is fast, complicated, and lacking the time to learn skills on our own. Consequently, we hire professional individuals known as coaches to help us acquire new skills, achieve goals and attain peak performance. For the millennial generation, the most powerful and effective method to gain empowerment and to build confidence is from coaching.

A recent research study on coaching effectiveness reported that, "...96% of organizations saw individual performances improve after they introduced coaching. Nearly as many (92%) also reported improvements in leadership and management effectiveness (Coaching for the 21st Century)." Another study reported that, "Whether the company was high-tech or customer-centric, the results were universal: coaching is essential to managing Millennials effectively. Coaching does not need to take up much time. In fact, most Millennials prefer frequent, quick check-ins to a long conversation" (Coaching for Millenials).

The application of coaching has changed with the times, but the significance is still the same as its archaic meaning. Years ago, a coach was a horse-drawn buggy, a type of bus, or a trailer. No matter how these modes of transportation were used, the result was to take passengers from where they were to where they wanted to go (Coach). In these days, coaching is not a synonym for transportation, but it takes clients from where they are to where they want to be. Some of the most popular activities for which people seek coaching are sports, leadership, life-skills, career enhancement, and to improving communication and interpersonal skills. Through effective coaching, clients will achieve goals, enhance productivity, move out of learning plateaus, and be guided to higher skill levels.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is:

"Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential..." (International Coaching Federation).

"The art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another..." (Downey 2003).

"A collaborative, solution focused, result-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee." (Association for Coaching).

The common and a vital element to all these definitions is that coaching is a singular endeavor. Coaches may occasionally assume some extra roles such as counselors and advisors, but these activities are not central to coaching. The main distinguished features of coaching can be described as follows:

Characteristics of Coaching

Coaching Skills

Effective coaching requires that coaches be skilled subject-matter experts, as well as objective and unbiased individuals. Coaches build positive relationships, and show compassion to their clients.

According to a recent research article published in Harvard Business Review (HBR June 2016) some of the fundamental and specific skills that coaches should demonstrate are:

Effective Listeners: It involves listening without judgment, willingness to understand the concerns and needs of others.

Role Models: Coaches should be perceived as trustworthy and role models. Coaches should, "create an open, trusting environment by initiating positive interactions with others. Giving credit to others and looking for opportunities to recognize and praise others increases trust."

Collaborative: Coaches should look for opportunities to cooperate and collaborate with their clients and expect full client participation in the learning process. They help their clients open up opportunities for growth and enhancement in their clients' activities.

Coaching Process

There are numerous models to conduct coaching sessions. Theories from the Behavioral sciences and the Management Concepts are usually the basis of coaching process.

One such highly popular, widely used and easy to implement model is known by the acronym of GROW (The GROW Model). Each letter in the GROW indicates a vital part of the process and is built on by asking and driving information by multiple questions.


The process starts at the first meeting of a coach and a client. The coach may say:

Clients often specify their goals in generic terms that are ambiguous or vague with no clear sign of direction. By asking open-ended questions, the coach helps the clients translate those goals into specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound goals (also known as SMART goals).


Coaches need to obtain baseline information or conduct a reality check of clients to build a plan. The coach may have questions such as, "What is your current situation?" or "What are you doing to obtain the desired goals?"

This information may be obtained through diagnostic tests, interviews, questionnaires, filling out forms, practical exercises or just by asking questions.


After establishing the client's goals and reality, the coach wants to know what obstacles (constraints, limits or restraints) are hindering client's goals. This process involves questions such as:

Will or Way to go

The final stage is to help the client build a schedule and a timeline to implement the plan. The client is responsible to show a serious commitment to follow the plan and move forward. Meetings are scheduled to review the client's progress and setbacks, and to remove any deterrents.

In these days and age, it is a well-established fact that millennials would rather work with coaches than with bosses to enhance skills and obtain peak performance. Academy of Leadership Coaching states that, "Millennials want an advocate, someone who can be a champion for their ideas and create ways for them to be involved. They want a manager who can inspire them by setting high goals, talking about future possibilities and openly sharing the leadership potential they see in them." Millennials learn best from coaches who will empower them to make decisions; help pursue their goals and enhance confidence to achieve peak performance.

Click here to read Tero's approach to coaching.

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