At the Intersection of COVID and Coaching:
3 strategies for supporting your team

Posted by Lisa Harrison - July 08, 2020


Maybe you have heard the saying, “Life is always a bumpy road. Eventually you just learn to drive on it.” I think it is safe to say no one was prepared to drive life and work during a pandemic! There is no one-size-fits-all easy fix to supporting your associates during this time, but the few key coaching tips I’ll share with you today will give you a great start on the journey with benefits that will last long down the road.

With change seemingly the name of the game during the coronavirus climate, one thing remains steadfast: an organization’s people are still its greatest strengths.  And coaching in the workplace – an approach of growing people by people – has shifted from primarily achieving organizational goals to supporting associates’ basic needs to help them operate within a very different environment. Everyday business concerns are taking a back seat to ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone within the organization, whether they are back in the office, working from home, or taking a wait-and-see approach.

Wherever you are on the back-to-work spectrum, use these three strategies for long-term impact:

Start with a few to grow the many

Once clear, defined policies and protocols for re-entering the workplace are established, you can move on to the next step of identifying coaching candidates. Managers who show potential to be great coaches are those who are naturally good at asking questions, listening with empathy, showing humility, and putting associates before themselves. They show the most natural ability to lead, and these qualities are paramount after a crisis. Assign them team members to guide. The policies and protocols you implemented in your back-to-work strategy will be helpful tools for your coaches during this time of transition and help grow them toward future leadership training and mentoring opportunities.


Add concrete tasks to the process

For example, have those you have designated as having leadership qualities reach out to associates assigned to them at least once a week to check in with specific questions: How was the week? What highs and lows did they experience? What support or tools do they need from you and the organization? Most importantly, make sure the feedback reaches the people best able to act on it. If Mary in accounting needs additional PPE in her department, make sure the request reaches the proper person who can accommodate the request. The important thing to remember as a coach is that each person’s emotional and physical needs are different, so too should be the response to them.


Lead by being flexible

What works one week might not work the next, and what works for one associate may not for another. Also, keep an eye on elements like CDC postings. How do the current CDC guidelines impact your workspace? Do office spaces need to be configured based on this week’s findings? Does PPE need to be added or relaxed? Do adjustments need to be made to your team’s schedules to accommodate their needs in this environment? Review the requirements and communicate updates often to reassure your associates you care about their health and safety.

Laying the foundation

Coaching supports employees in becoming their best work selves. Coaching for this moment - and in this place where it intersects with the coronavirus - means coaching to your employees’ professional, emotional, and physical needs.  

These three strategies will help you provide the essential emotional and physical care your team needs now and lay the foundation to earn their commitment, creativity, empowerment, accountability, improved performance, and morale that will drive the entire organization toward long-term success. The guidance that stems from coaching now is critical to the challenges that will be a part of your re-entry into the workplace and your success moving forward.

Have questions or want to share if coaching is part of your re-entry strategy? Leave a comment and let us know about your experiences!

Looking for resources to move your training to online? Check out our article, 4 Tips for Pivoting your Training.

Topics: leadership and development, coaching

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