3 Coaching Skills for Managers that Improve Trust and Well-Being

bigstock-164743001Coaching has a positive impact on follower trust, affect, and ultimately on performance and productivity. That’s the key takeaway from a new research report just released by The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Blanchard researchers surveyed 1,800 workers looking at the connections between trust, well-being and coaching behaviors.The research found that trust and well-being were both positively impacted by perceptions of managers engaging in three key behaviors.

  1. Facilitation: Helping employees to analyze and explore ways to solve problems and enhance their performance.
  1. Guidance: The communication of clear performance expectations and constructive feedback regarding performance outcomes, as well as how to improve.
  1. Inspiration: Challenging employees to realize and develop their potential.

Interested in strengthening the manager—direct report relationships in your organization?  A white paper which accompanies the research shares four coaching skills to help managers move away from some typical tendencies—telling people what to do, making assumptions, and solving problems—and instead adopt a coaching mindset. Here are the four skills to get started:

  • Listen to Learn: Effective managers listen to learn something they might not have known before. They listen for opportunities to hear a different perspective, to hear new ideas or insights. They listen in service to the person and to the conversation.
  • Inquire for Insight: Managers who are great coaches draw the brilliance out of their people. They ask questions that allow their people to share insights and ideas that can benefit projects, tasks, and the team in general. When inquiring for insight, it’s important to focus on the future rather than the past and to avoid placing blame.
  • Tell Your Truth: Being direct and candid can be a challenge for anyone, but done properly, telling your truth with others can be empowering to both parties. Because the goal is to create purposeful action through clarity, telling your truth is an opportunity to share observations or give feedback that will help the employee accomplish the goal.
  • Express Confidence: Managers who acknowledge direct reports and maintain a respectful, positive regard for their contribution are building the confidence of the people they manage. Expressing confidence allows a manager to preserve a good relationship regardless of the type of conversation being held. Expressing confidence builds self-assurance and enthusiasm.

You can access the white paper and see the complete research report by downloading, Coaching Skills: The Missing Link for Leaders

Research Details:

Approximately 1,850 people participated in the study, including human resource, learning and development, management, and non-management professionals to measure the various dimensions of coaching, trust, affect or emotion, and intentions (i.e., intent to remain with the organization, exert discretionary effort, endorse the organization, perform well, and be a good organizational citizen).

The measure used for coaching was Heslin’s (et al.) Employee Coaching Measure and the defined behaviors included Facilitation (acting as a sounding board, helping the direct report develop ideas), Inspiration (expressing confidence in the direct report’s ability to improve, and encouraging continuous development and improvement), and Guiding (providing guidance and feedback and providing constructive feedback regarding areas for improvement). The scale measures ten items on a 5-point Likert scale with response possibilities ranging from Not at all to To a very great extent.

The Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) constructed by Watson and Clark was used as the measure of affect. The PANAS, a semantic differential measure, has ten descriptive items such as Upset, Alert, Inspired, and Nervous, and uses a 5-point Likert scale ranging from Not at all to Strongly.

McAllister’s 11-item Trust scale was used to measure Affective Trust (I can talk freely to my leader to discuss difficulties I am having at work and know that he or she will want to listen) and Cognitive Trust (Given my leader’s track record, I see no reason to doubt his or her competence and preparation to do the job). The scale uses a 7-point Likert scale with response possibilities ranging from Strongly disagree to Strongly agree.

Blanchard’s Work Intention Inventory (WII) was also included; it uses five intention measures, including Intent to exert discretionary effort on behalf of the organization (I intend to volunteer to do things that may not be part of my job), Intent to perform (I intend to work efficiently to achieve all my work goals), Intent to endorse the organization (I intend to talk positively about this organization to family and friends), Intent to remain with the organization (I intend to stay with this organization even if offered a more appealing job elsewhere), and Intent to be a good organizational citizen (I intend to respect this organization’s assets). From earlier research, Blanchard found that these work intentions ultimately predict behavior. When the scores in the five intention scales are high, it’s an indication of the presence of positivity and high levels of work passion. The five intention scales each contain three items and use a 6-point Likert scale with response possibilities ranging from To no extent to To the fullest extent.


Fielden, Sandra. 2005. “Literature Review: Coaching Effectiveness—A Summary.” Prepared for the NHS Leadership Centre.

Heslin, Peter A.; Vandewalle, Don; and Latham, Gary P. 2006. “Keen to Help? Managers’ Implicit Person Theories and Their Subsequent Employee Coaching.” Personnel Psychology 59: 871–902.

McAllister, D. J., “Affect and Cognitive-based Trust as Foundations for Interpersonal Cooperation in Organizations.” Academy of Management Journal, 38 (1): (1995) 24-59.

Theeboom, Tim; Beersma, Bianca; and van Vianen, Annelies E.M. 2014. “Does Coaching Work? A Meta-Analysis on the Effects of Coaching on Individual Level Outcomes in an Organizational Context.” The Journal of Positive Psychology (9)1: 1–18.

Watson, D.; Clark, L. A.; Tellegen, A. (1988). “Development and Validation of Brief Measures of Positive and Negative Affect: The PANAS Scales”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 54 (6): 1063–1070. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.54.6.1063. PMID 3397865.

Zigarmi, D., Nimon, K., Houson, D., Witt, D., and Diehl, J. (2012). The work intention inventory: Initial evidence of construct validity. Journal of Business Administration Research, 1 (1), 24–42. doi: 10.50430/jbar.vlnp24

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