Why coaching can help you retain your people

Maybe it won’t surprise you, but studies show that 50% of people would fire their boss if they could. On top of that, 40% of employees between the ages of 24 and 35 are thinking about quitting their job.

Those are some pretty sobering statistics.

It seems that overall, we’re doing a shoddy job of keeping people engaged and supported at work. Over 53% of organisations right now are facing talent shortages. The Great Resignation is still affecting industries around the globe and, unless leadership improves, it will continue to be a problem for leaders and organisations alike.

But here’s where we can start making a huge difference without too much extra effort – by improving our coaching skills as leaders.

When managers coach their teams, there’s a 10-20% increase in employee satisfaction. Communication, collaboration and conflict management all improve by 50%. Productivity and business success goes through the roof too.

Unlike the sobering statistics I’ve quoted above, these statistics are much more upbeat and hopeful!

It makes a lot of sense – not just for your team, but also for your organisational success – to improve and increase your coaching practice as a leader. But what does that look like in reality? And where do you start?

It’s all about active listening and asking great questions…

One of the fundamental principles of coaching is to do less talking and telling –  and do more listening and asking powerful questions. 

Although it’s a simple concept, for many of us, its harder to put into practice. ‘Advice giving’ feels good to the advice giver! And active listening is harder to nail than you think. But it’s a noble pursuit.

You’ve hired people for a reason. They’re probably smart, capable, and experienced in their field. But there are probably also a lot of thoughts, ideas and even concerns that they might be holding in – and these are the things that great coaching questions can help you uncover.

Some useful coaching questions to use liberally….

The goal of a great coaching question is to start a conversation that opens up new ways of thinking and deeper clarity. Try and stay away from closed questions or questions that make assumptions. For example, starting a conversation with a question like “Why don’t you like X?” locks the person answering into an apparent opinion about X before they’ve even started.

Instead, seek out open-ended questions that encourage introspection, but also point to specific outcomes. Here are a few go-tos that are great starting points for coaching conversations:

● What do you want to achieve?
● What does success look like in this situation? How will we know?
● What do you want? (a simple, but powerful coaching question)
● What are some potential roadblocks here? How do you get in your own way?
● If any actions are possible, what would they be?
● In a best-case scenario, what would X look like?
● What is the drive for you? Why is this important to you?
● If you can’t achieve X, what will that be like?
● Where has this happened in the past?
● What are our options?
● What advice would you give to a friend if they were in the same situation?
● What are the risks of X?
● And what else?
● What effect does that have? (on you/others/the organisation?)

Deepen your relationships and help your team members feel more connected, confident and clear about their role. The result will be a stronger, happier team that will stick around and keep adding value.

If you want to equip your emerging leaders with more great leadership skills, check out my emerging
leaders programme, The Leader’s Map.


  1. Megan on June 30, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    Coaching is always a great way to cultivate a relationship of helping, building trust and collaboration. This allows mentors to help people to grow and bring out their individual qualities, rather than being told what to do to do my their leader. Great read, Suzi!

  2. Dennis Vogel on June 2, 2023 at 7:58 am

    Suzi, Maybe “50% of people would fire their boss if they could” because bosses should be more humble.

    In response to “What advice would you give to a friend if they were in the same situation?” & “Advice giving feels good to the advice giver!”

    It’s easy to stroke our egos by feeling authoritative enough to diagnose problems & dispense solutions. We should know ourselves well enough to realize if we detect potential problems. Would we feel bad about letting people struggle forward or possibly hurt themselves or others? How would we feel knowing people could’ve avoided pain if we’d have offered advice?
    We can preface advice with cautious humility: “As a coach, I’m an outsider compared to you since you’re directly involved.” OR “It seems this isn’t any of my business because I can walk away without any apparent accountability.”

    We can ask for permission to offer help: “If I turn away without trying to help, I’d feel I’m abandoning you. Based on my observation & outsider knowledge-base, if you do ABC, you might stop XYZ, but that won’t stop UVW & could cause RST. Thank you for listening. I can walk away knowing I offered help. If you want me to explain me more please ask or contact me later.”

    We can use your questions above to clarify issue for ourselves & those who need help.

    Thank you for reading. Now I click away unless you have questions & want to check my blog (link is below.

    Dennis S. Vogel

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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