Training Read Time: 23 minutes

How to create a coaching program for employees and improve business performance

Image of Fredrik Selander
Fredrik Selander
Published: Mar 28, 2024
Updated: May 03, 2024


How to create a coaching program for employees and improve business performance

A 2023 report states that 57% of surveyed HR managers agree that coaching improves organisational performance.

Coaching might not be the first priority in your list of L&D initiatives. However, it's becoming increasingly vital for enhancing the impact of other training activities and upgrading both individual and organisational performance. 

What's more, recent crisis events across the globe reinforce the significance of coaching programs intended to support employees. For example, Kiplinger talks about financial coaching for employees.

With this blog post, we aim to guide you on how to create a coaching program and show that it can be simple and budget-friendly. Especially with modern tools and techniques.


Understanding employee coaching

Employee coaching is a form of employee development where an experienced person with coaching skills supports an employee in achieving specific professional goals.

Coaching is very effective for acquiring soft skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork, strategic thinking, time management, and problem-solving. To earn such skills it isn't enough to learn the concept, employees need practice and constant feedback.

Here is how coaching differs from mentoring and training. Unlike in many coaching programs mentoring is less structured and based on a mentor's personal experience.

While training is more structured and general than coaching. The purpose of training is to learn specific knowledge, while coaching's purpose is individual goal achievement.


Why do organisations progressively implement coaching programs? Here are at least two strong reasons:

  • Increased employee job satisfaction and consequently improved retention.

  • Better knowledge comprehension through a personalised approach and active learning leads to improved performance and faster transition to new roles.

Employee coaching program real-life examples

Explore these examples of employee coaching programs for insights and inspiration on what they can look like.


One of their upskilling opportunities, Career Choice, covers full college tuition. In 2022, it was extended with coaching help from Amazon partners.

The program extension offers virtual one-on-one coaching to aid employees in finding educational programs that match their skills and career plans. They also receive continuous support from online coaches throughout their academic journey.

By this extension, Amazon improves and empowers the current program with personalised guidance, making it more effective.


Instead of annual performance reviews, Adobe implemented the Check-in program. Employees have a centralised hub related to their performance and career growth: set individual goals, build their career paths with relevant tools, get feedback from stakeholders, and have quarterly check-in conversations with managers.


One of Cisco's coaching options is the Leadership coaching program. They offer personalised coaching packages for leaders at every level, focusing on strengths. Through a partnership with BetterUp, leaders get unlimited sessions over six months. In 2023, about 1000 leaders gained from this program.


Laying the groundwork for your coaching program

Inspired by world-known employee coaching examples, let’s discover how to create a coaching program that will work for your company.

To launch an effective coaching program that will impact organisational performance, we need to start with setting objectives and planning.

1. Identify your company coaching needs

Go from your company's priority business needs and goals for this quarter or year. And brainstorm which soft skills are important and which groups of employees they're relevant to for reaching these goals.

You might have an obvious communication problem. For example, several employees complain about one colleague. You may want to upgrade your employees to better face global challenges such as COVID, war, or economic crises, which disrupt work and demand specific skill development.

If your company plans to expand into new markets, your coaching program may be focused on cross-cultural communication and adaptive leadership.

If your main goal is to enhance employee engagement and retention over the long term, establishing a coaching culture is a logical step to take. This involves integrating coaching into everyday work life.

When you have a list of skills that will benefit from a coaching program, now you need to prioritise those that have the highest impact on the company as a whole. Then, consider the resources required for coaching each skill. For instance, you might have internal expertise that will be cheaper than hiring external coaches for some skills.

The aim is to approximately calculate the potential ROI from engaging in coaching initiatives. Create your first coaching program directing those high-impact and low-cost coaching needs.


2. Set measurable objectives for the coaching program

One of the L&D trends for 2024 is 'Learning with purpose'. So, identifying the right coaching needs isn't enough. You need to prove its impact on achieving business objectives.

However, the impact of a coaching program is notoriously hard to measure - individual practice with no oversight of stakeholders, inconsistent practices among professional coaches, and individual impact in an online group coaching program. It is difficult but not impossible.

As coaching is a very personalised type of L&D, we suggest focusing on tracking it at the individual level, with following business goal achievement as a secondary metric. Based on your coaching needs, you can set the following measurable objectives:

  • Improvement in individual general performance.

  • Improvement in individual performance in a particular skill.

  • Employee satisfaction score.

  • Retention rate.

  • Promotability of employees.

  • The availability of “ready-now” talent to fill key positions.

  • Experience and engagement differences between employees who receive coaching and those who do not.

An example of a coaching objective based on a well-known SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) framework: Reduce misunderstandings in team communications by 20% within three months.

3. Set employee coaching budget

By setting an approximate budget for coaching, you'll have a clearer idea of which coaches you can afford to hire and which tools you should prioritise. 

Start with assessing your current training priorities, budget, and costs. Based on the information, fix a spending cap for your first coaching program with a small reserve for unforeseen expenses. If the program is successful, you can then ask for a budget increase.

If you don't have specific budget limits, start by assessing your coaching program needs. Read the entire article first, then determine the cost of a successful coaching program for your company.

If your budget is too limited, engage motivated managers and employees with coaching skills. Also, review your current learning materials and leverage AI tools such as Lingio to quickly generate captivating and mobile-based coaching courses for internal coaches. Here is a detailed guide on how to make a course using AI.


Designing your coaching program

With your coaching needs and objectives at hand, you are now ready to clarify how to create an online coaching program and what format, materials, and tools to choose.

1. Choose coaching formats

Coaching is, by default, a personalised practice. Try to organise formats that fit your company culture and coaching objectives and are comfortable and practical for targeted employees. Be prepared to experiment and gather employee feedback. 

There are four primary formats:

1. The one-on-one coaching program: When a coach meets individually with an employee to achieve their personal development goals. Companies typically choose this type of coaching for leadership development programs to address unique managers' challenges and leverage personal strengths.

2. Group coaching program: When a coach works with a team to achieve shared or complementary goals. A coach may observe a team in their usual work setting, offering suggestions for improvements either to the group as a whole, to individuals, or both.

3. Peer-to-peer coaching: These programs imply employees coaching each other: sharing knowledge, skills, and experiences. You will match peer coaches as you do with one-on-one coaching. This format is good for building empathy, which comes from learning through relationships.

4. Reverse coaching: A new approach where younger or less experienced employees coach more senior team members. Junior employees share their fresh perspectives and knowledge, particularly in technology, social media, and current trends. This coaching format helps build relationships across generations, encourages diversity, and leads to cultural change.


2. Select the right coaches

This is likely the most important step in how to develop a coaching program. Coaches directly influence the program's future success. A poor coach or mentor can do more harm than good. For example, demotivating an employee instead of inspiring them will lead to outcomes contrary to your coaching objectives.

Let's begin by discussing whether you need to select internal or external coaches.

Internal vs. external coaches

Internal coaches are typically company managers with coaching skills. Companies also sometimes hire a full-time professional coach as a member of the HR team.

Internal coaches have deep knowledge about the company, culture, employees, and their challenges, and can reinforce company values. However, they may be biassed because of past relationships with employees and be missing an outside perspective. Also, managers as internal coaches will require coaching training and your facilitation.

External coaches represent a coaching business and you hire them as contractors. Companies employ external coaches to introduce novel perspectives, and specialised knowledge with their own signature coaching program. They can provide sensitive feedback aimed at enhancing client performance. Though external coaching services are far more expensive and it may take some time before external coaches will learn your organisational specifics.


Based on's 2023 report, 92% of surveyed organisations hire external coaches for some coaching. The evidence shows that the investment is indeed worthwhile for most businesses.

The choice between internal and external coaches lies in your coaching objective and budget. If you are planning to launch a leadership development coaching program, you are likely to choose external coaches. This external viewpoint helps in identifying blind spots and areas for growth that might not be evident within the organisation's internal dynamics. While if you are focused on performance coaching, internal coaches might be more effective because they are familiar with internal processes and challenges.

Generally, some experts advise leveraging the benefits of both external and internal coaches. Internal coaches offer daily guidance to their reports, while external coaches specialise in enhancing managers' leadership abilities.


How to train your managers in coaching

1. Provide them with courses to learn basic coaching concepts. Use existing coaching courses for leaders or create them in-house. Coaching courses typically cover topics such as goal setting, relationship building, handling conflict, stress management, overcoming limiting cognitive biases, feedback techniques, change management, and self-care. Make sure the content is full of real-world coaching examples with scenarios and questions.

2. Create practice opportunities. Initiate role-playing exercises to train active listening and asking powerful questions.

3. Have an expert to observe and provide feedback on how employees perform in real-life simulations and then in real coaching sessions.

4. Create a peer support group with employees who are trained in coaching to discuss coaching challenges and solutions. Ideally, have a professional coach to moderate such meetings.


How to choose external coaching services

Given the significant cost and impact of external coaches, we advise allocating ample time for their selection process.

According to the 2023 report, coach experience is the most popular criterion for contracting external coaches. It may include evaluating their case studies on how their previous coaching clients succeed, industry knowledge, and years of experience.

The second widespread criterion is speciality. There are different coaches for career development, building leadership skills, and dealing with business issues. Filter external coaches based on your coaching program objective and focus.

The graph below showcases other most common criteria on which you can base your decision.


Once you shortlist your external coaches, it's time for a deeper evaluation of cultural fit. Interview coaches to understand their coaching philosophy and methods.

Think about running a pilot coaching session to observe a coach's interaction style and effectiveness in engaging and understanding your employees.

Consider the feedback from employees who will receive coaching.

3. Prepare coaching content

We recommend creating a coaching library for your coaching program where internal coaches and employees can get relevant templates, guides, and learning materials.

Review our non-exhaustive list of coaching program templates and guides you can add to your library.

1. Coaching plan template: The plan is about how to structure a coaching program for an individual. A coaching plan includes the coachee's goal, timelines, ways to measure progress, approximate areas of focus (to be refined during the coaching program), and strategies for overcoming potential challenges.

2. Coaching session template: The blueprint defines the coaching session structure. It isn't about rigid format, but about staying organised and reaching coaching objectives. The coaching session structure may be the following: small talk, reflection on the progress, session goal setting, coaching questions, setting actionable steps, and session summary. Refine the structure based on your company case.

3. Goal setting template: There are multiple goal-setting frameworks you can choose as your template: SMART, OKR, BHAGs, GROW, GIST, etc. Revisit your coaching objectives and select an appropriate framework. For example, OKRs for alignment and engagement across teams, or BHAGs for long-term visionary goals.

4. Feedback forms: These assist employees and coaches in providing clear, constructive, and actionable feedback. Such forms include open questions and scales that are then easier to analyse. You can prepare feedback templates for employees to share their opinions about the coaching program, general peer feedback, manager feedback about coaching, and employee job satisfaction surveys.

5. Self-assessment worksheet: Employee self-evaluation forms assist in reflecting on their performance, strengths, areas for improvement, and professional development goals. The document prepares an employee for a coaching session and facilitates meaningful conversations between employees and their coaches.

6. Group coaching program template: As with individual coaching, group coaching also benefits from structure. Consider including team goals, participants, session topics and activities, and timelines.

Additionally,  be prepared to collaborate with coaches on providing relevant training materials for achieving an employee's goals during a coaching journey. 

You can combine using your existing training materials and create new materials customised to your business.


4. Pick supporting coaching tools

Here are some of the tools you can start with. 

Lingio for content creation

Use Lingio’s AI course creation software to make the process of creating coaching content quick, smooth, and cost-effective. 

Just submit your training material to the AI Course Creator. You don't need to learn how to create a coaching course. With just a few clicks, you can create and distribute an interactive online course tailored for your organisation. Such courses have quizzes and scenario-based exercises. Watch the video below to see how it works.

Aside from developing courses, with Lingio, you can also track your employees' progress with coaching courses.



BetterUp as a coaching platform

BetterUp is a full-scale coaching platform with a network of coaches, content, and community. One of their products is Better Manage which creates structured development journeys for managers with the help of AI.

They have analytics to monitor how employee coaching impacts your business and integrations with leading enterprise systems across HCM, SSO, content, and video conferencing.

How-To-Create-A-Coaching-Program-For-Employees_-Step-by-Step-Guide. - 4

Grain for online coaching notes

Grain records and converts your meeting notes into text and provides a summary. The tool allows you to highlight and comment on particular statements. It smoothly integrates with all major video conferencing software and Slack, Productboard, Hubspot, Salesforce, and Zapier.


Grain for online coaching notes

Grain records and converts your meeting notes into text and provides a summary. The tool allows you to highlight and comment on particular statements. It smoothly


Poised for communication coaching software

Poised uses AI to train users' public speaking and coaching skills. The software analyses video and audio and gives real-time feedback. The platform keeps track of your growth, alerting you about ongoing speech patterns that need improvement and recognising your progress. Poised integrates with 800+ communication tools including Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.

How-To-Create-A-Coaching-Program-For-Employees_-Step-by-Step-Guide - 3


Implementing the coaching program

Now you know how to design a coaching program. With your chosen coaches, prepared program content, and tools, you are ready to release your coaching program. Here are the steps for a successful launch.

1. Communicate the program

Coaching is a rather sensitive and personal activity with outcomes that are not always straightforward. Therefore, it's a great idea to discuss your coaching program content with participants before its launch.

Present and explain the prepared coaching program to establish the right expectations for both employees and leadership. During such a presentation, you can also address objections, discuss any doubts, and answer participants' questions.


2. Establish logistics

  • Clarify if coaching sessions will be virtual or in-person. Make sure relevant tools or places are accessible.

  • Define the coaching sessions' frequency. For example, if there is a demanding communication problem in one of your teams you might arrange two sessions per week initially. However, bi-weekly meetings might suffice for an experienced executive undergoing a long-term leadership program.

  • Specify a coaching session length. Sessions length may last from 30 to 90 minutes. Shorter sessions (30-60 minutes) are effective for focused topics or follow-ups, while longer sessions (up to 90 minutes) are suitable for deep dives or initial meetings. Group sessions may also require more time due to the number of participants.

  • Set the coaching program duration. A coaching program may last from a few weeks to 6-12 months, or it could even become long-lasting and evolve into a coaching culture. Again, it depends on your coaching objectives. For example, if the objective is to improve communication skills across a team, a shorter program of three to four months may be enough.

3. Pilot test your coaching program

It is a good practice to beta-test any L&D program before launching to the whole organisation. It can validate the impact of the new program for sceptical executives and ensure efficient resource utilisation.

Start with a smaller group of employees who weren't coached before but are in the group you are planning to target. Discuss the program with them and conduct several coaching sessions.

Then collect their feedback about their:

  • Satisfaction levels

  • Coach-coachee match

  • Changes in performance or behaviour

  • Areas for improvement in content or delivery

  • Suggestions for additional topics or support

  • Overall alignment with professional development goals


4. Measure progress

As we already discussed it isn't that easy to measure the impact of a coaching program. However, it is a feasible and highly recommended practice.

Once you set a measurable coaching objective, you can track if you are moving toward the outcome. You can employ coaching platforms that help with tracking individual goals and performance and collecting feedback.

Measure progress during the coaching program to make adjustments along the way, when it is finished, and afterwards - to track the sustainability of coaching methods and outcomes.


Final thoughts: how to create coaching program

To improve organisational performance with your coaching program, dedicate special attention to defining your priority business needs and coaching objectives and choosing the right coaches.

After you have learned how to build a coaching program with your first initiative, consider building a coaching culture. It enhances your corporate culture and makes your company a more desirable workplace. It creates a space where employees are driven to excel, openly share ideas, and commit to ongoing learning.

Focus on building such a culture and let AI tools like Lingio handle content creation.


FAQs about how to create a coaching program for employees

1. How should you coach employees with negative attitudes?

Wondering how to coach employees with negative attitudes? Follow this 6 step process:

1. Learn why they have a negative attitude.

2. Communicate clear coaching goals and how they personally benefit from the program.

3. Prove a coach's expertise.

4. Personalise teaching style.

5. Consider improving internal coaches' skills or replacing your current external coaches.

6. Think about alternative development formats.


2. What are key best practices for coaching employees?

Here are some of the tips that can help you create your coaching program better:

  • Educate managers and individual contributors about the coaching concept and how it works.

  • Implement a variety of coaching styles to make it effective for all employees.

  • Review and leverage the L&D resources you already have for developing a coaching program.

  • Implement tools to assist both coaches and coachees.

  • Regularly consult with employees in coaching on how effective they find the development program.


3. How should you start building a coaching culture?

To build a coaching culture, follow this 6-step process:

1. Run a pilot employee coaching program to demonstrate its effectiveness.

2. Get a buy-in from top management.

3. Initiate coaching courses to train leaders and managers.

4. Provide coaching workshops for all employees to encourage self-coaching and peer-to-peer support.

5. Acknowledge individuals who actively engage in coaching with awards and recognition.

6. Reinforce a culture of continuous learning and mutual support.

Image of Fredrik Selander
Fredrik Selander
Fredrik Selander is the Head of Marketing at Lingio, an edtech company specializing in a Gamified Employee Training. With a passion for technology, aviation, and the limitless potential of generative AI, Fredrik brings a creative and innovative perspective to his work. His love for travel fuels his curiosity, making him a dynamic force in the world of digital marketing.

Table of contents

How to create a coaching program for employees and improve business performance

Understanding employee coaching

Laying the groundwork for your coaching program

Designing your coaching program

Implementing the coaching program

Final thoughts: how to create coaching program

FAQs about how to create a coaching program for employees


Start coaching your employees today!


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