Try this simple coaching technique for problem solving with your employees


No role comes without its challenges

It could be anything, from hitting a sales target or winning a tricky account, to implementing a new system or restructuring an internal process. Alternatively, your biggest challenge could simply be getting the best performance from your team.

No matter how common the problem, when it’s down to you to solve it, you can feel like you’re left alone, swimming against the tide.

For an employer, this is a high-pressure situation to be in. But it’s an equally damaging position leave your employees in. If your business doesn’t offer practical guidance to help employees tackle difficult tasks, morale can diminish and you could find yourself with a disengaged team.

So, what’s the best way to approach tough challenges?

Well, in our experience, the answers almost always lie within the problem itself. You need to try to help your employees draw these answers to the surface.

Luckily, there are practical coaching exercises to help you do so. These coaching exercises are not only valuable as a medium for solving difficult problems, but they also help to teach your employees the skills they need in order to tackle future challenges.

This is because these exercises are designed to aid the participant to reach the solution themselves, rather than providing them with direct instructions or straight answers. This will allow them to take ownership of the challenge, see it through to the end and feel assured by their own capabilities as a result.

Whatever the problem, breaking it down to evaluate it is a useful approach. Much like repairing a machine, examining the component parts will help you understand what needs to be done in order to fit it. Here’s one useful coaching exercise that helps you do exactly that:


Try asking the employee to think about and write down the…

1. Result

Ask them to outline what needs to be achieved. What are the stakeholders looking for? What does success look like? By defining (and agreeing) what the end results of the project or task should be, they are one step closer to finding to a place that everyone is happy with.

2. Efforts

They should think about the work that has already been done. What’s been tried so far? What’s been the outcome of these efforts? By being practical about what’s working and what isn’t, they are able to rule out further fruitless efforts down the line.

3. Alternatives

Ask them to explore additional options they may not have already tried. Do further research and note down any alternatives that you come across. Have you considered every option and eventuality? Don’t give up until you have.

4. Plan

From this research and reviewing, they should begin to think about the desired plan of action. How will they achieve the desired results, as outlined in point one? This is the point where the action plan is formulated and their ideas come together into a set of individual actions.

While there’s no set way to overcome challenges in the workplace, coaching your employees to apply a structure and set objectives at each stage is one manageable way to approach it. These steps are designed to help individuals gradually work through a problem in order to reach a natural resolution and plan of action.

In our experience whilst coaching SMEs, we’ve often found that sitting down with a colleague or associate and talking through the issue in these four stages is effective. The exercise opens up the conversation and makes it possible for new ideas and solutions to emerge. The process can also help employees to see their opinion and input is valued, which is hugely important to engagement.

We hope you find this practical advice useful, whether applied to your own challenges or those of your employees. It’s important to remember that business coaching is about learning how to discover better ways of working, rather than simply having someone provide you with the answers (which we can’t do, by the way!). As such, coaching can teach lifelong lessons in how to approach common difficulties, rather than pushing you towards quick fixes.

Want to find out more about the benefits of business coaching? Why not read our blog ‘Business coaching: What’s the added value?’ to discover the 5 key benefits of working with a coach.

Would you like to talk to an expert about coaching, or another area of your business? You can contact us on 0113 394 4559 or and we’ll be happy to help.