By Terry Traut, Entelechy, Inc.

Sustained improved performance is a good thing, right? As leaders, we all want our employees to continually improve, to remain engaged, and to love their work. So, how do you get all that? We have all read how money is not a prime motivator for performance; paying someone more does not result in sustained improved performance. If money is not it, what is?

Inc. Magazine recently did a survey to find out what exactly does motivate people to work hard, to engage, to contribute, to give that extra bit. They found that employees want:

  1. To feel proud
  2. To be treated fairly
  3. To respect the boss
  4. To be heard out
  5. To have a personal life
  6. To be coached not micromanaged
  7. To see the assh*les get fired
  8. To feel less stress
  9. To have a little security
  10. To beat the competition

All of these wants scream for a hands-on leader, one who recognizes the business value of the employee-boss relationship. In my experience of over 21 years of developing leaders and managers, the best way–the most powerful way, the easiest way, the most effective way–for a manager to build that business relationship with his or her employee is by helping the employee excel at work. Effective leaders recognize the potential in others; they call it out; they help develop the talent and stretch and challenge the employee to do better–better even than the employee may believe himself or herself.

I just described a coach.

Actually, I described what a coach does. Effective business coaches also know how to coach. As Inc. Magazine pointed out in #6, employees do not want to be micromanaged and, apparently, some managers think that telling–micromanaging–is coaching.

There are many different definitions of coaching and techniques for coaching employees. My definition, based on training thousands of leaders at hundreds of organizations, is simple: Coaching is a deliberate ongoing conversation focusing on job-specific skills to help the employee take acceptable or good performance to great through self-assessment and discussion.

The job-specific focus is important. People want to succeed–excel–in their work. Coaches help them do that.

The self-assessment element is key; it is the difference between the boss telling me what to do and me figuring it out on my own. As an employee, I am more confident (and buy-in more completely) if I figure out what I am doing well and where I may be able to do better; as a leader or coach, I am more aware of the employee’s abilities if I listen rather than talk (and asking questions reduces my prep time significantly!).


Entelechy’s coaching model is simple and effective; it helps build job-related talent and engages employees. The model helps leaders build those critical relationships with employees–relationships that help employees grow and succeed and feel proud not only of their contributions, but also of their ability to self-assess and develop.

James, Geoffrey. (2013). 10 things employees want more than a raise. Retrieved from

TerenceTrautAbout the Author
Terence R. Traut is the president of Entelechy, Inc., a company that helps organizations unlock the potential of their people through customized training programs in the areas of leadership and management, customer service, sales, and training. Terence can be reached at 603-424-1237 or

To learn more about this and other knowledge building Educational Programs ( register for THE Performance Improvement Conference, April 13-16, 2014 in Indianapolis, IN (