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Why coaching is crucial to HR

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Coaching should be a key focus for HR professionals. If you want the most out of staff and want them to progress, they need to be provided with the appropriate mentorship to hone their skill set.

Harrison.ai’s chief people and culture officer Nicole Karagiannis discussed her relationship with coaching and how it is a crucial part of being an HR leader.

“I have a passion [for] both leadership and coaching and have, in recent years, pursued both an executive coaching career and a master’s in leadership. And they tie into the HR space so strongly and so beautifully,” Ms Karagiannis said.


“As an HR professional, you’re only as effective as your people leaders. You can’t sit there worrying about hundreds or thousands of employee engagements as a small team. It’s not scalable. So, you have to work really strongly and you have to partner with your people leaders.”

An area where coaching can help elevate management duties is when needing to have difficult conversations. In business, these discussions happen. Ms Karagiannis said that you’d be able to reach conclusions more effectively when using coaching.

“The nice link to that is the coaching and tying that into those difficult conversations. It’s about the importance of having a coaching moment,” she said.

Ms Karagiannis explained: “And we promote that a lot in the context of find the right time and space and go back and have a coaching moment with the individual, whether it’s a people leader or an employee. It’s very important to go back and close the loop.”

There are times when these difficult conversations won’t be as effective, and that’s when emotions come into play. Ms Karagiannis noted that you have to allow time for feelings to settle, as they will affect your coaching ability.

“A really critical piece to this is emotional intelligence. You’re not going to have a coaching moment with me when I’m upset … [or if] I’m distracted. Or if there’s something going on in my personal life that I’m not even going to pay attention to the feedback you’re giving me,” Ms Karagiannis said.

“So, a lot of what we talk about is, firstly, find the right moment. And generally, the best thing to do is for people leaders to say, for example … ‘Let’s resolve the problem that’s led you to this point, but then let’s go ahead back and have a coaching moment,’ be it tomorrow, or be it two days after.”

“Don’t leave it too long, but at the same time, have an appreciation from a neuroscience point of view that if someone’s upset, they’re not going to be listening to your feedback. Or if they’re busy or you’ve really picked the wrong moment, and that’s going to cause more damage than not. But don’t leave it too long and give them a chance to sleep on it,” she outlined.

Coaching should be incorporated into any discussion with staff. You want the most out of your employees, and to get that, you need to be open to educating them.

Ms Karagiannis added: “We have this big culture of mistakes are great, mistakes are welcome, let’s make them, but we don’t follow through and say, ‘What have you learned from that mistake?’ As a society, I think we need to do more of that. And whether it’s with children, or whether it’s at work, it’s about what have you learned and having the courage to put words to that lesson so that you carry it with you and hopefully learn and grow from that and be a better person for it.”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation with Nicole Karagiannis on 8 February is below, and the original podcast article can be found here




Coaching differs from training in that it frequently focuses on a narrower range of abilities or jobs. This might be done as a part of personnel upskilling or performance management. Both internal trainers and outside coaches may carry out this task. Coaching occasionally includes assessments and performance feedback.


Mentoring pairs up less experienced workers with more seasoned ones to provide coaching, training, and development. This can be done informally or formally, with meetings and quantified results.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.