Coaching calls for a sharp focus on employees—and on your own communication and management skills. To be an effective coach to your workforce, remember this elemental advice:

1. Observe. Coaches need to be adept at getting information from employees without making people feel as if they’re being interrogated or spied on. Talk to your people and observe them at work to identify skill deficiencies and any other areas of their job they might be confused about.

2. Listen—and watch. Whenever you talk to employees, listen carefully to what they say and observe them at the same time. Watch the person’s nonverbal signals, body language, and facial expressions to determine how the employee really feels.

3. Communicate all the time. A big part of coaching is talking often with employees. Meet with them individually on a regular basis, chat with them as they work every day, and be available to answer their questions as much as possible. You’ll build trust and learn more about what’s going on in your workplace.

4. Fill in knowledge gaps. Once you understand what skills and experience employees lack, work with them to fill in those gaps. Provide training and encouragement as they master new abilities and learn to handle challenging assignments.

5. Give constant feedback. Offer both positive and negative feedback. Use praise to motivate your employees, and treat mistakes as learning opportunities. Show employees that you have confidence in them.