Q&A: Employee Coaching Advice from Blankslate Partners CEO Isabella Egan

October 28, 2016 - 5 minute read - Posted by


Our guest today is Isabella Egan, CEO of Blankslate Partners; a Vancouver-based talent consultancy firm with a decade-long commitment to bringing purpose-fuelled employment strategies into businesses.

Isabella has over a decade of experience in the Human Resources and the Recruiting industry, with focus on scaling high-growth organizations, building corporate employment strategies, leadership training, talent development and employer branding.

We sat down with Isabella to gain some insights on employee coaching and how it be can integrated with a company’s performance management process.

Why is coaching important at Blankslate Partners?

Isabella: For Blankslate Partners (BSP), partnerships is our absolute core value. I feel really strongly that everything we do should be done in partnerships. This means the work we do with each other, our clients, through channel partners and ourselves, is grounded in the ability to give and receive feedback and feedforward. One of the most important skills a Blankslate “Partner” possesses is the ability to coach and learn from those that we work with.

Whether we’re training our clients on: coaching 1-on-1’s, how to conduct performance reviews and other leadership fundamentals, the skill to coach becomes the foundation on which we build everything!

If you can be in a coaching and mentorship relationship with those that you work with, you can effectively manage up and down. Coaching is doing it in a way that allows those around you to feel confident, part of the team and valued.

What is the most important step when it comes to managing performance?

Isabella: Communication is everything. Performance management is not a conversation that happens once or twice a year. It’s not simply used when someone is looking for a pay raise or a new role.

Good performance management happens daily. Once communication is established, the next most important thing is being consistent. Let your team know where they stand and what they can expect from the company.

How do you find balance between employee accountability and coaching in your performance management process?

Isabella: Good question! At lululemon, there used to be signs on the back of the door that say; “Integrity—without it nothing works.”

For myself personally, the key to finding the balance is having a clear road map for success and regular conversations. This ensures everyone knows what is expected of them and what they are accountable for.

There should always been existing channels of communication for everyone to ask for help where needed and support the learning of new skills. It gives permission to try new things, accept mistakes and provides motivation to move forward.

Every individual’s integrity to know when and what they are responsible for, be it delivery on a project or having a tough conversation, helps balance individual accountability and facilitate the coaching process.

What are 3 essential traits from in effective coaches and managers?

Isabella: There are many more than three, but when I think back to those I would aspire to be, they all have these traits:

  1. They listen first,
  2. They are consistent in everything they do,
  3. And they always come from a place of kindness and curiosity, as opposed to fear or judgement when coaching.

Why should employees care about the performance management process?

Isabella: In a world where everyone is trained to look for the next role, challenge or opportunity, an effective performance management process allows an individual to learn and improve their skill set.

Employees should care because they can drive the coaching process. They can express what skills they want to develop and which skills they can bring to help everyone else. Essentially, individuals can either grow with the company they are with, or into their next role at a new company.

At BSP we hold the value to “always be learning” because we can’t be the best at what we do if we don’t learn from our experiences.


Don’t miss out on our next Q&A! You can hear more advice on coaching from Isabella Egan here. Be sure to follow @7Geese for upcoming chats.

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