As with many employers nowadays, coaching skills have risen to the top of a list of crucial skills necessary for managing employees. On Thursday, September 13, Seattle Jobs Initiative hosted the most recent meeting of the Performance Skills Coalition, where over 25 professionals participated in a dynamic workshop on the fundamentals of coaching for soft skills. The workshop was facilitated by internationally acclaimed Executive Coach and Trainer Nina McGuffin Simonds!

After a round of introductions, participants paired off to brainstorm about their own performance (soft) skills ? skills that included: empathy, listening, cultural competency, cheerleading, charisma, forward thinking, mediating conflict, facilitating, focus, creativity, punctuality, reliability, approachability and motivation. These examples of performance skills represent leadership skills as well as an employee?s ability to be taught and keep a sense of balance on the job.

Following the warm up, Nina Simonds presented the Four Paradigms of Coaching: 1) Focus on the learner, 2) Learner is responsible for the agenda and results, 3) Power is in the coaching alliance, and lastly, 4) Learner has the answer. Participants divided up into groups to work together to understand the layers of meaning around each of these four paradigms. Through conversations and practice examples, this workshop provided a deepened awareness for group members on the importance of being present, cultivating understanding and communication skills, and tapping into the power of positive coaching relationships for the development of employee performance skills.

The interactive examples and group format offered workshop participants a supportive opportunity to learn and explore new approaches to employee coaching. Matt Lee, Business Services/HR Manager for JTS Management Services, for example, stated that although he was initially somewhat reluctant to bring a real case study from his job to share with the group, the session and input from Nina McGuffin Simonds and his peers in the room really helped him think about how to resolve the problem.

SJI would like to share a huge thank you to Nina McGuffin Simonds Coaching (view her website at for this informative, productive and engaging presentation ? as well as a huge thank you to all of our Performance Skills Coalition members for attending, including:

  • Swedish Medical Center
  • UW Northwest Medical Center
  • Pacific Medical Center
  • JTS Management Services
  • Workforce Evolutions
  • Performance Dimensions Group
  • Allen Partners
  • Bellevue College
  • Shoreline Community College
  • South Seattle Community College
  • Jubilee Women?s Center
  • YWCA Seattle

About SJI’s Performance Skills Coalition

The Performance Skills Coalition is a learning community of employers, community college educators, and community based organizations that meet bi-monthly to discuss current best practices for the development of soft skills in the workplace. Meeting since 2009, this coalition was born out of the work of the Workforce Champions Group ? a group of senior level HR and training professionals — who established performance skills as a top workplace issue. The Coalition?s central accomplishments include defining and creating a chart of essential performance skills necessary for success in the workplace, advocating for the State Board for Community & Technical Colleges to recommend a performance skills curriculum for all students, and most recently, in 2011, bringing focus and definition to the key foundational qualities that support employee performance skills.


For more information on the Performance Skills Coalition, including how to get involved, please contact one of SJI?s Senior Project Managers:

Linda Rider
(206) 628-6968

Dave Trovato
(206) 628- 6967

You can also check out the Performance Skills Coalition LinkedIn group – click here!