Making a Place for Coaching Within Your Organization
Coaching has grown in importance for organizations as the speed of business and change has increased. Organizations have moved from leading by authority to teaming across the organization. This movement towards agility and inclusion across business boundaries and P&Ls requires leaders to act differently with all the employees they interact with.
All of which points to a greater need for employee coaching to enable employees to learn new behaviors and the capabilities required to operate across organizational ecosystems.
Coaching and change
At the core of coaching is the understanding that each person being coached has a willingness to make changes in their behavior. For some, the benefits of coaching are apparent, and they willingly accept coaching. This is most evident with millennial employees interested in receiving feedback to grow themselves by seeking out learning opportunities. Some individuals have difficulty receiving feedback and are reluctant to be coached.
Implementing coaching within a team or organization is not without its challenges. Like change, it requires rethinking what we have become accustomed to. No matter how basic or complex the areas targeted for change, this remains true. For coaching to work, the person being coached has to choose and personally commit and accept operating differently to produce better outcomes for themselves and the team. HR managers, Learning & Development, and Business leaders face this challenge in preparing employees to implement new operating models, change processes, digital implementation, adapting to changing customer requirements, and all other strategic priorities.
What is coaching?
Coaching helps individuals and organizations challenge long-standing beliefs and patterns that stand in the way of development goals and needs. While the goal of coaching is often better business performance, the root of what prevents the individual is usually beyond business boundaries. Professional coaches work with people in all areas that hamper their development, including: business goals, career aspirations, personal finances and health, relationships, and more.
Coaching is designed to help the people being coached to improve their learning, capabilities, performance, and enhance their quality of life. As a result, these employees set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths. Coaching niches can include executive coaching, career coaching, and life coaching to name a few.
What does a coach do?
Professional coaches are trained to help people by listening, observing, and asking powerful questions. They have honed their problem-solving and communication skills in a way they can customize their approach to the individual's needs, and using their expertise in helping them set goals and elicit solutions and strategies from them. They believe that the person they are coaching is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach's job is to provide support and empowerment to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has. The coach partners with the individual being coached to provide them with new ways of approaching areas they seek to make changes. In this partnership, the coachee is responsible and accountable for taking steps to produce the results he or she desires.
What don't coaches do?
Coaching does not focus directly on relieving psychological pain or treating cognitive or emotional disorders. Coaching assumes that the coachee will have emotional reactions to life events and that they can express and handle their emotions. Coaching is not psychotherapy or hypnotherapy, and emotional healing is not its focus. Coaching is not used as a substitute for the therapeutic needs of coachees. However, coaching can be used concurrently with therapeutic work.
How does coaching occur?
Coaching has the freedom and flexibility to address a wide variety of personal and professional topics. In any given coaching relationship, the coach and coachee determine the scope of their work together. In its purest form, coaching is not a performance management tool. While performance management may point out the need for an employee to use coaching to develop a capability, skill, or reinforce new behaviors, the individual must choose to be coached.
Without the critical "pull" step of choosing to be coached, you move to the "push" of mentoring. Mentoring is beneficial and has its place. A fundamental difference is that mentors most often tell the employee "how" instead of working with the employee to think something through and formulate their own path.
Who makes up the coaching staff?
There are a variety of different coaching models out there. My coaching definition has been specific to the most traditional coaching forms found within Internal and External coaches who have professional coach training certifications that focus on developing employees. Smaller organizations, or organizations that choose not to use certified coaches, rely on managers and leaders using coaching skills in creating behavior change within the organization. A training regimen within the firm that provides a consistent training model and focuses on core competencies for these managers and leaders is highly recommended to support and develop the staff adequately.
Sparking the desire for coaching
Teams trying to work better together often realize their ability to work together is hindered by determining the best way to form the team, adapting to become an agile team, or team members' conflicting work styles. At any of these times, coaching can provide team members the leadership skills needed in adopting new ways of teaming to produce better outcomes as individuals and as a team.
The use of tools, like 360 feedback, and interviews from managers and other stakeholders, provides a picture of an employee from multiple lenses. Some individuals are quite surprised to learn their team's impression is radically different from their own self-image.
When blinders are lifted, the opportunity to enroll them in the idea of coaching presents itself. To do so, begin by discussing options for what they can do to change behaviors that are most concerning or in the way of producing outcomes. Coaching and using a workplace behavioral tool such as DISC is a natural recommendation for self-understanding and behavioral change.
When an employee's performance levels are not where they or their manager expect, it provides another opportunity for coaching. At this intersection, it is vital to establish clarity between the individual and their manager on what coaching does and does not do. The coaching landscape should be based on goals agreed upon by the coachee, their manager, and the coach.
While the coachee and the coach may provide progress reports to the manager, they do not share the details of private conversations had during the coaching process with the manager.
The bottom line
Companies with a strong coaching culture enjoy a more remarkable ability to adapt to changing business environments and report revenues above industry averages, 51% of organizations against 38% of other organization respondents1.
If you have been thinking about introducing organizational coaching into your firm, first consider being coached yourself. You will be in a better place to evaluate coaches, coaching, and the benefits they provide. You might be surprised by the benefits that coaching offers you, your team, and your organization.
1Human Capital Institute, in partnership with International Coach Federation (ICF). (2016). Building a coaching culture with managers and leaders. Retrieved from https://www.hci.org/research/building-coaching-culture-managers-and-leaders