Coaching in the workplace has increased dramatically in popularity in recent years as more organizations and leaders understand the power behind the approach. Coaching isn’t a “flavor of the month” business fad — it’s here to stay, and for good reasons. The business case for coaching is backed by solid research, data and results.
This column begins a series on coaching in the workplace and will review coaching concepts, techniques and examples of how coaching can dramatically affect performance and bottom-line results.
Simply stated, coaching is a leadership method and style centered on the development of the person (or team) being coached. At its core, coaching is about helping the person or team being coached change behaviors that affect their business goals.
Comparing workplace coaching to the sports field provides some valuable insights and similarities. Who can argue the value of coaches in the business of professional sports? Just as every major football team has a head coach, it also leverages a field of specialized experts to help develop specific skills sets — in individuals and for the team to optimize team dynamics and performance. Similarly, the purpose of workplace coaching is to champion, challenge and support. Workplace coaches, just like sports coaches, leverage skill development (practice, practice, practice!) and feedback (roll the game video), and provide insight (have you considered or did you know this behavior is having this effect?). The common theme, in both business and sports, is that effective coaching is a proven method to help individuals, teams and entire organizations rise to their performance potential.
Effective workplace coaching typically is:
- An interpersonal relationship built on trust.
- The leveraging of personal, interpersonal, leadership and business experience. In coaching, these skills are combined with techniques and activities designed to develop specific skills, new understandings and behaviors.
- A method that recognizes that learning (including from failure) is an expected benefit of trying new behaviors.
- A sounding board for the workplace “worried well.”
What coaching isn’t:
- Being “touchy feely.”
- Simply providing a pat on the back or being a “cheerleader.”
- A substitute for personal therapy.
When and for what reasons are coaches typically used? Here are a few typical workplace scenarios:
- To help new or inexperienced leaders with a potential for leadership who may lack specific leadership skills or experience.
- Supporting “fast trackers” or high achievers.
- To help valued employees with specific performance or emotional intelligence issues (such as an interpersonal, self-awareness or reactivity problem) or those individuals or groups that are simply “stuck.”
For senior level managers, executive coaches are frequently utilized for:
- Individuals being groomed for senior leadership positions, including those who have demonstrated business success but may have identified emotional intelligence challenges.
- The role of the impartial third-party “outsider,” one that can provide an unbiased or unemotional perspective on complex and difficult issues. Senior managers often find great benefit in having an objective sounding board (with no political or internal bias) to vocalize, rationalize and work through difficult situations.
- Support during major organizational transitions, including helping the organization to develop top-to-bottom skills and programs for managing change effectively.
- Helping leaders develop feedback mechanisms to help answer and address the question, “Why isn’t this working?”
The need for improved leadership, performance and results has never been greater. Our business reality today is one of constant change and global competition. Being successful in today’s workplace requires a never-ending development of new leaders with new skills — including the ability to build effective teams and a culture of organizational collaboration.
In a recent study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, 91 percent of leaders surveyed said the challenges they face as leaders are more complex than in the past. This same study identified the ability to effectively collaborate as a top skill that leaders must develop, while only 30 percent identified themselves as skilled collaborators! The good news — there is help! Call me today- 360 682 5807.