How Coaching Fits the World of Work
It’s no surprise that successfully running any business demands a multitude of talent, diverse skills, vast energy and more time for leaders than seems to be available in a day. And for small business owners in particular, it’s daunting to ‘grow it alone.’
In fact, the challenges in organizations of any size today are immense, and call for new ways to maximize performance. That’s one reason why coaching has become a cost efficient and effective way of helping people, and their organizations, grow, and achieve remarkable results.
Professional coaching is mushrooming throughout the world, with numerous training schools, university and college courses, and certification programs being developed at a rapid rate. The International Coach Federation (ICF) has now accredited hundreds of educational programs, and estimates that there are currently more than 25,000 coaches in 124 ICF chapters worldwide who are ICF members.
Coaching, as described by Robert Hargrove (author of Masterful Coaching, Extraordinary Results by Impacting People and the Way the Think and Work Together) ‘unleashes the human spirit and expands people’s capacity to achieve stretch goals and bring about real change.’
The obvious analogy with sports is not accidental. Coaches help others focus on a goal, stretch beyond their comfort zone, learn new ways of being and doing, and achieve results that amaze themselves and those around them.
Who Coaches in Organizations?
External coaches work with executives, managers, people on fast track, and those wanting or being asked to improve performance in certain areas. Coaching is often offered as a professional development opportunity, as a support, and as a way of moving forward quickly.
Increasingly in organizations today, leaders and managers are seeing themselves as coaches or being asked to use coaching skills in managing others. Human resource professionals are being required to possess coaching competencies and asked to help build coaching cultures in their organizations.
Types of Coaching
Individual or one-on-one coaching is the most prevalent form of coaching in organizations. The impact, however, extends to all those with whom the person being coached interacts.
Group coaching is an expedient and innovative way of introducing coaching skills to managers, and giving them the opportunity to try out new behaviours, practice, reflect and support one another in their learning and its application.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) and Linkage, Inc. in a survey of organizations described the primary benefits of coaching (in this order) as:
- improved individual performance
- bottom line results including profit
- client service and competitiveness
- development of people for the next level
- confidence raising
- skills and self empowerment
- goal achievement
- relationship improvements
And in another survey of coaching clients, the ICF found that the outcomes that clients attributed to their coaching were: a higher level of self-awareness and self-confidence, a more balanced life, smarter goal-setting and lower stress levels.
Manchester Inc., a Florida-based executive coaching company, reported on a study undertaken to quantify the business impact of executive coaching. The study included 100 executives, mostly from Fortune 1,000 companies, who received coaching.
Participating companies reported improvements in productivity, quality, organizational strength, customer service, and shareholder value. In addition, a company’s investment in providing coaching to its executives realized an average return on investment (ROI) of almost six times the cost of the coaching.
What Makes a Good Coach?
Most of us can think of someone who has been a coach to us, or a mentor, or has inspired us in some way to be the best we can be. What did we notice about how that person dealt with us?
Chances are they: listened deeply, asked probing questions, were not judgmental, let us know they totally believed in us, showed us new ways of seeing things, challenged us, stuck with us through tough times and celebrated our successes. We discovered we could do more, be more, achieve more, with a coach by our side!
Organizational, as well as life coaches, do much the same thing. They:
- Help people set better goals and then reach those goals
- Ask their clients to do more than they would have done on their own
- Focus their clients better to more quickly produce results
- Provide the tools, support and structure to accomplish more.
The best coaches provide clients with a greater capacity to produce results and a greater confidence in their ability to do so.
Coaching Occurs in Relationship
Coaching is a conversation which takes place in a relationship. It is a conversation beyond the obvious, however, a conversation in which unimagined possibilities can be articulated and pursued. Therefore, the building of the relationship is essential to the success of the coaching.
It takes place in a setting (either in person or on the telephone) where trust and non-judgmental are paramount. The creation of a ‘space,’ where the person being coached can be totally her or himself, is critical. Consequently, confidentiality is a prime coaching ethic.
Professional coaches believe that the person being coached has the answers within them, and the coach’s job is to ask the questions that elicit those answers.
Coaches ask probing, curious questions to help clients see beneath their own surface. They ask tough, strategic questions that cause them to think along new lines. They act as a sounding board for new ideas and experimentation. They give strong feedback.
Since clients bring their issues of the day to their coaching calls, some describe coaching as “just in time” learning.
What People Say About Being Coached
Coaching testimonials abound. Coaches regularly hear comments such as:
- I’m finding benefit from having someone to bounce ideas off, someone I can talk to who helps me see another perspective.
- (My coach) has helped me identify and overcome the internal obstacles that held me back from success.
- My confidence level and trust in myself has more than doubled. Coaching has made me more effective as a manager.
- You can’t put a price on the changes and success that I experienced in my life working with my coach.
The rapid adoption of coaching in organizations is due to two related factors:
- The nature of the rapidly changing times we live and work in, which require people to be in continuous learning mode, and
- The nature of coaching itself–an effective vehicle for growth and enhanced performance.
Those who desire to see beyond limited horizons, can imagine previously unthought of possibilities, and are ready and willing to transform themselves and their organizations, are those who have the most to gain by engaging in a coaching relationship.
Good coaching achieves results–in behavioural change, in employee satisfaction, in customer relations–and positively impacts the bottom line.