Setting Out The Business Case For Coaching
by Matt Somers
Over the last decade or so, the term coaching has entered the general language of management and become seen as an integral part of successful Human Resource Management. Whilst we have had coaching behaviours as long as we've had management, they have only recently been given that label. Perhaps the obvious analogies with the world of sport where the coaching relationship has always been highly prized by even the highest performers helps to encourage managers and leaders today to look towards coaching as a means of encouraging and sustaining talent in these most unpredicatable times.
But let's be clear, coaching is not a panacea for all organisational ills and ought not be introduced to the organisation on the basis of a leap of faith. Here I'll seek to set out in stark terms the obvious advantages which I hope imply compelling benefits without the need for complex, and often spurious, Return on Investment calculations.
Greater Leadership Effectiveness
The prime function of leadership is surely to generate the next generation of leaders. With coaching as a regularly encountered management style, talent in any organization will be allowed and encouraged to shine through. Such people, as well as being identified for succession purposes, can be encouraged to take more responsibility for operational tasks, freeing the leadership to concentrate on more strategic matters.
Increased Employee Productivity
Employees are more productive when they're focused. In coaching parlance, being focused refers to a state of mind where one feels aware and responsible within a climate of trust. Coaching helps promote focus by making employees aware of the critical variables in their tasks and jobs. When employees more accurately identify the things that change when they're successful and when they're not, they find it easier to do the right things.
More Effective Performance Management
Recent years have seen organizations of all kinds clamour for effective Performance Management (PM). Most PM frameworks emphasise reviewing past performance against set targets and objectives, but this is akin to rowing a boat; trying to move forwards whilst facing backwards. Coaching fosters an emphasis on learning and development within a PM appraoch. Once the basis of an effective system in place, coaching presents an opportunity to develop the management skills that can harness a system to best effect More Effective Communication Coaching is employee centred yet performance focused. Day to day discussions and 1 to 1s in particular will be more effective when the focus of these exchanges in on promoting performance, but with the employee's needs duly considered.
Increased Retention and Loyalty of Staff
Coaching promotes Performance, Learning and Enjoyment. Staff who finish the working week having learnt something, achieved something and enjoyed themselves in the process will be happy productive employees for years to come. At the very least, these prime motivators help dilute an obsession with financial and other external rewards.
Better Alignment of Organizational Goals Throughout
Coaching encourages the articulation and ownership of challenging goals. Where these goals can be developed against a backdrop of clear organisational aims the chances of alignment and consequently successful achievement are much increased.
Increasingly, the benefits described above can be underpinned by a Senior Management Team's exposure to external coaching where this is the case. The business case for having these skills in house in the management population are obvious but the logistics of getting them sometimes more complex.
To train a managers and leaders as coaches requires an investment of money and, even more crucially, time, when almost all available landing slots are likely to have been assigned to other projects.
Nevertheless, the time is right as the challenges facing organizations will not be met without an employee base that is skilled, motivated and coached to perform at its best.
Matt Somers is a leading voice on coaching in the UK where he writes, presents, trains and consults on all aspects of Coaching at Work. An author and regular conference speaker, he is currently producing a range of resources to help with the people side of working life. His popular guide "Coaching for an Easier Life" is available FREE at http://www.mattsomers.com
Matt Somers may be contacted at www.mattsomers.com or firstname.lastname@example.org