Coaching: Why bother?

Coaching is one of the biggest buzzwords to emerge over the last 10 years in the world of business. In fact, a recent survey indicated that 86 per cent of respondents reported that coaching takes place in their organisation.

Everybody is talking about it these days yet how many of us truly do it? As an effective leader you are constantly looking for opportunities to maximise your business and profitability.

Can coaching help? It may be useful to actually define what is meant by coaching within a business context, put simply it is helping your staff, team or individuals to work out solutions for themselves.

Coaching can be such a simple process that it is easy to be dismissive of its importance to your business. It is so simple, however, that you can master many of the techniques quickly and relatively easily. By doing the simple things well you will become an even more effective leader or manager. You could improve your business beyond recognition.

Taking steps towards becoming a competent coach will enable you to become a more effective leader or manager. Once you have learned to improve the team, the contribution to the business will have reached an altogether new, more impactful level.

Fundamentally, it is about helping people to make a success of their job at work. By giving them greater understanding of their roles and encouraging them to make informed decisions, they will see that they have a genuine stake in the business and are far more likely to seek success, personally and corporately.

They will recognise that the future of the business can be reliant on their actions. Armed with this knowledge, they’ll look for ways to make improvements on a continuing basis. Business results are influenced by everybody and not just a chosen few.

Lasting Change

Coaching is a highly successful way of anchoring and embedding change. Change that is permanent and lasts! It is recognition of the value of team performance, well-being and development; of improved clarity and better communications. In a recent survey of individuals undertaking coaching, 72% reported improved communication skills*. It’s aimed fairly and squarely at increasing profits, by facilitating increased revenues and attacking costs.
Moreover, an enlightened workforce can bring new perspectives to your business outlook.

Business coaching is also prescribed to remedy ailments such as high staff turnover or low morale. Positive impact can be brought to bear on such issues, throughout any organisation. Providing support can have real benefits in terms of improving retention levels and commitment, encouraging potential and performance.70% of coaching clients report improved work performance.

Having a productive business relies on fostering a productive workforce. The key is to make it as relevant to the individual as it is to the organisation as a whole.

Notwithstanding that employing a professional business coach would bring additional skills, structure and objectivity to the process – and that coaching is not suitable to be undertaken by everyone – stepping out on this road requires simple directions rather than a detailed map.

Taking a look at the recently published book of management and leadership observations “100 Ways To Whow! Your Organisation”, published by the Xlibris Corporation, would be a useful starting point.

Listen Attentively

Spot the opportunities to coach; make sure that you question effectively and (most importantly) listen attentively; don’t rush in with solutions; encourage feedback; and avoid pitfalls such as thinking that coaching equates to saying that it is so or dealing only with the superficial.

There are several types of coaching conversation in which to become involved. The challenge is to consistently pose a sufficiency of suitable questions for the respondents to challenge their thinking and come to their own conclusions.

In doing so, you will need to be honest with yourself, face the full reality of each situation, be open and receptive, then do what you commit to do.

You might be helping individuals to connect to the team or the company. You could be enhancing someone’s career aspirations. There may be a need to manage the process of change – a person’s change curve and transition path, perhaps. Helping an individual to secure and develop new skills could assume importance. And coaching relates to performance: improving and enhancing results and relationships. 73% of individuals who use coaching report that they have improved their business relationships* .

By asking the right questions you will ensure that your colleagues can find the correct path, through guided self-discovery. Effective coaching comprises 70% listening and 30% questioning. Not just more questioning, but putting forward the right questions.

Better Motivated

Your team members will be helped to understand their function, within the department, as part of the organisation. They will be encouraged to aim higher and achieve more. They will be better motivated and more effective. Their objectives, you can expect, will be realigned closer to your own.

For your part, you will have become a more inspirational leader with increased insight and knowledge, better able to manage business complexities and to engage with people at all levels.

The business will be in a position to maximise the development of its high potential members of staff, realign values and purpose, increase employee engagement, encourage leadership, facilitate change, resolve issues in real time, improve performance and deliver a return on investment. 80% of organisations that use coaching report a clear return on investment*.

Business coaching is a core-critical capability of twenty-first century leadership. It enables real action to occur. It is a skill, but one that can be learned. Like any skill it requires practice. But that will prove to be a well worthwhile application.

Research shows that around 95 per cent of businesses choosing to adopt coaching techniques reap appreciable benefits, right across their environment. That’s quite an incentive.

This article is the first in a series of three articles exploring the topic of coaching, so look out for the next one in June!