Coaching—done well—is instrumental in changing lives and getting peak performance. It’s a performance improvement practice that has proven itself at the individual, team, and organizational level to have immediate and sustainable impact. However, time and time again organizations get stuck when it comes to creating a culture of coaching, and making coaching count where it matters most. So why are so many organizations getting stuck and what can be done about it?
Here’s the Situation
More than ever organizations are embracing workplace coaching as a performance management solution.
• Recently, Bersin and Associates identified coaching as the #1 talent management best practice.
• Another study showed that training alone increased productivity by 22.4%, while training plus coaching increased productivity by 88%.
• Direct reports of effective coaches outperform direct reports of ineffective coaches by 25% and are 40% less likely to leave.
The research clearly shows that coaching has a tremendous impact in the work environment. But even with the research as evidence and organizations embracing the power of workplace coaching, many internal coaching programs lack momentum and adoption, and therefore organizations are not reaping the full benefits of more leaders, coaching often, for more business impact. This is because leaders have three main struggles.
• They don’t have an easy process to coach to,
• They can’t easily identify coaching opportunities, and
• They aren’t recognized, held accountable, and rewarded for coaching.
Getting More Leaders, Coaching More Often, For More Impact
If the research shows, and anecdotal evidence reinforces, the value of workplace coaching, why aren’t more leaders coaching? The answer is simple—changing cultural behaviors is always a challenge. In building a coaching culture there are three critical elements that cause coaching programs to stick.
Three Quick Steps to Get More Leaders Coaching More Often
- Provide a simple coaching process for leaders
The complexity of human interactions can make coaching conversations difficult to have, especially when high emotions are involved. With a simple coaching process (in other words a conversation map) to follow, coaching can simplify the world of a leader and accelerate the performance of individual contributors and the entire team. To get more leaders coaching more often, a coaching process must be simple enough to use often, and when under pressure. It should also enable people to use or organize knowledge and skills they already have. To gain leader buy-in and organizational adoption, any coaching process must be easy to use, highly transferable, and make a noticeable impact.
When an organization has a coaching program that fulfills these criteria, they are set up for leader and organizational adoption.
- Spot the everyday opportunities
In its simplest form, coaching is an ongoing conversation that helps people get from where they are to where they want to go. These conversations accelerate the speed and accuracy of decisions, or Decision Velocity, which lead to actions that generate the desired results. Opportunities to improve Decision Velocity are all around us. Some decisions show up large enough to be recognized easily as coaching opportunities. But, many others are small enough and subtle enough that we don’t see them as decision points. Every day leaders are presented with big, and small, opportunities to have coaching dialogue—mostly on an informal basis. By recognizing coaching moments more readily, managers and leaders can more consistently tap into the power of coaching and use their coaching skills. Every change in organizational results starts with an individual or group decision. And every decision point is an opportunity to apply coaching to increase the Decision Velocity.
Helping leaders uncover coaching opportunities is the second step to getting more leaders coaching more often—and an essential for building an organizational coaching culture.
- Make Coaching Visible
Given how big an impact coaching can make, it becomes critical to do the same with coaching that we do with anything that is critical to the performance of an organization. We need to track, measure, reward, and reinforce coaching behaviors. Human beings have a tendency to lose awareness. At minimum, managers should be asked how much they are coaching, what they are coaching towards, if their coaching is having an impact, and what insights have they received while coaching.
Asking managers to regularly report on these questions provides the fodder for both bottom-up engagement as well as top-down reinforcement. Managers expect they will be asked about their coaching activity and therefore act accordingly. Their bosses, having access to that information, can support, troubleshoot, and respond. Coaching can be an essential tool to help people do more of the right things, less of the wrong things, and just do things differently. In efforts to get more leaders coaching more often for more impact, it only makes sense to create visibility into what’s happening so we can coach to their coaching behavior.