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Why Workplace Coaching and Why now?


What is Workplace Coaching?

Workplace Coaching is:

The process of equipping people with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities they need to fully develop themselves to be effective in their commitment to themselves, the company, and their work.

A “designed alliance” focused on developing an individual to become their “best self” and to contribute their “best fit” and talents.

An ego-less process in which coachable moments are created to draw out distinctions and promote shifts in thinking and behavior.”

Many organizations, researchers and leaders have identified coaching as a critical leadership and management competency. In addition, employees are asking more and more for coaching. True coaching improves employee and organizational resiliency and effectiveness in change.

We define workplace coaching as the skills, processes and knowledge through which people involve themselves in making the maximum impact and constantly renewing themselves and their organizations as they experience continuous change.

Coaching is not management skills re-packaged, although coaching draws on certain management skills and competencies. Coaching deals with employee growth, development, and achievement by removing roadblocks to performance and enhancing creativity. Management deals with supervision, evaluation and meeting objectives.

Workplace Coaching is not therapy or counseling, although coaching uses some of the same communication processes. Coaching is about creativity, performance and action, while therapy deals with resolution and healing of the past.

Coaching is not mentoring or consulting, although coaches will use their experience, diagnose situations and give opinions or advice at times. Coaching uses all of one’s knowledge and experience to enable the person being coached to create and develop their own best practices, connections and resources.

Finally, coaching is not training. Coaches give information, but they support those they coach in developing their own skills and knowledge.

Why Coaching in the Workplace and Why Now?

Coaching promotes creativity, breakthrough performance and resilience, giving organizations a competitive edge and an effective way to flow and operate within an environment of continuous change. Successful organizations like Hewlett Packard, IBM, MCI and others have recognized that managers must be able to coach their employees and each other, and have included coaching in their management/leadership development.

Coaching has been identified by these organizations as a critical leadership and management competency.

Organizations are discovering that the traditional “command and control” style of management is no longer effective in today’s environment, which requires rapid response, leveraged creativity, resilience, and individual effort and performance in order to remain competitive.

Retention is critical, and coaching supports employee career/professional development and satisfaction, which keeps valued employees.

Employees who are coached to performance rather than managed to performance are more committed to and invested in the outcomes of their work and achievement of organizational goals.

Successful organizations have also discovered that on-going training of the workforce is necessary to remain competitive. However, without coaching, training loses its effectiveness rapidly, and often fails to achieve the lasting behavioral changes needed. While training is an “event”, coaching is a process, which is a valuable next step to training to insure that the new knowledge imparted, actually becomes learned behavior.

Coaching has never been more necessary than now and into the future.

Moving forwards change will be the norm and individual resilience and performance will be crucial to team and organizational success. Coaching leverages individual strengths and abilities for maximum performance.

Coaching also provides for direct on-the-job learning as well as just-in-time learning tailored to the particular situation. By enabling behavioral shifts, coaching allows projects and people to move forward immediately and with less effort. Change in business today is often not linear, and requires quick shifts into entirely new models. True coaching supports people in quick shifts needed to meet changing business demands.

Today’s employees are experiencing the new employment “covenant” which developed in the ‘80’s and is now a part of corporate life. Career self-reliance is a critical employee competency under the new covenant, in which employees trade skills and contribution for development and opportunity. Managers and leaders must coach their employees, as they become career self-reliant and engage in continuous career development.

In today’s marketplace, adding value is key to business success.

Successful coaching adds value to employees, who then add value to their organizations by giving their best. Employees want to be happy, productive and innovative, and coaching creates the environment where this can happen. Coaching also supports diversity by recognizing every employee’s uniqueness.

Research and experience shows that employees perform better when positively coached, rather than being constantly evaluated. Researchers have also seen that people with more positive attitudes are more likely to succeed in their jobs and careers. Coaching fosters more positive employee attitude as a key component of development, and enhances positive attitude through positive support.

Finally, coaching skills build and enhance team and work group performance, motivates sales production, improve management and leadership, and promote diversity awareness and leveraging. Human resource professionals have identified that in order to work well in the future, companies will need to hire employees for their fit with the organization, rather than to fill job descriptions. Employee fit is assessed and developed through coaching.

Managers also coach employees to become more career self-reliant and to develop their careers more effectively.

Who Coaches in the Workplace?

Successful managers and leaders today are developing their coaching skills, in order to support and enhance employee performance and development. Managers with coaching skills also “peer coach” each other, as a key way to provide each other with support and guidance in challenging environments. Finally, managers in a 360º feedback situation may “coach up” by coaching their superiors to enhance their own ability to lead and manage.

Coaching provides not only a context for feedback, but also a process to support changed behavior. The best workplace coaches are those who understand and develop their own coaching style, rather than following a cookie cutter approach, who know how to “flex” their style to coach others, and who can use the coaching process and concepts effectively through understanding and skill development.

How do Managers and Leaders Develop Effective Coaching Skills and Competencies?

Managers and leaders develop their competency in coaching by:

  • Increasing their awareness of coaching and its benefits, and “buying in” to the concept and process;
  • Educating themselves on coaching concepts and tools;
  • Identifying their own coaching style and skill level, and learning to identify others’ preferences for being coached;
  • Practicing coaching using the best coaching tools and their own strengths; and continuously improving and installing their coaching competency through feedback and on-going coaching.

While some managers may “take to” coaching more naturally than others at first, we find that the managers, leaders and clients we work with all enjoy and become effective coaches once they are supported by a model in finding and using their own unique coaching strengths. Coaching truly provides a win-win for both coach and employee.

(Adapted from Corporate Coach U’s article on Coaching in the Workplace).

Ron Cacioppe

Ron Cacioppe is the Managing Director of Integral Development and holds a BSc, an MBA and a PhD. He has taught in the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

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