I’ve said a lot elsewhere on this blog about coaching. But the first question really ought to be: “Why use it?”
As coaches, we need to have thought this through. Our own enthusiasm for our profession isn’t really enough. If we haven’t thought it through, and we haven’t identified key benefits to individual and organisational performance associated with coaching interventions, we’re very unlikely to be able to convince anyone else to invest time, effort and money into what even now might easily be dismissed as ‘just another fad’.
So let’s take a look. As a coach active within a large organisation, this time I’ll be discussing 6 reasons why putting time, effort and money into coaching and establishing a coaching culture would be more than a good idea.
1. Staff development
It’s always a good move to invest in encouraging managers to embed a coaching approach to their teams. When successfully achieved, this means that learning and development priorities can be reinforced because managers focus on developing staff rather than feeling they need to ‘rule by command’ – which can often mean holding staff back. Instead of imposing solutions, such managers employ coaching skills of listening, questioning and reflecting back to encourage staff to learn from their own experience and gain confidence in their own abilities to solve problems. Ultimately this means a continuous process of staff learning without loss of time from the bench or desk, plus the important factor of enhanced enjoyment and team spirit.
2. Staff retention
We all know staff retention should be a priority. There are significant costs associated with replacing those who leave. Where organisations invest in continuous staff development they are providing opportunities organically for staff to challenge themselves and grow towards personal and career goals that can benefit the individual and organisation alike. Coaching interventions can be used structurally to pick up on development aims agreed with managers in PDRs (Performance Development Reviews), helping individuals to realise their goals in a bespoke, structured and supported manner. Offered independently of PDRs as confidential safe spaces for staff to explore their own fears, motivations and dreams, such interventions demonstrate in practical terms that the individual and his/her welfare is valued by the organisation.
3. Improved relationships and quality of life at work
Where a coaching culture is consciously cultivated through buy-in from top management and specific training in coaching skills for managers and supervisors, the quality of interactions throughout an organisation can significantly improve. Listening, asking questions and valuing the answers means that the person is valued and respected. And respecting individuals breeds better interactions, leading to a better working atmosphere and team spirit.
4. More time for the manager/leader
Coaching-style cultures bring benefits to managers and leaders too. Time isn’t lost through completing tasks which ought to be delegated, or instructing staff rather than managing overall team performance outcomes. Staff learn to welcome responsibility and to view delegation of tasks and projects as development opportunities. A significant side benefit of this is the freeing up of managers and leaders to engage in what they should be doing but often can’t – taking care of overarching functions and strategising rather than micromanaging and firefighting. Decision-making can become more participative, transparent and timely, with the added bonus of ensuring buy-in from all concerned because they feel part of the decisions made.
5. Improved individual and team performance and productivity
Establishing a coaching culture has many benefits. Encouraging skills of listening and questioning leads to increased sharing and utilisation of knowledge. The best is brought out of teams, which are more self-motivated and perform because they want to rather than because they have to. Lack of a ‘blame culture’ encourages ‘ownership’ of mistakes rather than avoidance, which in turn leads to collaborative efforts to overcome and learn from them. Indeed, a coaching culture encourages all team members to make and value suggestions. Creativity can be enhanced. Individuals who carry out tasks regularly are encouraged to develop their own specific insights and talents, which can lead to significant improvement of procedures and processes.
6. Reduction in costs to the organisation
Coaching programmes and interventions can lead to reduction of costs in numerous areas. Less staff turnover reduces the need for recruitment and the training of new staff. Better team bonding and performance leads to reduced project lead times and more creative use of resources. Over time, there is more scope for recruiting for roles in-house, leading to further reduction in recruitment costs. Where a coaching culture has been established and teams are working at optimal performance, there is reduced need to bring in external consultants or coaches – the creativity and skills are already present and activated.