Coaching means many things to many people. Many times a certain technique that is referred to as “coaching,” isn’t really coaching at all; it’s actually counseling or feedback. For example, you may have heard or had this happen to you – a manager will say, “Let me give you some coaching around ABC,” and they proceed to explain to an employee why the employee failed to accomplish a task. The manager then explains the way ABC needs to be done. More times than not, the recipient of this so-called “coaching” walks away disillusioned by what they think was a coaching experience and perhaps, deflated and unmotivated. As a result, coaching can get a bad rap and employees may begin to disengage. So what does a real coaching conversation look like? Well, something like this: “So, how do you think your presentation on ABC went?” The employee is given time to reflect, respond and be an active participant in the conversation. The manager continues to ask thoughtful questions such as: “What would you have done differently?,” ”What actions will you take?,” or “How can I support you?” Do you notice the difference? This is a coaching conversation—the employee is empowered to act while being supported by their manager. The employee gains confidence knowing that they own the outcome while feeling acknowledged and supported by their manager.
Now more than ever, there is a great opportunity to bring coaching into organizations. According to Gallup’s study on the global workplace, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work or are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations. Therefore, 63% are “not engaged.” If this is the case, then why not integrate coaching into your talent management strategy, not only to increase employee engagement, but to achieve other talent development goals such as developing certain competencies like problem-solving, strategic thinking or filling your talent pipeline with ready-now talent for upward or lateral assignments?
In order to integrate coaching into your talent management strategy, the following five steps should be taken:
- Educate Your Leaders: Start at the top and educate your executives on the differences and benefits of coaching versus counseling. Interview them on their perspectives on coaching and assess their willingness to participate and support a coaching initiative. Explain the benefits of coaching and ask them where they see applications for coaching inside their organizations.
- Identify Coaches, Participants and Executive Sponsors: Look for individuals and managers that can become trained to be internal coaches inside your company. These individuals may be inside your talent management and organizational development areas or could exist inside the business itself. Consider having talent management or Human Resources executives trained and credentialed by the International Coach Federation as professional coaches. As a result, they will be in an excellent position to coach executives in the company. Alternatively, you may choose to utilize external coaches. If so, you can submit a request via the International Coach Federation Coach Referral Service website or ask colleagues for recommendations.
Simultaneously, you will want to identify candidates to participate in the coaching program. Therefore, review your succession planning and consider top talent managers, directors and executives. Participants should be excited to be part of the program and willing to make a commitment. Just as important as identifying the coaches and participants is to make certain that you have executive sponsorship. Determine which executives would like to sponsor the program and be a participant. Request that they support you in your coach and participant identification, marketing efforts, during participant enrollment and throughout the program’s life cycle.
- Manage Expectations: Be sure to clearly set expectations with your internal coaches, individuals being coached, the executive sponsors and, of course, your managers and colleagues. It is best to run the initial program as a pilot and build upon its success. Make certain everyone is clear on the goals of the program, time commitment and their roles and responsibilities.
- Train: Enroll your internal coach candidates in a coach-training program that is designed to train individuals that work inside companies as a coach. If you choose to enroll internal employees to become coaches, ensure they’re being coached by a coach with experience coaching internal coaches. In addition, be sure to train the individuals who are to be coached on the role and responsibilities of the participant. While training your coaches, be sure to establish a clear and consistent process for enrolling clients, coaching time and exiting clients. The key here is to ensure that everyone participating has a similar experience.
- Measure Success: Prior to starting the program, determine how you will measure its success. It may be done simply by using a Net–Promoter score or setting up a simple impact study. It doesn’t have to be a rigorous measurement such as ROI. If your program is embraced and utilized (coaching clients show up and participate in the coaching), then that’s a great sign. Interviewing them or surveying them on the benefits they received is also an excellent idea. In addition, be sure to ask the managers of the program’s participants about the changes they may have noticed in their employee’s behaviors after being coached.
In a time where we’re surrounded by change and have so many demands on our personal and professional lives, the need for coaching is at an all time high. Coaching is a model for engagement, empowerment and accountability. It teaches those being coached to be responsible and to “own” their results. By engaging in coaching, you’re making a decision to replace mediocrity with high-performance. So let’s ask ourselves, who and what company doesn’t want full engagement and high-performance?