COACHING is a great way of developing, leading and managing others within an organisation.
There is evidence to show that leaders of an organisation who see themselves not only as managers but also as coaches, are more likely to move their organisation from good to great.
So how can coaching become a norm in an organisation? It starts with each individual manager or head of department.
First, he needs to buy into the concept of a coach-centric management style. Second, he needs to learn the necessary skills to be an internal coach. Lastly, he needs to put them into practice.
As a trainer and coach with many years’ experience, I have come to the conclusion that while training is necessary to learn skills and knowledge, coaching is often the missing link to get the results desired by the organisation. There are several reasons for this:
1. Training often addresses the symptoms while coaching can uncover the real problems.
Most managers are able to describe what their team members lack in terms of skills or what they are doing wrong.
However, many are clueless as to why their people still cannot perform as they are expected to, even after they have been taught or trained in the necessary skills.
A case in point is sending sales staff for training when the manager decides his team can do much better to hit targets.
He thinks: “My team needs to learn some great techniques and be able to close sales.”
So, the team is packed off to attend a high-impact training programme. Some team members get fired up, and their performance improves, while some stay lacklustre, or worse, turn in a lower performance.
What has happened here is that the manager has addressed the symptom — his sales team is not hitting sales targets — but has not succeeded in uncovering the real reasons for the problem — and these are different for different people.
While training provides employees with the skills and knowledge, coaching will focus on developing the desired attitude for their improved performance.
Rather than just focusing on the performance of tasks and competency, a coach sees everyone as unique, with different strengths, different personality or different motivation. So one-on-one coaching will help to address the root cause of the problem.
2. People learn best what they discover for themselves.
Real learning comes from self-discovery rather than the transfer of information.
As the saying goes, “Awareness comes before change”. We need to experience the “eureka” moment for ourselves to be self-motivated enough to make a change.
Otherwise, most people are unwilling or too lazy to change what they have been doing all along, even if it has not given them the results they desire.
With a coach-centric and non-directive approach of questioning and guiding, people can come to a stage of realisation of where they are currently at and where they want to go, and then make a decision to make a lasting, positive change.
3. People apply best what they have learnt when they have a guided implementation process.
Let us assume your team has attended a skills training programme, conducted either by you as their manager or an outside trainer.
How can you, as their manager, ensure that they apply what they have learnt to their job?
This can be done if you guide them through the implementation process as their coach.
You will be able to help uncover personal obstacles and mindset limitations that may be stopping the person from putting into practice what he has learnt.
Developing a coaching culture in the organisation will not only positively influence business results but also improve areas like employee engagement and the overall organisational climate, which in turn will improve business performance.
Next week: Coaching skills for the manager