As I continue to meet a lot of HR Directors and business executives who are passionately in need to see radical change in their organisations, particularly when it comes to employee engagements – most of them are concerned about finding a suitable vehicle that can facilitate a robust, meaningful and sustainable change throughout their entire organisations. They also have a deep desire for that change to be measurable and further contribute significantly to the broader strategic plan of the organisation.
The fact is coaching in business has the potential to transform individuals’ performance and organisations’ success. Coaching aims to develop an individual’s performance by unlocking their capabilities through guided conversation and questioning. Coaching enables managers to find business solutions using their own resources and as such it can be a powerful tool for organisational development. Your line managers can actually be developed to be professional coaches. In this article, i will look at the following topics:
1. What is Management Coaching
2. How does Management Coaching work?
3. Should my organisation use services of a coach?
4. What are the challenges associated with choosing an external coach?
Coaching can be defined in various ways. It has, for example, been described as: “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is “helping them to learn rather than teaching them,” (Gallwey, 1975); “a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve,” (Parsloe, 1999); a flexible process “whereby an individual, through direct discussion and guided activity, helps a colleague to learn to solve a problem or to do a task better than would be otherwise the case,” (Megginson and Baydell, 1979); and concerning itself “with amplifying the individual’s own knowledge and thought processes. It is about creating a supportive environment in which to challenge and develop critical thinking skills.” (Guest, 1999).
For clarity, this is coaching as a professional development methodology – a tool to drive individual and organisational performance. It can be carried out externally by specialist coaches, as if often the case when dealing with the most senior executives, or by trained managers. The techniques and processes are similar to those used in other coaching disciplines, such as career coaching and life coaching, but in this coaching the focus is always on driving organisational performance.
HOW DOES COACHING WORK?
The aim is to develop an individual’s performance by unlocking their capabilities through guided conversation and questioning. The participation of the individual being coached (the coachee) in arriving at solutions is an essential part of the coaching process.
We are talking about something different to one way instruction, advising, or providing answers. A coach does not provide answers to specific problems by themselves, as such. They don’t teach or instruct. Instead they work with the coachee as a facilitator helping to raise awareness through analysis and reflection, and therefore enabling the person being coached to formulate their own ideas and solutions.
A good coach should be able to develop a powerful relationship with the person being coached based on honest and truthful dialogue, challenging perceptions and behaviour in a safe and secure environment.
In coaching of this kind the focus will be on the individual’s performance in the context of the performance of the organisation overall, raising awareness of their importance in and impact on the wider business. Because coaching involves the participation of the coachee, finding their own solutions and agreeing the actions they will take, it drives deeper and more lasting behavioural change.
SHOULD MY ORGANISATION USE INTERNAL OR EXTERNAL COACHING?
External coaching is predominantly reserved for senior professionals, where there tends to be the budget to support it. This is partly because CEOs and Board Directors rarely have the time it takes to coach their direct reports, but also because of confidentiality.
A line manager has an employment relationship with an individual which could hamper the willingness of both parties to talk candidly and to take an objective look at the coachee’s strengths and weaknesses of the coachee in relation to their role and organisation. External coaching, carried out by a specialist executive coach, is very different to coaching conducted internally. Because there is a different kind of relationship, external coaching allows for a different, possibly bigger conversation, and offers a broader perspective.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH CHOOSING AN EXTERNAL COACH?
The rapid growth of the executive coaching movement means that there are thousands of practising coaches. But there is also a lack of regulation in the market – currently anyone can practice as a coach. I think this is potentially dangerous. Especially as there is also an inherent perception with regard to lack of consistency or benchmarking across organisations regarding the procurement of coaching services.
Employers need support identifying and selecting recognised and experienced coaches, and measuring the impact of their coaching spend. This is where HR Metrics and Analytics become critical. From the past year we have been assisting organisations here in South Africa, Namibia and East Africa ( this year we are in Kampala, Tanzania and Zambia) on the very subject of creating knowledge base for strategic human capital measurements. Our mission as SHRM Support is to see clear benchmarks for the selection of executive and management coaches. Qualifications and membership of a professional body are obvious benchmarks to look for.
1.Timothy Gallwey, Inner Game of Tennis, Jonathan Cape, 1975
2. Eric Parsloe, The Manager As Coach And Mentor, 1999
3. David Megginson and Tom boydel, A manager’s Guide to Coaching, 1999
1. Guest, D E (1999) Human resource management: the workers’ verdict, Human Resource Management Journal,9 (2), pp 5–25