In this tough economy, many organizations are cutting back and expect the remaining employees to do more with less. Top performers are feeling the heat and hitting the wall. How do business owners and managers raise the bar in this environment?
A recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) provides an answer: adopt a culture of coaching. Just as coaches can take star athletes to the next level on the playing field, coaches in the workplace can help employees reach heights that they couldn't imagine reaching on their own.
The ILM study found that 80% of the 250 UK companies surveyed are using or have used coaching as a development tool, and another 9% plan to do so. An astounding 96% say coaching has benefited the coached individual, while 95% say they believe it's also helped the organization.
Let's take a closer look at the purpose and benefits of coaching - and how it can benefit your organization. (In future posts, I'll examine some of the problem areas identified by the survey. It's not all good news.)
The best coaches help people unlock hidden potential, whether in a game or in the workplace. It's very different from traditional boss-worker relationships, where the manager is the superior, the expert, the teacher or the enforcer. Instead, a coach guides, asks questions and tries to draw performance out of an individual. Coaches can be managers, fellow employees or outsiders hired for the specific purpose of coaching. The benefits of a good coach tend to be consistent, regardless of the source.
Given the nature of coaching, it comes as no surprise that the development of personal skills is a major reason and a major benefit. In the ILM survey, 53% of respondents said their companies offered coaching for personal development. Only 26% said it was to improve specific areas of work performance.
The benefits skew toward personal development, too. For example, 43% of the ILM respondents cited an improvement in self-awareness while 42% reported it boosted self-confidence. Other benefits identified were better leadership, management and communication skills, improved conflict resolution abilities, higher motivation, better attitudes and improved preparation for a new role within the organization.
The ILM survey respondents praised workplace coaching: 96% said it benefits the coached individuals and 95% agreed it helps the organization. Even 93% of the respondents who work at companies that don't practice coaching could identify benefits. These are impressive results for any professional development initiative.
Coaching requires an investment of time and money and the survey reveals some areas of concern. I'll be taking a closer look at these in future posts. If your organization hasn't adopted a coaching program, why hasn't it? Please use the comments section to share your experiences.
Creating a Coaching Culture (2011). Institute of Leadership and Management