Updated: Mar 11, 2019
You cannot enforce something that people neither want or understand
Adopting a culture of coaching mindsets amongst any workforce is commendable and will pay you dividends as a business owner time and time again. It not only empowers your employees in a very different way, but it also drives accountability, and allows in turn for the pace of change to go up a few gears in times of transition. However, before embarking on a programme or a step change in your business around adopting coaching behaviours, there are a few check points to consider for it to work well and create tangible results.
As business owners, leaders, managers, it’s inevitable that you want the best for your employees - after all, they are your biggest asset! So, by bringing in coaching as a development tool, you need to understand what it is you are trying to achieve for the simple reason that this dynamic is very different to training. With training programmes, it’s more of a pushing out of information to a group of people, more of a directing approach. Coaching however, is the complete opposite as it aims to extract information from the coachee.
Furthermore, it is always the coachee’s agenda and never the agenda of the coach - something that sadly many people who THINK they are good at coaching fail to realise!
So, one of the first check points to think about, is who is playing the part of the coach? Is this someone from within your business or do you employ someone externally? Either way, they need to have a set of skills that are paramount for a good result. You would be surprised how many of these skills are lacking in people who consider themselves to be good coaches, therefore, being aware of them in the first place will put you in a better position.
The next thing to consider is the WHY behind bringing coaching into the workplace. Some people do it to enhance particular training programmes they are running as it cements the learning by enabling individuals to implement the tools and takeaways from the training. Other reasons could be around driving change in the business which coaching will allow you to do at a much quicker pace. It may be that your company needs to focus inwards on developing its people and therefore, people looking at themselves first is a great way to start. Coaching can also be positioned as part of a rewards programme such as recognition for the top 3 employees from your organisation offering them a 12-month contract working 1:1 with a personal coach.
Notice the word “offering”, coming back to my earlier point about coaching not being for everyone. There’s a saying about “working with the light” which is exactly this point! The coaching relationship, if executed correctly is something that not everyone wants to participate in. Therefore, only work with people who are ready for this.
There could be a million reasons why someone does not want to embark on this sort of work presently. It’s a very personal relationship between coach and coachee, one that goes deep and will inevitably be touching on issues of a challenging nature. People need to be ready to “hold up the looking glass” and go within, digging deep, venturing unchartered waters - after all, if they had been there before, why would they need a coach? The coach is simply the vessel that eventually enables the coachee to answer the questions they were not able to ask themselves! Sounds easy doesn’t it? WRONG. It’s an art and a skill to be a top quality coach, but the good ones will bring about incredible results and transformation for individuals and your business!
You also need to position coaching to your people in the correct way too, explaining WHY you are introducing it and what it is designed to do. You might be wise at this point to apply a good old-fashioned sales saying – “what’s in it for me?” This may well be a massive change in your company, therefore how you communicate this is imperative. Why should they take you up on this? How much of their time do they need to invest? Why now? Is it the same as training? How much will it cost?
These are typical questions to consider before you introduce this to your employees. There will be a myriad of questions once you have pressed the button from people wanting to understand this more - typically they will think it is counselling or therapy or for the REAL sceptics in your teams, a bit “woo woo”! Therefore, you have to fully understand this process in depth yourself before stepping into it.
Coaching and therapy or counselling, are very different in many ways so make sure you understand HOW they differ. Counselling and therapy tend to deal with things from the past that have lead to the present situation and the challenges that presents. It also calls for a very different skill set to that of a coach, more of a clinical nature. Coaching however, generally deals with the here and now and the future. Now, obviously it’s never as black and white as that and the lines may occasionally blur, but as a skilled coach it’s about knowing the point at which you draw the line on your expertise and advise the coachee to take a different area of advice.
So be clear when starting a coaching culture in your business. Get the basics right and ensure that YOU as the stakeholder have an in-depth understanding of the whole process and how it is going to pan out in your organisation. Is it something to be done every month? Internal or external coach? How do you position it with people? Is it going to be something available to everyone?
And when you DO get it right, it will pay you dividends by having a more aware workforce who are wholly accountable for their results and performance. The benefits to any organisation from this approach are:
Highly aware people
Improved employee engagement
Higher levels of motivation
Improved pace of change
More cohesive behaviours amongst teams
Deeper levels of trust
If you think your organisation could benefit from a coaching culture, why not get in touch with us. We'll be happy to come in and discuss where you feel we could help you.