If you’re interested in coaching (or being coached) within a corporate environment, you’re likely wondering how to talk with employers about the value of coaching and leadership development.
In most every coach training program out there, you’ll learn all about the benefits of coaching for an individual client. But what about the broader organizational benefits that arise from coaching within a business context? Why should companies invest in coaching for their employees? In this article, we’ll set you up with strong talking points to make that case.
What does coaching look like in a business environment?
Let’s start with a quick review of the basics.
Coaching is a partnership where coach and coachee come together to set goals and co-create a plan to achieve them. The coach provides a framework, asks powerful questions, and provides encouragement and motivation.
Coaching within a business environment is personalized, conducted over time, and almost always one-on-one with a specific objective or business goal in mind.
Coaching can be used to:
- Help prepare for new roles and assignments
- Improve habits
- Overcome obstacles
- Set and achieve goals within the organization
- Increase effectiveness in communication
- Increase capability in giving and receiving feedback
- Deepen listening and focus
- Support company culture through strengthening shared vision and values
Coaching is NOT counseling, mentoring, or a method of discipline... nor is it a form of advising or teaching. It’s a framework and process that helps the coachee set and achieve goals, moving from one level of competency to the next.
What is the value of coaching to your business?
1. Coaching leads to better performance and higher employee engagement
The survey discovered that 51% of respondents from organizations that invested in coaching reported higher revenue than that of other similar organizations.
Not only that, but 62% of employees in organizations that embraced a coaching culture considered themselves “highly engaged.” In itself, high engagement leads to better business outcomes, including lower absenteeism and higher loyalty and retention. That’s music to any manager’s ears.
Respondents to that same survey reported improvements in five distinct areas:
- Team functioning
- Increased employee engagement
- Increased employee productivity
- Better employee relations
- Quicker leadership development
2. Coaching positively affects the bottom line
Developing leaders who can effectively coach their teams is crucial to achieving business outcomes. And yet... all too often, people are promoted into management because they are highly capable in the technical aspects of their job. While talented, many of these folks never received any training on how to lead other people, and may lack the soft skills required to thrive in these roles.
Coaching helps leaders and managers to:
- Build Emotional Intelligence
- Assist their teams to self-manage
- Find more diverse solutions
- Develop the workforce
- Bring empathy to the workplace
- Positively impact retention through developing a strengths-based culture
A manager with strong coaching skills can help forge and maintain connections, ensuring that all team members are growing and achieving more together. This is especially true of younger leaders who are eager to understand more about their own biases and strengths.
Participating in a coach training program themselves can also equip leaders to navigate diverse points of view, recognize the strengths and differences of others, and acquire tangible skills to rally and motivate teams around a common goal.
3. Coaching helps align goals and leadership initiatives more effectively
Certain situations call upon employees to make difficult, timely decisions on their own. Other moments call for a more collaborative, engaged response from an entire team. A coach can help executive teams and working groups develop a shared framework for decision making. This in turn prepares an organization to respond to outside pressures more consistently - and effectively - over the long term.
4. Developing internal coaches can help solve important organizational issues
Coaching is a forward-thinking investment that is directly linked to driving strategic initiatives. Cultivating the ability of employees to communicate clearly, ask powerful questions, and align diverse points of view can save innumerable headaches at the organizational level. Coaching offers a powerful framework for creative and effective problem solving. When deployed across a company, it creates a culture of excellence.
5. Coaching makes good employees even better
Coaching works best within an environment where people are open to feedback and willing to change and grow. And it's not just for those employees who “need improvement”. If anything, coaching is a professional development benefit that supports performers across all levels to achieve their full potential.
Even the most talented employees can benefit from a coach providing powerful questions, problem solving assistance, and motivation. In fact, investing in the continued development of your high performers can offer a profound return on investment. Those who commit to coaching often contribute to creating a more respectful environment, model increased candor and openness, and develop better skills to help the organization reach its goals.
Investing in an employee who is interested in coach training is a win-win. Not only do employees feel valued as a result of a training and credentialing opportunity, but high performing employees see having access to an internal coach as a built-in job benefit.
Engaged employees are worth their weight in gold.
“The consequences of employee disengagement are particularly damaging. Studies have found that disengaged employees are less productive, more likely to steal from their company, negatively influence their coworkers, miss more workdays, and drive customers away. In the United States alone, actively disengaged employees cost an estimated $450-550 billion per year in lost productivity.” - Global Workforce Study
According to the global growth management firm Willis Towers Watson, employee engagement is an "employees' willingness and ability to contribute to company success".
While we might say that engagement “should” be the standard for every employee, reality paints a different picture. However, according to the latest Gallup data, only 15% of employees worldwide and 35% in the U.S. fall in the "engaged" category.
Over the past 50 years, Gallup has been conducting surveys to measure employee engagement. What these researchers say without hesitation is that engaged employees produce better business results.
Key takeaways from their findings include:
“People want purpose and meaning from their work. They want to be known for what makes them unique. This is what drives employee engagement. And they want relationships, particularly with a manager who can coach them to the next level. This is who drives employee engagement." Gallap
One of Gallup's biggest discoveries? The manager or team leader alone accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement.
Strong managers who possess the ability to coach and mentor others results in higher employee retention and satisfaction. This in turn leads to higher productivity, increased creativity and problem solving skills, and better business results.
“According to the Building Strong Coaching Cultures for the Future, a 2019 study from the International Coaching Federation and the Human Capital Institute (HCI), developing coaching skills for leaders is an ongoing process in organisations with strong coaching cultures.
Since 2014, managers and leaders using coaching skills continue to be the most deployed coaching modality for organisations that have participated in the 6 ICF/HCI research on the topic, with 82 per cent versus 60 per cent for external coach practitioners and 57 per cent for internal coach practitioners.
When asked how these offerings may be differentiated in the future, 83 per cent of respondents said they plan to increase even more the use of managers/leaders using coaching skills within the next five years.” - HR Katha
Putting It Into Practice
What techniques do coaches use in a business setting?
There are many tools and methods available to coaches working within a business environment. Some of these include:
- Developing an ability to articulate vision, values, strategies, goals and alignment
- Aiding a coachee in setting strong goals and developing a plan to move forward, with an eye to obstacles and other issues
- Helping the coachee set priorities and distinguish what’s most important to focus on
- Meeting regularly, with topical assignments to consider in between
- Personality / behavioral assessments to help the coachee understand their current strengths and pinpoint areas for development
- Gently encouraging coachees out of their comfort zone
- Celebrating wins and empathizing with losses
- Recommending books, lectures or other sources of information for growth
- Listening well and asking powerful questions to help the coachee solve their own problems
- Helping employees gain awareness of non-verbal communication and the best ways to share information
- Practicing difficult conversations and skill building via role playing
- Creating systems and surveys to track the impact of coaching on the organization itself and on participants in coaching
- Clearly defining priorities and expectations
- Building skills to communicate more effectively face to face (not by memo or e-mail) up and down the organization
- Developing approaches to instill confidence in staff members and their work
Coaching is a partnership, not a hierarchy. The coach’s expertise lies in the ability to help the coachee think strategically, better understand themselves and others, and develop their own solutions.
A coach does not advise or consult. Instead, they regard the coachee as the expert, both in their own life as well as within their role at the organization. It’s the job of the coach to help the coachee create a plan to build competency and achieve specific goals.
Coaches can be either internal, or contracted from outside an organization to work with leaders, employees, and teams.
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