Workplace Coaching: High Return on Investment for Those Willing to Dig In

by Bill Swift on December 10, 2018

in Leadership

Training, mentoring and coaching: Giống, khác nhau thế nào?

I was working with a group of new supervisors last month and reviewing this thing we call coaching. I asked them to reflect on their willingness to dig in to the coaching role. Two things became very clear in the discussion. One, there was a great deal of reluctance to take on the coaching role. Two, many held the misconception that the primary activities in coaching had something to do with hovering and directing.

Clearly, not all of us were born to coach or lead. Great coaching requires a commitment and an accountability mind-set that takes time and energy, sometimes a lot of both. And, it takes the willingness to develop and maintain relationships through all sorts of challenging, and sometimes awkward, moments. Effective coaches recognize when they have the positive relationship bank account well established so they can leverage improved employee performance, productivity, stewardship, and commitment.

The Leadership Challenge (Kouzes and Pozner) is an oldie-but-a-goodie exploration of what experiences help develop leaders and coaches. This very readable book tells stories of false starts, failures, uncertainty … all the stuff aspiring coaches in the real world experience on the way to effectiveness.

A more recent work, Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin, outlines a similar process of struggles, mistakes, and misjudgments that characterized some of our greatest national leaders before they found their true, most effective selves, even in tough times.

What we get from the stories is a nice take-away. A set of characteristics that differentiate effective coaches. It turns out that great coaches:

  • Challenge the Process
  • Inspire a Shared Vision
  • Enable Others to Act
  • Model the Way
  • Encourage the Heart

Simple, right? But you can certainly see the work that it might take to accomplish all of these things while getting your other stuff done. Great coaches simply make a decision to lean into all the challenges that coaching might bring and seem to act on faith that it will all be worth the effort.

How many of us now challenged with being effective workplace coaches actually wanted this role and then actually asked for it? Many of us were invited into the supervisor’s role because we were competent in some area and others thought we should be “promoted.” Next thing we knew we were dealing with human beings which can be one of the most rewarding or frustrating endeavors we will ever experience.

The reluctance we see from supervisors is usually based in concerns about awkward moments, resistance or defensiveness, being too busy, uncertainty about conveying a negative message, distaste for delivering bad news. These are not small hurdles to overcome. Most of us need some coaching ourselves to resolve some of these concerns.

You might say with all these challenges and impediments, “Why bother?” Well, all this investment happens to really pay huge dividends!! Where we see effective coaching we see much higher employee commitment scores, improved retention, and increased productivity. Leaders who are in the 90th percentile for coaching effectiveness have employee commitment scores in the 88th percentile. It doesn’t take a financial analyst to total up the kind of impact good coaching is going to have on the bottom line.

Come join us for a few hours to explore some of these themes and how you might improve your workplace coaching relationships, on February 13 in Eugene or April 3 in Portland.

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