Tips for Coaching to Maximize Potential
Once upon a time, most hotels and restaurants were run by bosses, not managers. These types were more concerned with enforcing the party line, keeping employees in check, and doling out punishment than transformative leadership. Over the last several decades, however, a new paradigm of business management has emerged, calling for a more proactive, collaborative, and strategic approach.
Today's new breed of training and development experts have brought methods from the football field into the boardroom in order to enhance management performance. Could your team benefit from coaching?
The coaching concept in a business context
First of all, what exactly is coaching? Basically, it's a style of intensive training that relies more on collaboration, dialogue, and interaction than traditional, instructor-led educational models do. Rather than directly providing the learner with correct information, coaches are more likely to work with their trainees to develop effective methods for framing questions, identifying challenges, and devising solutions on their own. This training method parallels the philosophy of the old adage: "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime."
Another key characteristic of coaching is that this type of training often unfolds over a longer period of time than traditional instruction. According to Kelly O'Neil, Chief Strategy Officer for coaching firm UpLevel Strategies, it is not uncommon for a coach-trainee partnership to last for a year or longer, particularly among the upper ranks of executive or corporate leaders. This extended time frame is geared to help ingrain the methods and lessons that are imparted in the course of the training at a much deeper level than can typically be attained in shorter, traditional courses.
Coaching for growth and development
The demands placed upon today's managers and executive leaders are unprecedented in scope and breadth. With this much at stake, a growing number of organizations are unwilling to leave the selection of future managers and executives to chance. Instead, many firms now have processes in place to flag trainees with above-average potential and connect them with an internal or external trainer.
Growth and development coaching are some of the methods that are being used with increasing frequency to help gifted trainees, supervisors, and managers fully realize their potential. With the help of a coach, these future leaders form a partnership that fosters their ascent through the organizational ranks in a manner that is mutually beneficial to the firm and the individual.
Even the most potentially talented manager or executive may not be able to develop his or her skills to the fullest without outside help. In some cases, newly promoted 'superstars' may crumble under the pressure of great expectations and fail to deliver once they are in a leadership position. The use of a coach to foster and support development has been shown to drastically reduce these adverse outcomes. Among all other types of management training, numerous studies have identified coaching as having the best return on investment.
Management and executive coaching
Another rising trend is intensive coaching targeted to high-level managers and executives. This type of coaching is often assigned to an outsourced coaching professional. A professional coach's objectivity and outsider stance may help them to identify problems and create solutions that may elude insiders enmeshed in the company and its organizational culture.
Some critics have derided the coaching trend as little more than the next training fad. However, unlike many of the dubious training trends that have gained widespread popularity only to quickly fade away after a few months in the spotlight, the legitimacy of executive training has been supported by research findings. O'Neill cites a recent study that found that executives who underwent coaching reported marked improvements in working relationships with clients, peers, staff, and supervisors, increased job satisfaction and organizational commitment, and reduced conflict.
Tips for cultivating a coaching atmosphere in your organization
Not ready to commit to a partnership with an outside coaching professional? Not to worry. According to experts, you can encourage many of the same effects achieved by coaches by promoting an atmosphere of learning, reflection, inquiry, and continuous improvement in the workplace.
- Make an effort to include staff members at all levels in the decision making process
- Involve the whole team in developing a short roster of viable, measurable objectives
- Solicit input from all levels for possible solutions to existing challenges
- Share the results, modify strategies, and begin the process again
- Adopt policies that reward full-team participation and collaboration