The highlight of the event was the 1 ½ hour, panel discussion: The Business Impact of Leaders as Coaches.
Coaching provides a comprehensive and dynamic avenue to support people in their growth and abilities to manage complex, adaptive challenges.
There are very few barriers to help people master technical skills – the day to day tasks that employees do to accomplish their job (computer skills, data entry, filing, operating machinery, etc.) This implies that the challenge exists in increasing the skills it takes to do other parts of our work: supervising people and teams, building partnerships, collaborating with key stakeholders, getting along with coworkers, and dealing with change to name a few…
A corporate culture of coaching means nothing is off the table. As with any type of coaching, the coach (or supervisor) empowers employees to really wrestle with each challenge which is where the growth happens. The supervisor or coach steps back and allows the employee to truly be an expert in their role. Supervisors encourage risk-taking and curiosity and support failure with time for reflection.
Change is the name of the game.
Dan Price, Founder and CEO of Gravity Payments explains that leaders have to constantly seek out how to evolve, and if they stay the same for any period of time, they become incompetent at their jobs.
This idea of evolution and change was an undercurrent throughout the entire evening. Coaching is about supporting people in that evolutionary growth and professional development. Coaching also helps organizations respond to the often fast-paced, daily changes that occur in businesses, ensuring that they can keep up with the demanding nature of that environment, as well as drive performance and outcomes. So, coaching is a necessary strategy for change leadership.
A culture of coaching is a process.
Seems pretty obvious. But creating a culture of coaching does not occur like an inoculation. Providing key managers with training on coaching does not create a culture of coaching. Nor does it mean to have a coaching culture if you simply add ‘coaching ’ as a job responsibility.
Creating a culture of coaching involves a top to bottom shift in business. It includes training and making it an expectation of all employees that being coached and coaching others will be part of their daily job duties. It also includes: transparent discussions about what goals employees are working on; continual feedback up, down and sideways; eliciting and incorporating input from every level of the organization; and believing in the potential of each employee. Integrating this in the day to day business takes time and champions.
Coaching done right includes regular evaluation.
Most organizations typically complete annual performance reviews and track sales, revenue, and performance on a semi-regular basis. A culture of coaching creates an environment where employee performance and development are reviewed regularly and employees receive frequent feedback and support from both their supervisor and their team members. Adobe Systems even did away with annual performance reviews given the cost to the organization and the variability in which they were conducted across their organization. This culture can also include evaluating the coaching itself. Dan Price with Gravity Payments checks in regularly with the employees he supervises and simply asks, “Is this working for you? Are you getting what you want?”
Creating a culture of coaching takes an investment from the top leaders and it takes time to integrate into an organization’s daily operations. The process is also iterative and evolving in nature, but as the 5 organizations at this even described, taking the time to do so improves employee morale, improves employee retention, and improves organizational performance.