Why bother with a coaching approach? What benefits will we see and how will our people be impacted? Done well, coaching delivers lots of brilliant results but let’s focus on 3 clear benefits you will experience when you adopt a coaching approach. Empowerment, Enablement, Engagement.
Empower. Empowerment is people finding their own solutions to the challenges that they face, their own actions to improve their performance, their own voice to address their concerns and the belief that they already have within them, everything they need to do whatever they wish. Coaching shines a light on empowerment because by its very nature it has the coachee, the team member, the client at its heart and everything a coach, or a coaching conversation does, is in service of the client. This is about ownership, accountability and ultimately trust.
A subtle shift from empowerment is enablement. Once the belief is there, the actions follow and a coaching culture facilitates and enables people to set about doing the things they have committed to do. If you establish a coaching approach and the scope of this is limited to the context of the conversations you are having then you will fail. There is no point inspiring people to make the changes they aspire to if the systems and processes that you have then restrict them from doing just that. It’s like expecting someone to achieve a goal while they’ve got a blindfold on and their hands tied behind their back. This means making performance data available for them to self-serve, feedback channels to be open so they can escalate issues and improvements, knowledge tools to be comprehensive and trusted, learning materials – and time to access them – to be available and relevant.
Engagement is a vast topic in its own right so the focus here is on connection and relationships. Employee engagement studies worldwide repeatedly identify that the relationship an employee has with their manager is the single most influential factor on that employee’s engagement levels. Coaching improves engagement, especially when part of that coaching involves leader to team member coaching (or vice versa). The relationship between coach and coachee contains trust, a belief in betterment, a desire to improve… ultimately strengthening understanding and interpersonal relations.
In addition, we are built for connection, and that’s taken on a whole new meaning recently. There’s a social element to this, obviously, and there’s a psychological element of feeling part of something, which is often manifested through shared experiences, such as facing things together. More than that though, there is a deeper connection to be made, in that we can talk about things that matter to us and be heard and understood. Now that thing that matters could be relatively trivial or it could be much deeper but the point is that we look to our colleagues, peers and managers to hear us, acknowledge us and let us be. This is much harder to do now that we’re working remotely, but not impossible. Making time for coaching style conversations will help to build those relationships, address intrinsic factors and improve engagement.
This is the fourth in a short series of blogs on the why, what and how of a coaching approach. Read previous blogs on the website. Next week – how to make it happen!