Coaching can sometimes be a time intensive and costly undertaking for companies and is often the part of learning and development programmes that is minimised or scaled back when budgets are tight. However, it is arguably the most crucial part of the development process, as it gives employees opportunities to put their learning to the test, receive direct feedback and even come up with new innovative ideas.
Invariably, the leadership programmes that make the most impact incorporate some form of coaching – whether one to one or as part of a group. Coaching aids not only personal development, but can also help bring about behavioural and strategic change within an organisation if implemented effectively. It is usually carried out as a follow on to a programme to embed behaviours, skills and techniques.
Effective coaching rests on strong relationships – both with senior members of the organisation to ensure that company needs and targets are met, and with those being coached to build trust and rapport. The coach / trainee relationship is best cultivated over a period of time, giving the opportunity for them to get to know one another and generate a long term relationship. For the coach this is all about understanding what makes their trainee tick – what language do they use, what are their aspirations, what demotivates them. For the trainee, this is the opportunity to learn and gain confidence in applying aspects of their training programmes.
A long term commitment and approach has the benefit of allowing behaviour to embed in the individual, and then the organisation as a knock on effect. This is often the reason that coaching is perceived as a costly endeavour.
The benefits far outweigh the on-costs involved. Companies that apply effective coaching tend to see an improvement in team harmony and morale and an increase in drive and ambition of employees, ultimately leading to increased sales and enhanced delivery.
Top tips for effective coaching are:
Learning log – Encourage those taking part in the programme to log their experience after each session. Taking an interest in their individual development and being able to refer back to achievements will give confidence in their skills.
Get under the skin of the team – Ensure you understand the culture and different personalities within the organisation. This way you can use real examples within the training programme and embed the company’s values and morals from the offset.
Knowing the organisation – Understand the organisation’s goals and match them with individual goals and motivations for the wider benefit of the business.
Take a personal interest in both team and individual goals – Show a commitment into tackling the different issues met by different members of the team. This helps the employee to see how meeting a personal goal can have a wider impact and help the team meet a target.
Ask questions that will create / unravel new perspectives – Asking questions is a good technique to encourage trainees to think around the subject and come up with their own solution. This helps develop creative thinking and gives the trainee confidence in their own abilities.
Build rapport – Get to know your trainee and talk to them on their level – use the language that they use and the company jargon to demonstrate empathy and demonstrate interest in their motivations. Prepare fully for the session so that you remember small details that are important to the trainee and can draw upon them in the session.
Regularity – Set regular intervals for coaching sessions and ensure that each one achieves something new or an action for the trainee to give a sense of progress.
Plan – ensure the session is planned efficiently and you have a clear understanding of the process and structure the session will take.
Goal – know what it is you want to explore with your trainee, assess the challenges you face and what your end goal is.
Feedback – Ensure that senior management are given feedback on the impact of the sessions so that they can see the resulting business benefit. However, this must be balanced carefully by showcasing success without breaking any confidences of your trainees.