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The case for coaching: How can businesses improve performance?

Author: The Oxford Group, Published: 10 October 2019

We’ve long been advocates of using effective coaching in the workplace, whether that’s focused sessions at executive level with a defined outcome, or empowering leaders to use coaching skills themselves in their interactions with their teams. It’s a way to improve performance and productivity throughout your business – coaching often has a ‘trickle down’ effect, improving engagement and effectiveness exponentially. However, research conducted by our colleagues in the City & Guilds Group has revealed that employers who don’t offer coaching or train their managers in coaching skills are actually putting their organisations at risk.

City & Guilds Group surveyed over 1,000 UK professionals on their thoughts and experiences of coaching in the workplace. It clearly demonstrates the value of coaching to the future of the UK workforce: 79% of UK professionals say they consider coaching useful for adopting new technologies and ways of working. The research reveals that coaching also is integral to productivity and performance, with 84% of workers saying that coaching should be part of every business’s management and development programme.
 

The benefits of coaching

The Institute of Coaching cites many potential benefits for individuals, from becoming more self-reliant to contributing more effectively to a team. They found in their own research that 80% of people who received coaching reports an increase in self-confidence, and over 70% benefitted from improved work performance.

These micro-successes all add up to larger, macro effects across an organization. According to the City & Guilds study, 76% of employees believe coaching is helpful when going through periods of organisational change, and 79% say it’s useful for adopting new technologies and ways of working. In addition, as businesses begin to see staff from five generations working side-by-side, two thirds (64%) of those surveyed say that coaching has already become important in facilitating intergenerational working.

Coaching plays a critical part in boosting productivity as people move between roles or embrace portfolio careers, both growing trends in today’s workplace. Changing role often means facing new challenges, and amongst the respondents that had changed role in their company, over a quarter (27%) report taking four months or more to work to the best of their ability afterwards, with 10% taking seven months or longer. Demonstrating the impact of coaching on performance, the research found that people who didn’t receive coaching at this critical moment are over eight times more likely to say that they still don’t feel able to work to the best of their ability, compared to those that did receive coaching.

John Yates, Managing Director, City & Guilds Group, commented: “Coaching is an easily accessible tool that empowers employers to undertake successful organisational and technological transformation, while boosting workforce engagement, performance and productivity. Our research demonstrates that people place real value in coaching, a fact that employers cannot afford to overlook. Being so easy to implement, and yet affecting employees and the wider organisation so positively, coaching is a missed trick for employers that fail to get on board.”
 

Failure to invest

The research also reveals that companies that don’t provide coaching opportunities risk leaving employees feeling undervalued. Of those respondents that haven’t been offered coaching by their current employer, lack of investment (33%), taking staff for granted (31%), leaders’ disinterest in staff (22%) and a lack of understanding on the value of coaching (22%) are listed as the most common reasons.

Gary Shewan, Learning & Development Consultant, Legal and General, revealed:

“Embedding a culture of coaching is a key component of our Talent Development Programme and continues to have a positive impact on Legal & General. Involving managers at all levels to support the programme has meant that learning and development is very much in line with business needs, resulting in a step change in how learning and development is perceived across the organisation with staff recognising the need for continual learning – which is so important if individuals, teams and the company as a whole is to keep up with the pace of change. Not only has retention improved, but employee engagement continues to improve, and we can also see a measurable improvement to performance as delegates are able to implement projects worked on during the programme to deliver customer benefits and business efficiencies.”