The importance of coaching your future now
The Oxford Group
10 January 2021
It is an over-used phrase but these are turbulent times and with that comes uncertainty and an inevitable need for reassurance in the workplace. Now, more so than ever, people want leaders who have a strong sense of self and organisation – their abilities, values and strategic direction – and are engaging, inspiring, assured and calm under pressure. They also want them to build deeper connections with them – recent research by Gartner has shown that employers who support their employees more holistically realise a 21% increase in high performers.*
In other words, leadership is a combination of both the doing and the being, and reflects not only their technical skills and accomplishments but also who that leader is as a person. However, all this is a lot to ask of someone relatively new to leadership or when they are transitioning into a new role.
Astonishingly, there are still a number of organisations that expect their high potential talent to magically morph into their leaders of the future without investing in their development. Fortunately that is not universally the case and we are seeing many organisations setting up talent development programmes with great effect. These programmes do sometimes include coaching but this valuable tool is still underutilised for this group.
Coaching is instead traditionally seen as the preserve of senior leaders due, in large part, to the perceived expense involved in providing such intense personalised one-to-one support. Equally, it can also sometimes be seen as a remedial intervention to be used only once someone feels they need that support. However, this is far from the case and coaching can be used to great effect when targeting specific areas for development or maximising strengths.
Just imagine the difference coaching could make to your future leaders - your high potential talent and middle managers – to keep them grounded, focused and mentally equipped to deal with whatever life throws at them. Giving their careers a real springboard now will boost their engagement with your organisation and get them working more effectively for you at a time when we all need a little extra help.
- Improve effectiveness
Coaching provides an individual with the perfect opportunity to step back and take a good look at themselves. Before any coaching commences, they will be asked to gather feedback from their manager, colleagues and direct reports to give insight into their behaviour and how they are perceived. The coach will dive deeper into this in the coaching sessions, adding in their own observations.
This level of feedback and space to reflect is invaluable to help the coachee recognise behaviours and triggers in themselves so that they can take actions to address areas that need improving. The positive impact just this aspect of coaching has on the coachee’s effectiveness will be immeasurable and sets in place good habits for the rest of their career. Even more pertinent is the fact that 86% of companies feel the resulting improvements in work performance more than recoup their investment in coaching.**
- Build resilience and confidence
Setbacks are an unavoidable part of work life at the moment but the important thing is to bounce back quickly from them and build on the experience. It is developing this resilience in these uncertain times that will enable high-potential talent to come into their own.
Coaching helps coachees to explore their responses to difficult or complex situations in a safe environment which will then inform their actions and decisions when they face real challenges in their work life. It allows them to respond in a measured clear way to any situation and to quickly take on board any learnings.
- Create agents for change
Recent research by McKinsey showed that the US experienced 10 years’ growth in e-commerce penetration in just 3 months in 2020.*** We have also seen a number of high-profile examples recently of organisations failing because they were out of step with the times and didn’t have the agility to adapt before it was too late. It has never been truer that it is the organisations thinking creatively and not just proactively identifying opportunities but seizing them with both hands which are surviving these times.
Coaches are invaluable for helping to highlight alternative perspectives and making coachees look at people and situations in completely different lights. This has clear resonance for senior leaders but they are not the sole fonts of knowledge in your organisation – your middle managers will often have a greater insight into the issues and needs of your customers and the organisation. Coaching will open up their minds to the bigger picture and organisational implications, helping them to be curious and inspire innovation.
- Boost employee engagement
No matter how adept you are at the technical aspects of your role, a leader will never get the best from their people unless they can communicate effectively. Without great communication skills it will be impossible for them to create a supportive work environment and enhance employee engagement.
Not only that, it will lose their organisation money – businesses in the top quartile of Gallup’s global employee engagement database are 23% more profitable that those in the bottom quartile.****
Unfortunately, good communication doesn’t come naturally to everyone but it is a skill which can be developed and nurtured. A coach will help the coachee to understand how they come across to others and how to fine-tune messages so that they elicit the best response from all and get everyone working together towards a common goal.
- Drive performance
Your middle managers are directly responsible for engaging, motivating and directing the majority of your workforce. Therefore, it goes without saying that they will have the biggest impact on the success of your strategic vision on the ground.
Coaching gives them the tools and insight that will allow them to confidently delegate and collaborate effectively as well as build trust and reassurance in their teams. This empowers them to unlock the full potential in their teams and will have an obvious impact on organisational performance.
Regardless of what stage our career is at, we would all benefit from the opportunity and space to talk freely and confidentially to someone objective to gain a different perspective, experiment with new ideas and practices and learn from failures. Combining this with any tool, processes and techniques that the coach suggests is invaluable for personal development and to build competence.
But don’t just take our word for it, this is the experience of one of our coachees:
An enjoyable journey of self-discovery that reinforced and grew my own self-awareness, challenged personal traits I knew existed and supported me in focusing on soft skill development to increase my confidence and keep me on track to being the leader I want to be in the future.
And the good news is that this is more accessible than you might realise - targeted coaching support that focuses on areas for development is a scalable and affordable way to accelerate the development of your high-potential talent and middle managers and establish good behaviours early on.
The stretch and challenge that coaches provide will ultimately have a far-reaching and lasting positive impact on the coachees and, by default, their teams and your organisation. The opportunity to improve employee engagement and organisational performance at a time when your workforce potentially feels fragmented and disenfranchised is not to be ignored - speak to us today about our Accelerate coaching packages.
* Gartner (2020). 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey
** ICF, 2009
*** McKinsey (2020). McKinsey Quarterly Five Fifty - The Quickening
**** Gallup (2020). Employee Engagement and Performance: Latest Insights From the World’s Largest Study