Research Paper By Sylvia Macedo
(Executive Coaching, United States)
Coaching is not only a growing profession worldwide but also a growing communication style adopted by managers, teachers, parents, friends, and others. Numerous studies now exist that provide evidence that coaching in the workplace is an effective strategy for boosting productivity, morale, job satisfaction and profitability.
The coaching process affects individual lives by helping people know themselves better, manage themselves better, relate more productively with others, and develop approaches to think about and address challenging situations (Jean L. Hurd, 2003).
This paper reinforces the impact coaching can have in the lives and in the performance of individuals at work. The interest on this topic comes from working in different organizations and mainly from experiencing the effects of different working environments where, in the majority of them, coaching was not present.
It is grounded in a belief that organizational success ultimately is the result of individuals successfully working with other individuals, in groups, teams, departments, across functions, and ultimately as a corporate entity. Coaching can be effectively used to help building stronger relationships and ultimately help creating a better work environment.
A Working Definition of Coaching
Coaching should be an individualized instruction that is mutually desired (by the coach and coachee). There are two key points that inform the rest of this paper:
I. Coaching is individualized: as we know, employees’ performance and abilities in the work place differ from one to the other. To get their best, coaching skills need to address their unique strengths and needs.
II. Coaching must be mutually desired to be effective: if the employee is not engaged coaching is less likely to succeed. A successful coaching session happens when an employee’s desire is present. If desire is absent, this is the first change that needs to occur.
Revolutionary discoveries in science would suggest that individual change at any level could have an enormous ripple effect. If, as the study of chaos has shown, “a butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo can affect the weather in New York,” an individual contributor can have a similar effect in an organization.
The benefits of good coaching flow in all directions. A positive behavior change in one individual can have an ongoing positive effect throughout his or her sphere of influence and beyond, with a potential return of investment far exceeding one individual’s performance improvement. Coaching is not only for executives. The more that lower levels of the organization develop self-management and relationship skills, the sooner the organization reaps the benefit. By the time a person without these skills reaches the upper management levels of the company, it is likely that he or she will cost more to the organization to develop those skills than if that investment had occurred when he or she was still a junior employee.
The Coaching Mindset
Adopting a coaching mindset, building the attitude of a learner, and conveying high expectations are all essential in creating the mutuality required by coaching.
The foundation of coaching is the development of a growth-oriented, positive mindset in the manager (as the coach in our organization). An effective manager is stimulated by the development of an employee’s excellence and views the coaching process as a noble endeavor. Coaching is one of the skills the manager can use to get the best out of their employees. Good management is not an isolated, one-time activity of the manager; it is rather a process that pervades the entire managerial function.
Recognizing and Identifying Strengths and Potential
Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant said, “Find the employee’s strengths; that’s all you have to work with.” Unfortunately, very few managers are trained in spotting strengths or potential in people. Most of us are more acutely aware of what is wrong with others and ourselves. Managers who are good coaches tend to focus more on the talents, ability, and skills that are inherent in the employee. When we know our employee’s strengths we can help develop them even further, allowing the person to experience new things at work and getting the recognition they need. A combination that is key to the coaching mindset is the manager’s belief in his or her people’s capabilities plus an ability to convey this faith. In working with employees, the expectations communicated about their achievement can have a powerful effect upon the results they achieve. When a manager conveys limited expectations or negative messages, the following chain of events can take place for the employee:
Positive expectations should not be confused with unrealistic ones. In order to convey high expectations effectively, the manager needs to tie them to a specific strength or previous achievement. Be realistic about obstacles but also be realistic about the employee’s strength, potential, and ability to overcome them. Acknowledge obstacles; encourage overcoming them. This is achievable by spending time with the employee and working together on the development of a Personal Development Plan and in defining their work commitments for the year ahead.
Often managers’ coaching objectives are relatively narrow, i.e., they focus on someone improving at the immediate task at hand instead of focusing on the “bigger picture”. Managers with a coaching mindset hope to achieve broader goals with their employees. They want people to develop their potential, learn to be team workers, take greater responsibility, become problem solvers, and take the initiative to develop themselves. As coaches, managers have the opportunity, on both a short-term and a long-term basis, to determine how far their people will go in achieving these goals.
Coaching – What to focus on?
Managers should focus on four specific steps in order to be effective and allow employee development: observation; feedback; instruction and follow up.