Why organizations with a culture of coaching are better

[Excerpted from Andrew Neitlich's forthcoming book, Coach!….]

If an individual who works willingly with a coach is better, it makes sense that an entire organization filled with people who are receptive to coaching is better too.

Coaching is not a panacea that can solve all of a company’s problems. It is also not the only tool available to develop talent in an organization, but it can make a company better, and it deserves a place as one of the most important tools to improve performance.

Visit the International Coach Federation website (coachfederation.org) for the latest research about the benefits and results of coaching. According to most studies, coaching returns $4 to $8 for every dollar invested.

The benefits of coaching to organizations include the following:

·        improved loyalty by the people being coached

·        improved relationships up, down, and across the organization

·        improved teamwork

·        improved productivity

Once you know how coaching works, it makes common sense that coaching brings the above benefits. Coaching enables people to discuss issues beyond analytic content. The people being coached start to focus on how well they relate to others, they learn about working with different styles, and they collaborate more willingly and effectively. They have open, honest conversations that are deeper than the usual progress reviews and often come up with innovative ideas that can have a major impact on their teams and organizations. People being coached are encouraged to seek out and listen to advice from others rather than getting defensive. As part of the coaching process, they also commit to making specific improvements in their behavior and attitude. They are better able to balance ego, results, and relationships in their work so that they make things happen while nurturing their relationships with colleagues. Would that type of process make a difference in your organization?

While a culture of coaching might seem touchy-feely, it isn’t. Effective coaching includes metrics to track, measure, and achieve results. It also includes conversations to hold people accountable, get underneath the issues, and get things back on track.

Coaching works well in all sectors, including organizations with highly specialized, technical, scientific, or clinical professionals, because it helps people develop the softer skills that they might not have learned during their years of education. They can then take ideas and use influence to get buy-in and execute more quickly and effectively. From biotech firms to Wall Street financial companies, law firms, and emerging technology companies, coaching can broaden the skills and tools that employees need to get results.

It also makes sense that employees in organizations that support coaching are more motivated and loyal because they recognize that leadership is willing to invest in their development beyond the usual, generic, off-the-shelf training programs. High-potential talent quickly gets bored by the generic leadership training programs on the market, which is why it is estimated that billions of dollars are wasted every year on leadership training that doesn’t even make a dent on performance. In contrast, organizations that encourage leaders and managers to coach and be coached are able to create personalized approaches to developing talent.

The substance of coaching is quite powerful, too, and helps people work better on teams, lead more effectively, and communicate with more impact. The content you will read in this book offers approaches to help people get better in these areas.

Where would you rather work: in an organization that bakes coaching into its very fabric or in an organization with a traditional command-and-control approach to getting things done? Where do you think the freshest talent coming out of the best schools wants to work? In this respect, organizations with a culture of coaching are also better because they are more likely to attract top talent.

Imagine a company in which every single leader and manager knows how to coach their team members to improved performance. Imagine that each leader and manager sits down with each team member and develops a personalized coaching plan to develop that team member and then follows through with that plan. Furthermore, imagine that as people receive coaching they are more receptive to listen to advice, to examine how well they relate to others, and to commit to making improvements. They have open conversations about their progress and keep working to get even better. What would be possible in an organization in which every employee is committed to this process?

It doesn’t have to take much time to make this happen. Coaching can happen during normal one-on-one update meetings; it can happen in short bursts while doing rounds in the workplace; it can happen as part of implementing key strategic initiatives, and it can happen during both formal and informal performance reviews. If leadership is committed, they can create a culture of coaching.

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