Leaders Coaching Fuel50

Leaders Make the Best Coaches – And Investing in Coaching Technology Can Make Them Better Still

Most of the time, the simplest answer is usually the best answer.

That’s true about lots of a great many things in life — and especially if you’re talking about coaching employees.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates put it like this:

“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast, or a bridge player. We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

That’s a statement that most can agree with. But coaching isn’t easy and lots of organizations have struggled with it for a long time.

The world of workplace coaching is changing dramatically, as so many talent management practices are these days. The Harvard Business Review recently dug into just how much workplace coaching has changed, particularly the modern collaborative model, and how coaching has become one of the critical duties that all leaders need to be focused on today.

They said:

“Twenty-first-century managers simply don’t (and can’t!) have all the right answers. To cope with this new reality, companies are moving away from traditional command-and-control practices and toward something very different: a model in which managers give support and guidance rather than instructions, and employees learn how to adapt to constantly changing environments in ways that unleash fresh energy, innovation, and commitment. The role of the manager, in short, is becoming that of a coach …”

Fuel50’s Global Talent Mobility Best Practice Research recently found that those organizations with leaders who role model and provide developmental support for their people are more likely to achieve better business performance. However, only 1 in 4 said they are currently providing their leaders with training aimed at developing skills to support career development.

Why it’s important to get more leaders involved

Gallup, a company known for great research, understands this better than most and their recent article about coaching also described the challenges facing so many companies today:

“The world has changed. Today’s employees want a manager who is invested in their personal and professional development. They want frequent feedback — and opportunities to do more of what they do best. They want to consistently grow as they pursue a compelling purpose.

In this new world, the best path to an exceptional employee experience — not to mention, high performance — is for employees to have a coach, not a boss.”

Now, Gallup is NOT saying that a boss can’t be a coach, because sometimes, the boss is the very best choice of a coach. They know the employee and the areas to focus on that would both help the worker improve as well as benefit the needs of the organization. However, not just any coach can succeed in both of those goals.

What the Gallup research was pointing to, was the kind of coaching that is ongoing and “that all managers should engage in with all their people all the time, in ways that help define the organization’s culture and advance its mission.”

Managers and leaders are in the best position to coach in ways that speak to the culture and larger organizational mission, perhaps in ways that non-leader coaches cannot. So, what’s the difference?

As Gallup notes, “An effective manager-as-coach asks questions instead of providing answers, supports employees instead of judging them, and facilitates their development instead of dictating what has to be done.”

It’s that last part — coaching without dictating — that is the hardest thing for managers and leaders to stay away from, but the better they are at doing that, the more effective their coaching will be.

The point is to have an authentic, ongoing dialogue with the employee that helps identify their top concerns and shows support to help them improve in those areas.

3 behaviors that define good coaching

So, what are the keys to good coaching? The research found that it hinges on the following behaviors:

  • Being more curious Gallup says: “One of the keys to coaching is “asking more and telling less — becoming more inquisitive about employees as human beings. … The best coaches display a genuine interest in the individual by asking coach-like questions on a regular basis. … Then, the best coaches listen to understand. They listen to truly comprehend employees’ circumstances, goals, challenges, and needs.”
  • Showing support through natural discussion and conversationsGallup says: “Coaches are curious for a reason: They use discoveries about employees’ motivations, concerns, and aspirations to demonstrate care and dismantle barriers to performance and engagement. Making these discoveries doesn’t require sophisticated coaching models or a prefabricated agenda of questions. Rather, meaningful coaching conversations are often informal and flow naturally depending on the employee’s needs. … The point is to have an authentic, ongoing dialogue with the individual to identify their top concerns and show support accordingly.”
  • Focusing on performance, strengths, and engagementGallup says: “Coaches set clear expectations and performance goals and hold employees accountable for those targets. Coaches are future-focused when it comes to performance — whereas bosses typically look for errors and punish performance mistakes. … Great coaches also focus on each worker’s one-of-a-kind strengths … (and) prioritize individual and team engagement — knowing that their role is to create an environment that energizes and inspires employees. To this end, great coaches track their employees’ workplace needs and respond with action and accountability.”

Coaching can be simple when you do it right — and doing it right, in today’s rapidly changing world, means encouraging leaders to focus on coaching their employees on a more regular and ongoing basis.

It’s yet another way to retain your best people AND build your organizational culture by enhancing the employee experience.

Leaders Coaching Fuel50


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