Coaching: wonder tool or contentious issue? The results of coaching are often impressive. So how can L&D leaders ensure that the benefits felt at the top of the food chain trickle down through the rest of the business? Keeping the board onside and the budget in place is key, and if there’s growing frustration that results aren’t significant enough throughout the organisation, it’s time for a change.
Heads of Department and C-Suite executives can all benefit from coaching. Though it needn’t be the domain of the elite alone. Lateral thinking and a different approach can open the benefits of coaching far beyond the confines of the boardroom.
A different approach: coaching surgeries
Coaching surgeries bear all the hallmarks of a typical coaching encounter: a confidential space, action-focused dialogue, and a goal-orientated outlook. The practicalities differ, however. A coach will base themselves at a client’s office for a set amount of time, say a day or two days, and individuals drop in for hour-long coaching sessions.
For the organisation, there are several benefits. The ratio of coach to coachees represents good value. The coach charges for a day’s work and can see numerous people facing challenges or struggles. The sessions are typically an hour long, so disruption is minimal and coachees can get straight to what they’d like to discuss, before heading back to work to implement that.
Coaching surgeries offer flexibility
Coaching surgeries may well be appropriate to offer to your senior team, depending on your ongoing learning and development agenda. In our experience, coaching surgeries have the most impact when made available to more junior managers and leaders. The impact of coaching leaders early in their career is often more significant than coaching those who have reached a high level of professional maturity.
The immediate benefits of coaching junior leaders are:
- An opportunity to develop engenders good feeling: By having the same opportunities as senior leaders, the team feels that those at the top are truly leading by example.
- It increases trust in senior leaders: The feeling that ‘if you trust me enough to have this opportunity then I trust that you are invested in my development,’ evolves when development is more democratic.
- It increases engagement: Coaching puts the coachee in the driver’s seat; by facing issues head-on, junior leaders take ownership of their challenges, their triumphs – and the results.
- Coaching increases loyalty to the organisation: Staff feel more engaged with their work, trusting of colleagues and leaders and they are more in line with the organisation’s aims as a result.
And while coaching surgeries are useful as a tool, their application is flexible too. Coaching surgeries could be a standalone exercise. They could be a part of a wider or longer-lasting development programme. Coaching surgeries could be used to support a diverse range of employees, aimed broadly across the business or focusing in one particular area.
The design of coaching surgeries is sleek and their format nimble which means they offer an efficient alternative to a full-scale development programme. This is particularly pertinent when an issue requiring immediate attention crops up or when time or budget is limited.
One match, one thousand trees: why coaching surgeries spark genuine change
There are numerous very good reasons why coaching for junior leaders is a good idea: great value, the ability to quickly resolve issues that just won’t wait and increased engagement. To truly understand why coaching is so effective for junior leaders, we need to look at these factors in greater detail.
As with anything, coaching costs money. And parting with cash for the development of junior staff members is sometimes an unwelcome thought when organisations are faced with many demands on their balance sheet. Coaching surgeries offer a way around this, as multiple people can be seen in one day, which brings the individual coach-coachee cost down.
Those people further down the leadership ladder come into contact with staff on a far more regular basis than do senior leaders. Learning can therefore quickly trickle through the entire business much faster than when an executive receives coaching. The coachee receives the direct benefit of the coaching intervention, and everyone around them benefits indirectly through their interaction with the junior manager.
Adult learning principles tell us that autonomy is important for adults who want to learn. This is perhaps the most significant reason that coaching surgeries are so effective for junior managers and leaders. It’s unlikely that an organisation would dictate the content of eight entirely separate coaching sessions, which means that the coachees can lead the sessions themselves. Ownership means that they are more likely to take on board the learnings, which is then taken back to their specific area of the business. The outcome is that performance in that area improves, and this impacts on the organisation as a whole.
Tangible and intangible results
It’s tempting to focus on key deliverables, KPIs, and the performance of high-profile individuals in an organisation. Yet the bigger picture is as important and coaching surgeries are a great way to address this. The chance for many junior leaders to be seen in a day, versus few senior leaders, helps to bring about change quickly and delivers it widely through the business.
Managers and junior leaders who are trusted to take the reins of their own learning reinforces to the wider staff that the senior leadership team are on board with development in deed as well as in word. The knock-on impact is that junior leaders buy in not just to their own success, but that of the organisation. By allowing junior leaders into the coaching arena the senior team isn’t cutting itself short but is, in fact, benefitting the entire organisation. And in the long term, an organisation that is led by engaged, proactive and effective people is much more likely to thrive.
If thriving, proactive people sounds like something that your organisation could use, why not give us a call on 0117 370 1800? We’d be happy to hear about your aims and explain how we can help you get there.