Coaching is about unlocking a person's potential. It helps to maximise their own performance. The emphasis is on helping them to learn and develop rather than instructing.
Coaching is something we all look to all of our leaders and peers to provide. It is one of the most valuable tools for developing your people and a successful business environment where teams thrive.
The Institute of Coaching reports that over 70% of individuals who receive coaching benefit from improved work performance, working relationships and develop more effective communication skills, both with colleagues and customers.
As leaders, we want to help maximise our peoples' performance. Coaching is about unlocking a person's potential. With the right approach to coaching, 86% of companies report getting a return on their investment.
So what is the right approach to coaching?
Think about your teams. How are you approaching their motivation?
Many companies focus on extrinsic motivators, like bonuses or rewards for performance. These are partial motivators of people, but they fail to recognise the deeper reasons that motivate them. As Dan Pink’s ‘Drive - The Surprising Truth About Motivation’ shows us; there is a difference when we allow people to tap into their intrinsic motivators.
Mastery - people want to keep improving, to continue to work at things that are important to them.
Autonomy - people achieve more when they feel self-determined with control over their task, time and the way they choose to work.
Purpose - people are motivated when they understand that their actions produce a meaningful output that is larger than themselves.
By tapping into these intrinsic motivators, coaching has a much larger role in driving behaviour of individuals, helping to create a better output for both individual and organisation.
How do we, as leaders, relate to these ideas?
Usually, we see leaders fix a time to discuss goals and talk about what their people would like to achieve in the next year or next month in a scheduled one-to-one.
This very act of fixing time can be stifling to the autonomy of your people. You are creating a controlled environment, and this is the very opposite of autonomy. It is more than likely when you go prepared for these meetings that you are driving an agenda that focuses on a specific development plan for your employee. But this misses a large aspect of how coaching benefits an individual.
If you think about it, this approach makes perfect sense. Why have we given leadership positions to certain people?
They are typically the right people to see the bigger picture. Every day they need to direct their energies and teams to act on choices that have long-term consequences. Your leaders are always creating new strategies and planning for the future.
But when we think only of the future, we lose the most crucial time; now.
Coaching in the now
The concept of working in the now is crucial for businesses to see the most significant rewards from coaching their employees.
Any conversation we have can be the perfect opportunity to coach.
When you think of coaching, you can look at it as a series of 'nows'. When you start to think of the next step, your bias comes into play. You, as a strategic leader, already have a vision of what should happen. But merely saying these or directing actions takes away from an individual's mastery and autonomy. They are also likely to feel they do not matter, questioning the purpose that their thoughts and work have in the organisation.
The coaches that can get the best from employees are the ones that have themselves learned how to have a coaching conversation. They can subjugate their own opinions and realise that to coach is to serve.
If you want to unlock a person's true potential to maximise their performance, you have to be able to and be prepared to help them to grow rather than to teach them or tell them directly.
Great leaders take the time to train themselves to listen beyond a conversation. They arm themselves with the right questions to uncover and help an employee find their own autonomous, meaningful purpose.
As a leader, you should be curious. You take the time at every opportunity to gain an insight into your peoples' way of thinking, and through this, you can begin to coach them towards the best outcomes.
According to a PWC report, coaching typically produces a return on investment of over 500%, not including the other tangible benefits such as employee retention.
We've spent so much time learning how to present and engage in an online world that we need to think about how our skills have transformed. Are the human abilities we haven't used in a while still able and ready to influence people?
Finding the balance between what is suitable for your people and what business as usual might look like isn’t an easy task.