With the business environment becoming increasingly more complex, executive and organisational coaching have both become significantly more popular over the past twenty years. Once reserved for C-Suite Execs and corporate superstars who were ‘hard to handle’, or wheeled-out as a mechanism for remedying behavioural / personality problems at management level, today it is seen as a credible and effective means for ensuring top performance from a company’s most critical talent. More and more companies are waking up to the positive and far-reaching benefits coaching can have, not just on leadership performance, but across the whole organisation. This includes improved engagement between colleagues, departments and the company as a whole; increased productivity and collaboration; better financial results with lower costs and higher profits; greater staff retention, satisfaction and discretionary output; and a more innovative, agile and engaged workforce that attracts the best talent available.
What is Organisational Coaching?
The Institute of Coaching defines Organisational Coaching as an apparatus for ‘fostering positive, systemic transformation within organisations… frequently used to help achieve strategic objectives, enhance leadership capability, and create culture change’. In short, it is a framework that uses coaching methodologies at organisational level to leverage the resources that an organisation already has to resolve its problems and achieve objectives.
Ten years ago, most companies contracted with coaches to help fix toxic behaviour at the top that was trickling down and negatively impacting the main structure of the organisation’s hierarchy. Today, there has been a sizeable shift towards the more positive side of coaching, with less calls about correcting derailing behaviour and a greater move towards developing the capabilities of top performers, preparing individuals for lateral and horizontal transitions, overcoming obstacles, achieving goals, providing a sounding board on organisational dynamics and strategic matters, and providing a psychologically safe environment to share and to work things through within.
Whilst in the past there was an often-perceived stigma attached to coaching, today it has taken on a different level of status and is often worn as a badge of honour – indicating that the organisation believes the receiver is worth the investment. With professionals more willing to openly admit when they need help, especially in terms of understanding themselves and others around them, many leaders acknowledge the positive impact coaching has had on them, their value system, the way they relate to others and how they approach their career.
Looking at current market trends, it is a safe assumption to suggest that the popularity of organisational coaching will only continue to gain traction into the future, especially as we move into a post-pandemic world and the many changes this will hold for all of us. As roles, companies and industries at large continue to evolve and morph, businesses will increasingly turn to coaches for help in understanding how to respond, when to act, and which is the right course of action to move forward with.
How coaching can make a marked difference on an organisation
It is estimated that over 40% of Fortune 500 companies use some form of coaching within their organisation today. The Institute of Coaching cites that over 70% of individuals who have received coaching have benefitted from work performance, improved relationships, and more effective communication, whilst 86% of companies who have employed coaching services believe they have more than recouped their initial investment through increased productivity, heightened employee satisfaction and increased staff retention. This blog explores 4 specific areas that coaching has had a proven and significant impact upon within the corporate realm.
- Unlocking potential and polishing talent
Organisations often promote their superstar performers into management and leadership positions, without providing adequate support or training to handle the demands of their new role, or the guidance needed to understand the position they now assume within the organisation. Coaching can be used to successfully help navigate the challenges new leaders face as they settle into their changing role and assist in adjusting to the new demands on their time, energy and skills. By being clear on what specifically is being asked of them in this position, recognising the resources available, and being confident in the desired outcomes other stakeholders have, promoted managers are better able to settle into their new position, deliver upon expectations and maintain a high level of engagement and job satisfaction. Through effective goal setting, scenario exploration, retrospective analysis and positive reinforcement and encouragement, a coach can help to facilitate a smooth and seamless adjustment that benefits the individual, the team, and the organisation as a whole.For those already established in their roles, coaching can improve self-motivation and drive though creating accountability on goals and performance. By establishing lofty targets and then working diligently to achieve these, coachees can celebrate their small successes, receiving a natural ego-boost as progress is made. By setting a clear outcome, building momentum and marking progress, coachees are more likely to sustain commitment and push through when things get difficult or monotonous. All of which is critical in a leadership position.
- Encouraging behavioural change and shaping culture
Coaching has a significant role to play in supporting the management of different personalities and contexts, especially when it comes to emotionally intelligent leadership. Top-down autocratic style management is becoming increasingly less present in the contemporary workplace and knowing how to adroitly balance the company’s objectives and workplace parameters against how individuals like to be managed is critical for getting the best performance outcome. A coach can assume the role of a sounding-board and can help explore ways to get the best out of individuals and teams. Drawing upon professional experience, business skills, and evidence of what has worked elsewhere, a coach can help leaders at all levels to better understand the multitude of options open to them in any given situation. Coaches can also help drive behavioural and culture change by inculcating a climate of curiosity, empathy, creativity and problem-solving that subsequently permeates throughout the team. Effectively encouraging these traits in one manager will have a ripple effect, influencing others who benefit from being exposed to such positive qualities.
- Crafting an empowered workforce
At the heart of a successful coaching relationship lies a deep sense of shared trust and mutual respect. Through regular coaching, employees naturally grow more assured in their capability and credibility and start to better appreciate the reasons why they have been elevated to their current position… and the widespread positive impact they can have. Individuals are encouraged to constantly self-coach and to correct limiting beliefs or negative narratives that might be stymying performance, decision making or taking critical action. As they grow in confidence and security in their position and the choices they make, they start to test the boundaries of their self-perceived potential, and become better able and more prepared to manage any and all challenges that come their way.In addition, by having a secure, reflective space in which to analyse experience, question approaches, form logical conclusions and consider future responses, the participant develops a sense of psychological safety and become a willing and active part of the coaching process. They start to identify what drives and inhibits their performance and can then proactively establish their own self-initiated behaviours, cognitive patterns and reinforcing habits that will remain long after the coach has left their service. This sense of trust – in themselves, the coach, and the wider organisation empowers the coachee to take more risks, try new things and to seek out opportunities for development.The result is an empowered, solutions-orientated ‘strategic thinking partner’ that starts to use similar coaching practices on those around them – improving group communication, team cohesiveness and interpersonal relationships.
- Self-awareness and relationships
Introspection, self-analysis, critical review, green-light thinking and exploring multiple options are all elements that make up the coaching process. By engaging in these activities regularly, coaches cultivate a greater degree of self-awareness, emotional maturity, social intelligence and empathic leadership skills that can have a profound impact on the workplace – not least on reducing stress and creating a more supportive and productive environment in which to work. Coaching encourages individuals to examine their relationships – with those around them, with themselves and with abstract concepts such as success, failure, power, conflict and work-life balance. Through deft coaching, a participant can explore deep-seated and subconscious beliefs that are attached to these notions and can then start to challenge and change them.
Coaching has been proven to offer benefits to the coachee, the surrounding team members and the organisation as a whole. By developing the essential skills needed for modern management, those who receive coaching are more equipped for managing personnel, inspiring teams, motivating others and directing action. With clearer goals and noticeable progress being made by the individual, discretionary effort, job satisfaction and company loyalty all begin to trend upwards. This positive impact cascades down throughout the organisation, impacting the coachee’s relationships and interactions with other stakeholders, creating a more harmonious and psychological safe environment in which to work every day. Lastly, financial gains from higher staff retention, lower wastage, greater productivity, improved innovation and collaboration, and enhanced team engagement all contribute to increased bottom-line results for the wider company. Organisational coaching should therefore be seen as having a critical role to play in the cotemporary workplace – creating a win-win relationship for all those impacted by it.
You can learn more about Dale Carnegie’s coaching capabilities and how we support organisations in this area by clicking here.
Pete Burbidge is the General Manager of Dale Carnegie London. As well as being responsible for co-ordinating all their marketing activities, he is also a digital producer for online events and a team leader on the Dale Carnegie Course.