As rapid change and disruption become the norm, what succeeded in the past can no longer serve as a guide to what will lead to success in the future.
In the recent past, a successful career trajectory started with acquiring and developing expertise in a technical or functional domain. Having the right answers qualified as a barometer of a job well done and would be enough to rise up the ladder.
‘Command and control’ were the mantra to lead.
However, with the business landscape becoming more competitive, complex, and disruptive, managers and leaders cannot have all the right answers at all times. The new reality demands a shift away from the traditional command-and-control practice to one that is nurturing and provides guidance and consequently helps employees adapt to changing environments with vigor, energy, and commitment.
With the pandemic upending the world of work, bringing in further disruption and new work models, organizations have to accelerate their coaching initiatives to keep employees engaged, prevent work-from-home burnout, and manage change capably while remaining productive.
Given that the pandemic has canceled all face-to-face meetings and team off-sites, navigating competing priorities demands organizations to increase their coaching capabilities especially as Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA) become an indelible part of our new reality. If we look closely, the role of leaders and managers is becoming that of a coach.
As volatility and change become our new constants, organizations have to help their workforce (both managers and employees) navigate their challenges and provide them the right support proactively. Coaching becomes a venerable tool to provide the guidance needed to navigate the new normal and battle change. Coaching is also an effective tool to drive competencies since it is a collaborative and continuous process and focuses on providing guidance by helping others experience their situation from a different and, often, a new perspective.
While organizations do realize the importance of coaching, what can they do to create better coaches? The answer lies in coaching itself.
One size does not fit all
Coaching conversations have to be individualized and contextual. For coaching to be effective, it has to be compelling to drive change. To enable this, organizations have to identify where employees, managers, and leaders need coaching.
For employees who have become managers in the pandemic, for example, coaching can be immensely helpful by giving them guidance on how to manage a remote team effectively. By leveraging data-driven assessments, organizations can identify performance gaps – both technical or behavioral, and create contextual coaching plans that give results.
Coach the coaches
Given the rising importance of coaching, many organizations have internal coaching teams. However, with the changing dynamics in the workplace, these coaches need to hone their coaching skills further to capably guide the workforce.
Good coaches drive positive learning experiences. But good coaching demands authenticity, and authenticity comes from knowledge. It is imperative to ensure that coaches keep improving and increasing their coaching repertoire by upgrading their knowledge base, for which they need coaching as well.
Develop your coaching pipeline
Just like how organizations are focused on developing a healthy leadership pipeline, it is equally important to develop a healthy pipeline of coaches as well. This is so because managers leading teams also have to lead engagement, performance, productivity, and engagement of their team members. Managers, hence, are coaches in their own right.
Managers are change agents. Identifying those who can build intentional relationships that drive team confidence and competence can be immensely beneficial for organizations.
Some managers are natural coaches. Despite this, coaching them to become more empathetic, improving problem-solving skills, developing better communication and guidance skills, etc., only helps them become better coaches and ultimately better leaders.
Research shows that among the critical skills that employers look for, coaching is the hardest to recruit.
By identifying managers who have the potential to become good coaches, helping them develop a coaching approach to leadership, and helping them develop or improve the coaching effectiveness enhances the overall coaching effectiveness of the organization.
Create the right coaching conversations
Facts have to replace feelings when it comes to driving better coaching conversations.
When organizations want to develop effective coaches, the feedback has to be rooted in data. Whether it is soft (power skills) or hardcore technical skills, coaching conversations have to be driven by rich analytics.
Leveraging coaching platforms driven by AI and Machine Learning can not only connect the right coach to the right mentee but also provide intelligent, contextual and personalized, and impartial feedback as well as timely notifications and alerts and improve learning interactions. This approach also helps in enhancing coaching effectiveness by providing coaches with the feedback they need to reframe thinking or their guidance pattern to make coaching more effective.
In today’s day of VUCA, coaching has to become a culture within the organization rather than remain as a ‘self-help’ strategy that senior-level executives adopt to improve themselves. When coaching becomes an integral part of professional development at all corporate levels, it becomes an indispensable part of the organizational strategy and business philosophy. Effective leaders, productive and engaged teams, and positive business outcomes then become organic consequences of these efforts.
You can improve employee performance and employee engagement through people connections, internal coaching, and skills development. Contact us to know more.