Where can coaching make a difference? Typical situations in which coaching can make a difference are:
The first 100 days in a new role
We know that something like 40% of all new hires fail within a year. The cost to the organisation is enormous – perhaps three times the salary of the failed employee. A coach who can support, challenge and guide a client to anticipate and avoid the common pitfalls significantly increases the chances of a smooth and successful transition.
The days when an entirely directive style was accepted by staff are well and truly over, but if it’s not about telling people what to do, what does work? How far is it possible to improve on your natural style?
Most promotions are not, contrary to what many people believe, just about doing the same skills but on a bigger scale. Invariably, the nearer the top of an organisation you get, the more important it is to be able to influence peers. John Kotter, respected US guru on leadership, defined it as ‘becoming increasingly dependent on people over whom you have no control’. OK – but how?
Understanding your personal impact
Honest feedback skilfully given is rare indeed in most organisations. So it is common for people to reach positions of seniority and to have little real idea of their impact on colleagues. Research has shown that the more closely your self-awareness is linked to how others actually see you, the higher the performance of the unit or organisation you manage. Candid feedback from the coach is an important part of this but so are methods of obtaining feedback from colleagues. This can include 360 feedback, observation and shadowing.
If only every team contained nothing but outstanding performers… This only happens in business books, not in real life. In real life there are often poor or mediocre performers. What can you do? How far can the performance of such people be improved?
This is a sadly neglected area of management. But every leader has a boss and that boss needs skilful management every bit as much as managing juniors.
We all know the theory about being clear, listening carefully, writing at exactly the correct length and without jargon, making your assumptions transparent… So how come the practice is so tricky? Many managers are better at talking than listening, or better one to one than they are with a group. Sometimes, people have missed out in earlier career on basics like how to run an effective meeting – we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been told about management meetings that last for 8 or 9 hours every week. These are the same organisations where senior staff eventually fall over with that catch-all ‘stress’. Yes, these two things are connected.
Which takes us to…
Managing time and stress
Achieving a balance between work and private life is constantly demanding. It may seem ridiculous to claim that some of the most effective leaders we know are the ones who do an eight hour day and no more – with no weekend work. Their secrets are ruthless prioritising and highly effective delegation. (We’ve heard all the excuses about delegation by the way). Clients are often sacrificing longer term health and happiness, including the health of their personal relationships, for the sake of short term organisation demands. Mostly this is unnecessary and fairly clearly undesirable. Coaching can make a real difference here, starting with examining exactly how you are spending your time now and looking the time and energy-wasters in the eye.