Coaching is traditionally made accessible for select, top executives in an organisation. But the aims of coaching – facilitating learning, providing opportunities for growth and ensuring continuous development – are opportunities employees at all levels could benefit from.
Coaching not only improves performance and maximises employee potential, but also supporting employees in their own personal development results in a more, engaged workforce. Building a coaching culture in your organisation means a more resilient business, as more people are equipped with the skills to support the development of others. Companies like GSK are seeing the benefits of democratising coaching. The establishment of their Coaching Centre of Excellence, which makes coaching available to their employees around the globe, resulted in a return on investment of $66 million.
To embed coaching into teams and build a coaching culture, it is up to managers to step into this role. A far-cry from micromanagement, coaching involves empowering team members to solve their own problems, helping people to learn on the job. Managers who favour prescriptive methods will need to do a 180º if they are to effectively develop their team’s skills, knowledge and leadership strengths. Coaching utilises feedback as a learning tool, and if employees are simply ‘following orders’, this pillar of the approach ceases to be relevant.
Curious leadership, an approach by which leaders respond to emerging opportunities by asking questions rather than making snap judgments, can help managers make this transition. Without a curious leader, teams will never strive for new innovative solutions to problems. Curiosity translates to forward-thinking and coaching relies on asking the right questions of your team. This progressive, proactive attitude is necessary if a leader is going to inspire and enable others. Another important concept for the beginner coach is psychological safety. It is counter-intuitive for most of us to share our weaknesses with our boss. However, coaching involves having candid discussions about performance and improvement. Creating an environment in which your team feel comfortable sharing vulnerabilities and mistakes is imperative for professional development and growth.
For those interested in learning more on this topic, I have included some good reads below on building coaching cultures, and introducing management practices which aim to build more resilient organisations.
- From the Post*Shift archives: How to build psychological safety in your organisation.
- Lessons from the startup world: How Shopify scaled coaching beyond its executives.
- Coaching up: Feedback needs to go both ways, but how should you give it to your boss?
- Three essential tips on coaching remote teams, from Buffer.
- Your coaching is only as good as your follow-up skills, via HBR.