The importance of coaching in achieving higher employee performance
The popularity of coaching increased over recent years due to the features of modern organizations (i.e. flatter organizational structures), where employees have to adapt and quickly develop in terms of skills and responsibilities.
What is coaching?
Coaching is about helping employees to better adapt to a workplace and achieve greater results in a shorter period of time. Help received either from internal coaches (e.g. managers, senior leaders) or external coaches (e.g. consultants).
A model used to structure coaching is the GROW model sketched out by Sir John Whitmore in his book Coaching for performance, which outlines the idea that coaching should be based on goals and actions to be taken in order to achieve the desired outcomes:
- Goals – what you want to achieve?
- Reality – what have you done so far and what has been the result?
- Options – what alternatives are available?
- Way forward – what are you going to do?
What is the goal of coaching?
The aim of coaching is to help employees, especially new employees, to boost their potential, develop their skills and achieve higher performance.
Another important goal is to increase awareness in the coachee and make him or her recognize the best course of action to be taken so as to solve any issue. This means that the coach shouldn’t give direct advice or to offer solutions, but instead to ask different questions to draw out the thoughts of the employees.
What are the benefits of coaching?
Effective coaching can have a positive impact at both individual and organizational level – a survey conducted by CIPD in 2004 outlined this idea, as 99 percent of the 500 respondents agreed that coaching can produce tangible benefits at both levels.
For employees, effective coaching leads to an increased satisfaction level, commitment and desire to overpass their capabilities, improved decision making, increased confidence in doing their jobs and greater sense of responsibility. Moreover, they will also experience an improved ability to work independently.
Employers will achieve cost reductions and higher profits, improved customer service and this is a way to show that the company is socially responsible towards its employees – which can be reflected in employees’ retention levels.
What are the barriers to effective coaching?
There are many barriers that can interfere in an effective coaching relationship. Some of the most well-known barriers identified in the literature are as follows:
- The mismatch between coach and employees;
- The questionable expertise of coaches;
- Finding the right coach with the right abilities, such as the ability to be non-judgmental, to listen, to show empathy, the ability to build trust and make the coachee feel comfortable in the coach’s presence;
- Considering some coaching questions intimidating which could face the coach with resistance from their employees;
- Employees’ negative attitude towards coaching, arising due to the lack of understanding the benefits of following a coaching program;
- The lack of standards in the coaching area can also slow down the development of solid coaching programs;
- The absence of management’s support for coaching.
How to overcome these barriers?
In order to address the above mentioned barriers, companies should consider establishing and implementing a strategy in this direction that includes a tool destined to assess the coaching program. Communication, as always, is also very important to make employees understand the benefits of such programs and the way this facilitates their integration in the company, as well as their performance.
When it comes to finding the right coach, managers can interview and then make the most appropriate selection from a pool of prescreened coaches. Likewise, it is important to use coaching to help the right employees, for instance: high potential employees, problem employees or expatriates.
Coaching should be an integrated part of a larger development process and not a stand-alone activity, unrelated to other Talent and Development programs.
Therefore, when designing and implementing a coaching program, there are a lot of aspects that have to be taken into account if we want to achieve the desired results. Success is strongly dependent on the quality and professionalism of coaches and their ability to develop employees’ skills and professional attitude.
- Fielden, S. (n.d.), Literature review: Coaching effectiveness – A summary, NHS Modernisation Agency Leadership Center
- Barnett, M. (2009), Coaching in the workplace, Practical Guide to Coaching in the Workplace
- AMA (2008), Coaching: A global study of successful practices
- Jarvis, J. (n.d.), Coaching and buying coaching services, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development