Business coaching is the 360-degree process of assessing and providing feedback as it pertains to technical and functional performance. This includes providing and receiving feedback to and from all employees across the entire organizational chart— essentially up (management), down (reports) and laterally (peers). When done constructively, this practice has the potential to transform individuals across all lines of the business to create a strong coaching culture.
I am thankful to say that I have experienced this type of performance coaching throughout my entire professional career. While it may take time for the process to become ingrained in each and every associate, the benefits of coaching at work are well worth the effort. Here are some tips that will help ensure your company gets the most out of implementing a strong business coaching culture:
The first step to creating and rolling out any type of process is to understand the "why." Why are we doing this? Why is it important? Creating a coaching culture has many benefits and communicating those benefits will help fuel momentum by providing a purpose. We do not institute coaching to point out flaws or micromanage; rather, we institute a coaching model to bring out the absolute best, increase productivity and performance and collaborate with a vested interest in each and every associate’s success. Assemble a task force to dig deep and uncover how this coaching model will directly impact your company. Provide examples, both tangible and intangible.
Of course your environment is physically safe — what I am referring to is creating a coaching environment free of retribution. It can be intimidating for employees to coach up to managers and leaders. Yet, this kind of feedback can be paramount in leadership learning and development. Consequently, it's crucial for clear guidelines to be put into place that prevents any kind of retaliation.
A great way to create an environment that feels safe and free from retribution is to first gain buy-in from management teams. Reinforcement from leadership on the value of the feedback they receive can play a huge role in allowing employeees to feel comfortable "coaching up." Additionally, demonstrating how this kind of feedback has solicited change (for the better) within the organization through a collaborative approach can be a great case study to further these kinds of coaching practices. Eventually, coaching will feel like a common practice.
This is a crucial component to creating an effective coaching culture. Not every employee is going to know the proper way to provide feedback. Ignoring that fact will undoubtedly open a proverbial can of worms. While it seems like a fairly basic skill, there are certain psychological aspects to consider, including an understanding of both helpful and detrimental verbiage. It is absolutely necessary that your coaching experts partners with learning and development teams collaboratively developing a strategy that teaches all associates proper coaching methods that are specifically tailored to your business and company culture. This should include educating employees on the importance of coming to the table with a solution. This adds value to the coaching session by showing a vested interest in improvement and eliminates finger pointing.
It is important for the coachee to know that their efforts are not in vain and that they are positively contributing to the process. This can come in the form of something as official as following up on a previous coaching session during a future one-on-one session and discussing how the coaching was implemented. Or it can be as simple as sending a follow-up email, reiterating the feedback provided and thanking the individual for taking a vested interest in their future success, as well as the success of the company. This also helps encourage associates to keep providing feedback.
This is an important piece to ensure the sustainability of a coaching culture that spans across all employees and levels. Frequently taking the pulse of the process is the best way to determine what is working and what needs to change. Doing so anonymously reduces limitations and increases accuracy because it allows all employees to freely provide feedback without concern of repercussions. These results need to be raw and factual without any form of influence. In addition, the survey data should be analyzed and feedback should be provided to all associates in a timely manner to ensure future participation. This includes outlining a plan to remedy areas in need of improvement.
Complete adoption and participation is not going to happen overnight. After all, it requires change and trust building, which takes time. With that being said, the results are well worth the time and effort needed to effectively improve or institute a companywide business coaching program. Increased productivity and performance, building strong leaders, retention and a strong growth-based culture are just a few of the benefits. Embrace a cross-company coaching philosophy because each and every employee deserves the opportunity to feel empowered to lead.
Jaime Jones is a sourcing specialist at WilsonHCG. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern New Hampshire University and is currently finishing her master’s in community and economic development. With a strong connection to the Navy, she has had the opportunity to experience life in many parts of the country, but Maine is where she calls home, with her energetic five-year-old daughter. She enjoys and is intrigued by the process of writing, setting out with a specific plan in mind and watching that plan change and develop into something completely unexpected and wonderful.