What is coaching?

  • Coaching is about long term behavioural change. It takes place over a longer time-scale than other forms of development. The process of regularly meeting with a coach reinforces the learning and holds the coachee accountable for making changes.
  • The starting point is, everyone can improve.
  • Change Partnership (“CP”) coaching is about working with high performers to help them achieve even greater levels of performance.
  • Coaching takes place in real time with issues that are current and “live” for the client. Learning can be implemented immediately. The focus is on “what you can do now that will make a difference”.

Areas typically addressed in senior executive coaching

  • How the leader spends their time. How can they make the most effective contribution to their organisation? How can they add value?
  • Leadership style. Is the leader creating the kind of environment in which their team can give of their best? Can the leader gain the commitment of their team, not just their compliance?
  • Delegation. Many senior executives are poor delegators; even if they choose to delegate work, they often do not achieve the outcome they hoped for. Good delegation frees up senior management time, but also allows for the development and growth of the delegatee while holding them accountable for results.
  • The job of a senior executive is a lonely one. An external coach can act as a sounding board and confidante, but also challenger. Such a coach is also someone with whom personal doubts can be shared and actively addressed.

Business benefits of coaching

Coaching enables:

  • Leaders to lead by example as well as by what they say
  • Personal motivation and commitment at the top of the organisation, which permeates down the hierarchy
  • The achievements of business objectives which are translated into and pursued as personal agendas by top team members
  • Visible performance improvement at top team level
  • Greater teamwork which leads to speedier decision-making
  • Cultural shifts to take place within the organisation
  • Remember, in order to achieve change at an organisational level, you have to start with the individual. The first step in making behavioural change is increased self-awareness. Coaching invariably raises an individual’s level of self-awareness

Why else might coaching be needed?

  • Behavioural changes are required in response to the marketplace
  • Generic corporate development programmes don’t meet individual needs well enough
  • Being coached helps one understand how to coach others
  • Top people are usually the last to have their development needs met
  • Time is at a premium. Harvard/INSEAD, etc are too long although they help with valuable hard business management and financial skills. For personal coaching, focused, dedicated sessions of around 1½ hours duration are ideal.

The cost

  • Coaching fees are about 30% of what it would cost to replace a person through a head-hunter
  • What are the costs (including opportunity costs) of the individual not succeeding? They include lost revenues, extra management time dealing with under-performance, impact on the team, poor morale (who can quantify the damage to the business of all this?) Compare that to the benefits of making sure that the individual truly performs to his/her full potential – or even close to it.

Evaluating the benefits of coaching

Not all the benefits of coaching will be directly observable, or measurable. In human development, changes can be gradual and subtle and often precede visible manifestations of change. Lack of obvious signs does not mean change is not occurring. Progress could be considered in the following ways:

More tangible (and in some cases, measurable)

  • Achievement of (or significant progress towards) certain business objectives
  • A net improvement in productivity in the client’s realm of influence
  • Higher employee satisfaction and/or customer satisfaction ratings
  • Meetings become more productive in less time
  • Rising morale, harmony and job satisfaction within the client’s team
  • Less destructive conflict and/or suppressed hostility within/around the client
  • More constructive, open discussion when the client is involved
  • Noticeably higher levels of energy, enthusiasm and confidence expressed by the client
  • Communication and influencing skills are improving
  • The client is gaining more respect, more widely within the organisation

Possibly less apparent or invisible to others in the organisation (particularly in the short-term)

  • Reversal of the deterioration of an important, personal relationship (e.g. marriage)
  • The enhancement of personal relationships (e.g. spouse, children, close friends)
  • Improving health and fitness
  • Maintaining motivation to stay (for the right reasons) rather than choosing to leave
  • Greater feelings of personal job satisfaction
  • A growing understanding of values, needs, motivations (own and others’)
  • Underlying self-esteem and self-confidence is improving
  • Accelerating an inevitable and beneficial departure from a particular role
  • More effective decision-making because of having coach as independent sounding board