Updated: Sep 12
Coaching isn't just reserved for athletes and personal development enthusiasts. It's a proven leadership style that can revolutionize your approach to team management, and achieve higher levels of performance.
Time Etc’s CEO Barnaby Lashbrooke published an article in Fortune, in which he trialed replacing all management staff with coaches, with a ratio of 1 coach “manager” to every six staff. He discovered that when he asked his hires what they needed in terms of managerial support, the answers were overwhelmingly and unanimously descriptive of a coaching approach.
So, Lashbrooke listened to his employees and replaced managers with coaches.This groundbreaking move resulted in higher engagement and productivity, less sick absence, and a significant reduction in employee turnover—and what made this even more striking was that these positive results all occurred during the Great Resignation.
As can be duly concluded from above, coaching in leadership and management affords numerous benefits such as:
Develops high-potential employees
Fosters positive and collaborative team culture
Empowers employees to own their individual and collective performance, developing a keener sense of self-awareness
Sparks innovation and creativity
Enables the business as a whole to achieve its goals and objectives
Aids employees in achieving their personal career goals
Improves retention rates
So how exactly can senior leaders incorporate coaching into their organizational culture?
Advocate a learning culture
One of the considerations that Lashbrooke pointed out in his Fortune piece was that as a company, they made the decision to invest in learning and development, including granting their employees access to Udemy courses of their choice.
Embracing a culture of continuous improvement and investing in employee development is the key to fostering a growth mindset. It exceeds mandatory learning in the induction phase or the annual compliance training.
Research consistently shows that employees who actively participate in the learning process not only retain information better, but also find it more enjoyable. It enhances their ownership and enthusiasm for growth. By encouraging team members to contribute to the delivery of learning initiatives, organizations can create a culture of continued growth and development.
For example, in one of my roles as a manager, I introduced Training Tuesdays. The idea behind this was that in our daily team meeting, the Tuesday morning meeting would be replaced by a 10-minute presentation which would be designed and delivered by a team member. Each would take turns to share best practice, concepts they had learned in their own CPD time, or new industry and market insights. They were at liberty to use PowerPoint, a group activity, or anything else that would make the session interesting.
My only stipulation was that they had to remain within the 10-minute slot allotted, and at the end there must be a takeaway for everyone in the team to implement. Sometimes they would go the extra mile and prepare post-session handouts.
This stimulated team engagement, and we always had fresh ideas that resulted in us being the highest performing team within our region for six consecutive months, achieving 140% of our KPIs.
Prioritize career development
In your 1:1 performance reviews and appraisals, don’t wait for the employee to underperform before you decide to put them on a PIP. Why wait until an employee's performance dips in order to take action? As a leader it's crucial to use regular performance reviews as opportunities to empower and support your team.
Ongoing improvement plans can transform an employee's performance, elevating their skills, capabilities, and career trajectory. It should be part of an employee's commitment to their own professional development.
I always start a review by asking the employee what their career goals are, and how I can best support them to achieve that goal as their manager. We would then collaborate in writing a plan that would incorporate organizational resources as well as areas within their work that will directly impact their career success. I was intentional to tie in the impact of their individual performance targets in their day-to-day work, with their career goals. I also worked with the employee to set SMART goals and encouraged them to do what was best for their career growth, even if that necessitated them transitioning from my team to another team or employer.
As a direct result of them feeling that their career was supported by me, they were much more inclined to stay longer working under me even when presented with another offer from a competitor with higher pay!
Use the GROW model of coaching
In coaching, there are various acronyms and models that we use when developing leaders or managers, but one of the most familiar is the GROW model:
G=Goals, R=Reality, O=Options, and W=Way Forward.
When conducting performance reviews with my team members, I would use this model to structure our conversations, and as a result, I witnessed their performance drastically change from the lowest tier “Inadequate” to “Very Good” within weeks.
I always kicked off the conversation by asking my employee what they wanted to get out of the meeting, and out of their job as a whole.
I then followed with a reality check—I became curious and asked non-judgemental questions to arouse self-awareness (an essential trait of a coaching leader) and asked questions such as, “What is working well right now? Where are you in relation to your KPIs for this month?”
I followed with asking them “What could you be doing differently? What are your options? How will you obtain the extra training? What support do you need from me as your manager?”
Wrapping up with finalizing next steps, I asked my employee, “Which of those options works best for you? What will you do today? What needs to be done now?”
Consider incorporating these coaching practices into your management and leadership style, and into your organization’s management culture, then watch how your employees thrive, take ownership for their work, self-generate ideas, become more self-aware, and think critically and creatively to resolve business issues as a result.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you’d also love my weekly newsletter I release every Wednesday for new and aspiring managers.
As a corporate coach, I have had the privilege of mentoring and coaching numerous managers throughout her career. From recruitment to tech, non-profits to education, and even hospitality. I have seen first-hand the transformative power of effective leadership. Seven of Rachel's own employees were promoted and progressed to other roles internally as a result of my coaching leadership approach.
Imagine the incredible possibilities that await your organization when you fully leverage your existing talent. If you're ready to witness transformational results and take your business to new heights, let's join forces.
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