I’m writing this as I prepare a presentation for a forthcoming LFX event.
Our first event focused on Recruitment, Selection and Development and our second (November 27th) is especially aimed at facility managers and duty managers.
As part of the day I will be addressing the topic of ‘Managers as Coaches’.
During my preparation for the presentation I started to think about the benefits of coaching when compared to what I shall term ‘traditional training’.
Having both received and delivered traditional training during the early and mid-stages of my career I have become accustomed to people arriving at training events and saying "I'm not really sure why I'm here, my boss sent me" or “What’s this course about”?
Hardly a ringing endorsement of a well planned and communicated team development strategy!
So why do I believe that coaching offers a better return on investment?
Firstly let's consider the way in which a lot of training decisions are made.
The main factor often seems to be the cost of training programmes as the cheaper they are, the more people you can send! If they are free or 'funded' then that's even better as it helps us to tick the staff development box. Unfortunately this misses a hugely important point, the return on investment.
When I coach clients we work together and use a variety of tools and exercises to understand how things are and how things could be in the future. We spend quality time together and I provide homework and work-based exercises to help the individual or ‘coachee’ learn about themselves, their behaviours and strengths.
This is active learning rather than the more passive approach that occurs during traditional training sessions or with the recent ‘get qualified quickly’ online courses.
Coaching creates action and I can’t honestly think of a session I’ve done where a client has left with no action to take or work to do to develop their approach to work and life. Coaching is also about discovery. The discovery of natural strengths and talents is almost guaranteed to boost confidence and improve performance.
As a coach I also get to know the challenges that my clients face at work and occasionally at home. These aren’t usually the kind of things that are raised during a training course. By working together to solve problems we develop and strong, trusting bond.
As the trust grows my clients are able to scrutinize their own behaviours and abilities without fear of criticism or judgment. By asking appropriate questions I find that clients will evaluate their actions, tactics and attitude and will ultimately commit to making improvements, wherever such improvements might be required.
With regard to questions it sometimes amazes me when a simple question can stimulate so much thought and such a variety of responses.
A question as simple as “What would you need to happen for you to improve your performance at work”? can generate a huge amount of self-evaluation.
Another factor when comparing coaching to traditional training is that even the most quiet, timid person has a voice. During group training sessions the more vocal individuals can dominate a session. When individuals are coached on a one to one basis simply doesn’t happen and some incredibly intelligent thoughts and ideas arise.
So think about traditional training for a moment, is it always the solution?
If your favourite sports team decided not to have a coach and instead sent players on a series of training courses would it be a good move? Would the team improve?
Coaching is proven to be effective in improving performance, just ask some of the world’s most successful athletes.
Think about the training sessions you’ve attended during your career, there are bound to be a number of benefits that you have enjoyed and that is fantastic. But I bet you would take a lot more from a personal coaching programme.
Interestingly there are still a considerable number of senior executives who feel that they don’t need coaching as they are at a ‘higher level’ than their colleagues. This is a great shame in my opinion as no one is beyond being coached; in fact those that say they don’t need it are usually the ones who need it most.
Let me finish with some evidence as to the power of coaching…
“A study featured in Public Personnel Management Journal reports that managers (31) that underwent a managerial training programme showed an increased productivity of 22.4%. However, a second group was provided coaching following the training process and their productivity increased by 88%.
Research does demonstrate that one-on-one executive coaching is of significant value.”
F. Turner, Ph.D.
I rest my case.