If you operate a business, then you probably think that your bottom line is your bottom line. It is all about bringing in the profits. It is all about delighting your customers so they will return and tell all their friends (which today may include thousands of Facebook friends, as well). So, it’s very likely that in your quest to increase sales and beef up marketing efforts, you are focusing most of your energy on just that – sales and marketing. You may also be thinking of ways to improve your product and/or customer service. Those are all worthy goals. However, there is something important that many business leaders tend to overlook – their people.
People are THE key to a successful business. Why? Because people are your direct line to the customer. If they are not performing at their best or growing their capabilities then your business isn’t doing that either. One solution to creating a more successful business with people bustling with productivity is to provide work-related coaching.
How does work-related coaching differ from life coaching?
Work-related coaching and life coaching may seem very similar on the surface. Both leverage self-awareness and feedback, tend to be goal oriented and generally assume a positive outlook on individual capacity for change. Where they differ rather significantly is in their context and purpose.
Life coaching enables the client to identify and achieve meaningful personal goals that may or may not be work related. The measure of success is individual personal satisfaction, not necessarily professional satisfaction or organizational performance. The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches defines work-related coaching as follows, “The goal is to enhance the client’s awareness and behavior so as to achieve business objectives for both the client and their organization.” Work-related coaching enables the client to understand their role in achieving individual and organizational success at work and to enhance that role in ways that are measurable and sustainable.
Within that context, coaches work with their clients to develop and execute a development plan that will enhance their ability to achieve business-related outcomes. A necessary component of every development plan is building self-awareness – understanding one’s impact on others and the business. Without self-awareness, it is nearly impossible for clients to sustain meaningful changes in behavior or muster the motivation required to master new skills.
For example, let’s say you are a retail salesperson who is very knowledgeable about the product you sell (that is your strength), yet you are naturally quite introverted and exhausted by face to face interaction with people (that is your area for growth). A coach would work with you to help you to first understand your strengths and your areas for growth in the context of how they may impact your job performance and the business as a whole. Then, he/she would work with you to create a plan using specific strategies and tactics – building on your strengths while mitigating or enhancing your areas for growth.
While business leaders often consider work-related coaching to be part of every manager’s job, the reality is that most managers receive no formal training or guidance on how to coach their employees. Those who do receive formal training and/or do it well are often so pressed for time due to heavy workloads that it doesn’t happen.
What are the benefits of work-related coaching?
Coaching is an investment for which the returns can be difficult for a business to isolate and measure in the short term. Below are five ways to understand the benefits of work-related coaching for a business or organization. Hint: it helps to take the long view.
1. Enhances employee engagement and retention
According to Gallup News, only 32% of employees were engaged in 2015. In fact, the Gallup wrote an article the following year decrying the state of employee engagement, calling it a crisis. The reason being is that the statistics on engagement have hardly moved at all. People are just as disengaged at work as they were in the years prior to that. This indicates that businesses have not cracked the code yet on reversing this trend. While there are a number of variables that factor into employee engagement, coaching is a potent lever that can positively increase employee engagement. How and why?
To get employees engaged and to retain top talent , you need to inspire their interest. A bigger paycheck only goes so far. We do know that most people have an innate desire and interest to learn and grow. According to astrophysicist, Mario Livio, people are born with what is termed “epistemic curiosity,” which is based on a love for knowledge and a desire to learn new things. He states “our brain and our mind assigns value to this knowledge, so this is usually experienced as a pleasurable thing, with an anticipation of reward in the form of what we learn.” The foundation of coaching is 1:1 learning. Through coaching, employees learn more and perceive they are growing as an individual, all of which is rewarding to them. What better way to retain your employees than to reward them through their own natural desire to learn?
2. Happy Customers
Engaged employees are happy employees, and happy employees lead to happy customers. In part, this is because engaged employees are much more productive than their disengaged counterparts. One of the ways we measure employee engagement is the amount of discretionary effort he/she is willing to extend in the service of their employer. In other words, how likely is he/she to go above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy a customer, close a sale, meet a deadline, etc.?
For most organizations, frequent employee turnover has a negative effect on the customer experience. If you do not retain top talent how can you expect to retain top customers?
3. Increases team performance
As a leader, you may have observed that teams just do not work as well together as others. Cohesive teams out-perform non-cohesive teams and boost organizational performance. How do you achieve team cohesion? The first question to ask is why you do not have it. Often team members are individually fantastic, but do not work well together or as a unit. Individual or group coaching can help diagnose the root of the issue, and then help team members develop and execute specific strategies tailored to enhance team dynamics and performance.
4. Reinforces mission critical skills
Let’s face it, we all tend to forget things sometimes. Why? When it comes to new information we acquire through a training class, one study found, “45 percent of employees spend at least 15 minutes per week looking up information that was taught in a company training session.” That may not sound like much, but the time adds up.
Another study reveals that people forget about 97% of what they learn 30 days after they learn it. That doesn’t sound very promising especially when they need to know the information to perform well. Work-related coaching helps resolve this problem by reinforcing critical skills and information your employees need to know.
One critical component of successful coaching is shared reflection and learning. Anytime a person teaches another person about what they have learned, or explains what they have learned via reflection to someone else, it reinforces the information. According to research, when you re-teach or share what you have just learned (or implement it immediately in some way), you retain 90 % of the information.
5. Increases organizational health
Organizational health is largely dependent on having strong cultural alignment with your business imperatives. Culture refers to “the way we do things around here.” Building a winning culture for your business happens one person at a time. Coaching can augment that effort by identifying and reinforcing desirable behaviors while discouraging unproductive ones.
For more information on workplace coaching and how we can help, visit www.sjleadershipcoach.com