The Impact of Coaching in the Workplace

In today’s climate, as business leaders and managers we need to retain and motivate key staff. When times are hard employees can be fearful and building trust is vital in order to get the best out of people.
Jackie Arnold explores how a coaching style of management can achieve significant results.
The rapid spread of coaching
You may have noticed that coaching is now gaining momentum. In the US and Europe most corporate and public organisations are now training coaches internally or bringing in coaching programmes and experts from outside. The business case for coaching is well documented by the (CIPD) Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in their Guide to Coaching 2004. If you are considering setting up coaching in your organisation the conditions are now more favourable than at any time in the past.

One significant advantage of coaching is that your employees will begin to take ownership and responsibility for their actions and self-development. The good news is that the manager as coach does not need to come up with solutions. Instead you will be listening more closely to your staff, reflecting back what you hear and questioning them in order to bring out their ideas and solutions.
Coaching programmes
From my point of view coaching is not a tool, it is a way of being. At best it is a way of being with someone so that they begin to believe in, and progress, their own ideas. Coaching your employees can best be achieved by setting up a certified coach training programme for managers so that they can coach their staff successfully by:
• ensuring there are clear agreements and confidentiality
• creating and maintaining the energy and space for them to further their own potential
• encouraging them to take calculated risks
• challenging their negative beliefs
• enjoying with them the sense of achievement.
• working with them to enhance their potential
Successfully done coaching can greatly enhance the self-belief and motivation of staff, particularly in times of change and uncertainty.

Coaching works best when you can create a calm and relaxed one to one session where issues can be explored and workers feel supported. Coaching is to a great extent a particular mindset and way of being in a respectful conversation with another person. A manager as coach will believe in the potential of the employee, listen to them and work with them to nurture that potential. Coaching is most effective in an atmosphere of openness and honest communication. Many companies, who employ a coaching style of management recognise that employees are motivated by having well-being and work-life balance high on the list of company values.

Enabling them to enhance their skills and knowledge by requesting training and mentoring is also very effective. It is interesting to see that a study by the International Personnel Management Association noted however, that ordinary training typically increased productivity by 22%, while training combined with coaching increased productivity by 88%

By using coaching techniques such as deep listening and effective questioning skills you create space for your employees to reflect on their learning. Training takes time to be implemented and this is where coaching can really aid this process. The one to one sessions allow the employee to bring up concerns or areas of difficulty in a non-judgemental space. Employees are then more willing to take responsibility for their progress and feel motivated when they are encouraged and valued.

A coaching model
There are several coaching models that can be very effective. One of the most famous is the GROW model which was developed and enhanced by John Whitmore for use in business.
G – Goal (What is the team/ individual wanting to achieve)
R – Reality (What is the current reality of the situation/issue)
O – Options (What options are open to them)
W – Will/Way (Is there a will and a way to take things forward)

When you are using coaching skills as a line manager or team leader it can be difficult to fall into the following traps when coaching:

• Trying to help people or fix the problem for them
• Jumping in with your ideas or suggestions
• Making them feel you are the expert
• Letting them know you know more than they do

However, training your staff to gain qualifications in coaching can minimise these risks.
Case study:
Airbus was a company who decided to employ external coaches to set up a programme of coaching for their senior executives. The main components of the content were:
– use of a 360° feedback based on the Airbus ten key leadership behaviours
– telephone interviews by the coach with four or five people close to and selected by the coachees
– one team observation meeting with the silent presence of the coach before the second coaching session. (This was to enable the coach to give the leader useful feedback if requested) and to coach him on his leadership “presence”)
– seven face to face coaching sessions of two hours without interruption, in a quiet place on site, over an approximate eight month period
– confidential theme analysis conducted after the third session
– a hot telephone line with the coach for one year
– an Action/Leadership Development Plan shared with the operational manager and HR
– Three months of telephone/e-mail follow up support
The programme was evaluated by first identifying the desired outcomes/behaviours and then by measuring the current reality. This was then assessed at the end of the programme to see exactly where the coaching had had an impact. This was repeated six months later when the effects of the coaching had been embedded.

As you have seen setting up a robust coaching programme is not a quick fix. It needs to be carefully considered and contracting and agreements drawn up between all stakeholders. Nonetheless as a manager using coaching skills in the workplace you can greatly enhance the motivation and willingness of staff to take ownership of their development. This will free you up to do the job you were employed to do and enable you to delegate more effectively.

Jackie Arnold
Jackie is a leadership coach and the director of Coach 4 Executives. She runs accredited coach training programmes for the Institute of Leadership & Management. Many of the case studies in her latest book “Coaching skills for Leaders in the Workplace” published by How To Books 2009 are taken from real examples of coaching programmes set up by her clients and course participants. In her business Jackie has often used her own coach to support her in achieving her goals. She says: “Coaching is by far the most stimulating professional conversation I have ever experienced.”