15 Apr Executive Coaching. What’s it about and does it work?
Coaching – be it personal or executive is very ‘en vogue’ at present. But, what is it and does it actually work?
Successful coaching is all about changing behavioural patterns and thought processes – not quick and never easy. It tends to work best with high potential people who are willing to make a concerted effort to change, not in an evangelical way but in a practical and realistic way.
Before embarking on a coaching engagement I sometimes ask my clients this question:
“Have you ever attempted to change the behaviour of your partner or a friend who had no interest in changing? How did that work out for you?”
The answer to the first part is often, “Yes.” Whilst the response to the second part of that question is almost always a resounding “Not well.” Hardly surprising. The same applies to ourselves.
The reason behind this is that coaching only tends to work with people or organisations who are receptive in that they are committed to making positive changes either in their personal or professional lives. The two go hand in hand and more often than not, clients are seeking to address both areas.
My goal is to support those clients as they aim to make changes for the better, not beat them about the head if they don’t! If they don’t want to do it, they won’t engage and coaching won’t be successful for them.
In a professional environment, there are countless, practical reasons why good coaching exists and why it is positively embraced in the workplace. For example;
- Stress and its impact at work. Stress has a considerable effect on individuals’ mental health at work. In turn, this has a significant financial impact on corporate organisations. In our fast-paced, global working lives, executive stress, mental health issues and derailment has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. In fact, the Health and Safety Executive (the national independent watchdog for work-related health) recorded that between 2016 and 2017 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the UK alone. This is an important area where and where individuals and companies can really benefit from appropriate coaching support.
- Deluge of information. Technology and its positive impact on our working practices is mind-blowing. That said, this always ‘switched on’ culture can make it very difficult for individuals to switch off from work or to focus effectively. It is stressful and sometimes difficult to know how to manage time, people or projects. Many of us need help to learn how to strike a better balance. This is a key area where coaching can help.
- Inter-generational differences and collaboration in the workplace. In the current climate of rapid change, a major challenge is how to attract and retain a skilled workforce. Companies and individuals can find themselves managing three different generations of workers under one roof. How do we create an environment that allows teams with broad and different skills to thrive? Coaching programmes are an effective method of bringing diverse teams closer together to motivate employees, improve retention and create better avenues for employee collaboration.
- Over promotion, management & leadership. Imagine this scenario. A good individual contributor is promoted but she/he struggles to be a good manager or strong leader and loses the confidence of the team. Sound familiar? Being ‘thrust’ into these roles can be successful for some, but it is not right for everyone. What can we do to improve our response to this and how can we properly support these individuals? Companies can work with a coach to provide individual and team support for management and leadership positions. This combined approach will allow senior individuals to identify their own growth goals but also to implement a process which supports their responsibility for developing their subordinate managers.
- Succession Grooming. Coaching can accelerate the development of high performing mid-level managers too. To ensure the continued success of an organisation succession coaching ensures that sufficient attention is given to future leadership development.
These are just some examples.
It is simple. If you are feeling dissatisfied or unfulfilled in your work there are options you can consider. A chance to reassess. You could live with a short-term fix and accept an increase in salary or you can always leave and repeat the same mistakes. In our experience, a chance to take a long view and find more permanent solutions for those seeking ‘success’ and fulfilment at work is to utilise professional support by engaging a coach. In doing this, you may find that you remain in your current job, or perhaps you will leave. However, you will have shifted our perspective and behaviour, which will help secure the right future opportunity, whatever that might look like for you. Why is this?
Well, here is what happens when an individual enters into a coaching engagement with a willingness to grow, both professionally and personally.
- Improved self-awareness & confidence. Coaching ‘shines a light’ on how we behave, leading to improved self-awareness, increased confidence and people behaving more authentically and communicating more effectively with themselves, their teams and colleagues. This can only be a good thing.
- See others more clearly. We sometimes run into difficulties at work because of our inaccurate ‘read’ of others. An insightful coach will have a more neutral and accurate perception and will help you to apply the same mental skills for yourself wherever you happen to be employed.
- Learn new ways to respond. What got you into your current position, won’t necessarily be the way forward. A good coach can help you see that success can come in a variety of ways. The more tools you have in your toolbox the better!
- Build more productive relationships. Sometimes, individuals and leaders can limit their effectiveness by only being willing or able to build relationships with certain kinds of people. A good coach will help you recognise these tendencies and provide mechanisms to aid your understanding and adopt new behaviour patterns…
It really is that simple. To succeed in business today and life in general, we have to positively respond to a more complex work environment and develop adaptable skills. Good coaching can provide give you this insight and a range of tools and processes that provide practical and realistic support to help you to close the gap between where you are today and where you would ultimately like to reach.