The Need for Workplace Coaching
Working in the learning and development industry over the last 15+ years, I have seen time and again, organisations spend a fortune on training for their employees with little to no follow up.
If a facilitator is effective and the training is engaging and interesting, then the attendees may speak about it among themselves for a few days, or they may come back from training brimming with ideas for change. Unfortunately, after a few days, the reality and pace of their everyday role sinks in, and they quickly forget the training or what they were going to change.
I always say that any training is about a series of touch points that must be reached along a journey. If you want your employees to learn something, then there needs to be a long-term emphasis on the topic. Not just in a training program, but outside of the classroom too. The topic needs to be a focus in team meetings, conversations should be had about how to improve, feedback should be given and assistance and support provided.
Workplace coaching is one of the most effective ways to ensure that knowledge is retained and performance is improved. According to the online Business Dictionary, coaching is defined as:
"Extending traditional training methods to include focus
on (1) an individual’s needs and accomplishments, (2)
close observation, and (3) impartial and non-judgemental
feedback on performance.”
This means that a workplace coach will work with individuals to focus on what they have accomplished already and what they can improve on. They will act as a guide, a sounding board and a support for the person, all the while ensuring that the topic of training stays top of mind.
Why is Workplace Coaching Important?
According to the International Personnel Management Association survey on training and development (Olivero, Bane & Kopelman), it was found that when training is conducted alone, productivity increases by an average of 22 percent, but when combined with coaching, productivity increases by 88 percent.
Coaching usually has the following characteristics:
Sessions are generally more structured in nature and occur on a regular basis;
Coaching is short-term in nature;
Goals are developed and become the focus for the coaching sessions;
Feedback is given by the coach on the person’s strengths and weaknesses (in a non-judgemental fashion); and
Sessions are usually action-orientated and will work on small steps towards the development and improvement of performance.
Benefits of Coaching:
Coaching has many benefits, for both the individual, the coach and the organisation. These include:
For the Individual:
Allows them to develop their skills and expertise;
Individuals get hands-on experience with real-life examples related directly to their role;
Ensures that individuals take responsibility for their own learning and development;
Assists the individuals to develop relationships with other team members/managers;
Provides individuals with performance feedback in a proactive manner; and
Supports the retention of any formal classroom-based learning.
For the Coach:
Being selected to be a coach rewards an individual’s performance;
Coaching contributes to personal development, particularly in areas such as communication, leadership, providing feedback etc;
Assists the individuals to develop relationships with other team members/managers; and
Allows the coach to feel a real sense of contribution to the team by supporting others.
For the Organisation:
Supports the retention of any formal classroom-based learning;
Can be a more cost-effective way of increasing performance;
Motivates the learner to take responsibility for their own learning and development;
Increases performance and job readiness; and
Increases employee engagement and job satisfaction.
Conducting Workplace Coaching:
While there are many different coaching models out there, they all basically go through similar steps. These are:
The planning stage is key if you want to ensure that your coaching sessions are successful. Being thorough during this stage allows both the individual and the coach to get the most from the coaching session.
To prepare for a workplace coaching session you need to:
Determine the goals of the coaching session (what do you want to achieve and why?);
Identify any potential barriers to achieving these goals (individual’s attitude, location of coaching session, appearance of individuals needing assistance, lack of resources/time etc);
Identify measures to overcome these barriers;
Organise a time and place for the coaching session to occur (somewhere quiet where you won’t get distracted or interrupted);
Plan how the session will go, including what topics/skills you will cover, how you will cover these and how long you will need.
Prepare any resources you require, e.g. training materials, computer software etc.
2. Introducing the Coaching Session:
The first stage of the actual coaching session is the introductions.Developing a good relationship with the individual which includes respect, trust and good rapport is vital to ensuring that coaching is successful.
For a successful introduction, ensure that you:
Welcome the individual to the coaching session;
Introduce yourself, ensuing that you explain how and why you are a coach;
Ask questions to determine what the individual needs assistance with and how they are feeling about coaching;
Use active listening when the individual is speaking; and
Explain what will occur during the coaching session.
3. Conduct the Coaching Session:
This stage is where information is shared, learning and development takes place and the coaching goals are worked towards and achieved.
In this stage it is important to:
Assess the individual’s strengths and areas for improvement;
Identify and define the individual’s goals in regards to performance improvement/development;
For each coaching topic, explain why things are being done and why it is relevant to the individual;
Start from what the individual already knows and work from there;
Work through information/tasks one step at a time, allowing time for questions and discussion;
Ensure that the coaching tasks are hands-on real-life examples;
Share information and knowledge openly;
Let the individual lead, remembering the coach is just there to guide, support and facilitate learning;
Use simple, effective and clear communication to ensure understanding;
Ask questions to check for understanding; and
Tackle one coaching goal at a time.
4. Review the Session and Provide Feedback:
After each coaching session it is important to conduct a review to determine:
What went well in the session?
What could be improved?
Did the learning goals for the session get met?
Is more time required?
It is also extremely important for the coach to provide feedback to the individual. Feedback is a form of communication which conveys information regarding an individual’s work and results.
Positive feedback should be provided where an individual has performed well, for example, “you navigated that system very well”.
Constructive feedback should be provided when you need to highlight an area where the individual could have done better. Remember that constructive feedback is not a criticism or personal, it should be based on observable facts and directed at the action. For example, “you navigated that system very well to find the necessary information, but you seemed to struggle when you had to update the information. Why do you think that is?”
About PDI Solutions:
PDI Solutions can work with organisations to develop and deliver training solutions tailored to your particular organisation around leadership, team building or any other professional development. Contact us today for a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at pdisolutions.com.au