If I could make one change in organizations across the board it would be to raise the competence and frequency of coaching in the workplace. Unfortunately, the power of great coaching is unrealized in most organizations. Most engagement surveys find more and better coaching and feedback at the top of the list of opportunities for the organization to address.

It defies common sense that there is a coaching gap in organizations. Let’s just think about it for a moment. Would you put a new driver behind the wheel without ongoing reinforcement and correction from you in the seat next to her? No, but we give people responsibilities all the time in the workplace for things they have never been exposed to and don’t give them any guidance, coaching or feedback to help them be successful. We often hear things like “it’s baptism by fire here” or “we have a sink or swim development approach here”. Those ideas are foolish. It’s a waste of time and is counter productive. People get discouraged with these approaches. I’m not advocating giving people the answers but give them perspective and ideas so they can be successful! Would the top golfer or top quarterback in the world operate without a team of people giving him/her insight about how they are performing and suggestions for improvement?  Of course not, yet it is done in organizations.

Done well, good coaching is well worth it. A recent Corporate Leadership Council survey showed that good coaching leads to improved employee engagement, retention and performance. Specifically regarding performance, employees receiving fair and accurate feedback from their managers performed 40% better than employees who did not. 

Personally, as an executive coach, the value is tremendous. I find such joy in coaching. Helping other people, mostly senior leaders around the world, be better than they were is pretty incredible. It’s really powerful when the person you have been working with on a specific skill or behavior masters it and achieves success. I have found this to be true of most people who are truly committed to other people’s success. Great leaders who are known for their strength in coaching and are cited as such, share this trait. Coaching is who they are not something they do. This is transmitted to the person being coached in many ways. If you ask a person who has had a successful coaching relationship what makes it great, they will tell you the coach actually cared. They would say that the coach was clear, persistent, committed, and often passionate and gave them a different perspective.

As a coach, there should be a method to your madness. A simple and thoughtful approach will go far in helping the person being coached. To keep me honest, I think about getting straight A’s in my coaching efforts. These five A’s or five steps will help you leverage the full power of coaching:

  • Analyze. Determine what is going on is essential. Develop good analytical skills and make determinations takes practice but look for patterns of behavior.
  • Agree. Nothing will change unless the person is completely bought into what needs to be taken to a higher level and unless the two of you are totally in alignment.
  • Address. Determine how to make a difference. What’s the best way to address closing the gap this particular item or taking it to a new level? There are many coaching strategies – provide feedback, teach, tell stories, practice, etc. Determine which one will have the biggest impact and start executing.
  • Access. A coach has to be present. They need data to help the person determine if they are on track or how to adjust. That means the coach has established ways on connecting with the person regarding their ongoing practice and performance. This is essential.
  • Achieve. When success is achieved, celebrate. Plan on winning. Make a plan to win. Celebrate when the person wins.

The power of coaching for the person being coached is significant. To have input on how something looks outside of yourself and ideas on how to make it even better is such an accelerant of success. Good perspective saves time, effort, frustration and points you towards success. A skilled coach will address the specific behavior or performance, talk about the significance or impact of what is going on and give you specific examples. This all works to provide you insight greater than your own. It’s like walking into a dressing room that not only has a mirror in the front but one behind you. Sometimes that’s painful and you don’t want to look in that rear mirror. But, in actuality, you do because it is information that you need to be successful.

Coaching is something two people engage in to help someone take something to a new level. The person being coached should be a full participant and in actuality, should be driving the process. The person should have a deep hunger for knowing what is working and mining the coach for lots of ideas on how to be better. Learning how to ask for input, listening to input, adjusting, practicing and asking for input again are skills and habits that can be developed. A powerful question to put in your pocket for this purpose in almost any interaction is “If you were me and were to do this again, what would you do more or less of to be even more effective?”  Such a question sets the stage for input and sets the expectation that you are interested in being the best you can be.

Can you imagine the power of an organization if every employee came into work tomorrow with the commitment to solicit feedback and coaching to be better in their role and committed to providing coaching and feedback to others so they are more powerful in their role? Wow. That’s unimaginable power. It’s all possible and needs to be unleashed. So let’s get to it…

To have input on how something looks outside of yourself and ideas on how to make it even better is such an accelerant of success. 

– Kim Janson