Four Ways Coaching Can Be Useful Amid Organizational Change
When I tell people that I am a coach and that I run a coaching firm, their first reaction is often something like, “Oh I know someone who can use your help.” I hear stories about people dealing with bad bosses, people who hate their jobs, people who really want a promotion but haven’t yet gotten one, the list goes on. Coaching can absolutely help with all of those things, but what many don’t realize is that coaching has the power to do much more.
Coaching can not only help individuals increase their own effectiveness and job satisfaction, but done right and strategically, it's also a way for businesses to build broader organizational capability and ultimately drive higher performance and strategic behavior shifts across large groups of people. If you want your organization to be more "client-focused" or you want your leadership team to lead more effectively, coaching can help with both.
As a coach who specializes in designing programs that help organizations build capability, I've seen several instances in which coaching has helped organizations through some of their toughest strategic challenges. Here are some specific examples:
1. During Transformational Change, Such As Mergers Or Acquisitions
When an organization is going through massive transformation, sometimes the biggest barriers can stem from leadership. The leaders may buy into the change, but they don’t always know how to change their own behavior to effectively lead the change for the organization.
In a strategic coaching partnership, coaches can work with leaders both on an individual basis and as an executive team to align individual actions and leadership decision making and messaging to overall organizational strategy. The coach can assess the team leading the change, identify what is working and what isn't, and work with that team to improve their ability to lead more effectively and better drive change in the organization.
In addition, the coach can assess each individual leader and ensure each leader is operating as effectively as possible, both as a leader of their function and as a member of the executive leadership team. The combination of both team and individual coaching is a powerful accelerator for leadership capability, which, in turn, accelerates the desired transformation.
2. When Embedding Formal Learning With Employees Across An Organization
Courses and training programs are great for delivering information but sometimes fall short of motivating people to make significant changes in the way they operate. It’s often helpful to have a coach work with an employee before the training program even starts to discuss personal objectives and set goals for how the learning will be applied. After the training, the coaching should continue as a way to help the individual reflect on their learning and embed the change.
3. During Business Growth And Restructuring
If a leader wants to build out a new business but has a very junior team, that leader could hire externally to source more senior team members, or they could enlist the help of a coaching team to work with the junior team to elevate their performance. For example, the coaches can help build their executive presence, their strategic thinking ability and their profile in the organization, in effect accelerating their executive leadership ability in the organization.
4. When Developing High-Potential Talent
High potential talent groups pose a huge opportunity for organizations to incorporate strategic coaching.
Like senior leadership teams, high-potential employees are an important mechanism to drive change and embed new strategies. They are usually driven and highly motivated to make an impact, and others in the organization tend to take cues from them and view what they do as a path to success.
Strategic coaching can help build broader strategic and business skills amongst these high-potential individuals, and improve their ability to collaborate across different divisions within the organization. This can be done by creating peer coaching groups of a small number of high-potential employees and using a coach to help them coach each other in a group setting. This allows each high-potential employee to get tailored leadership development and also helps to build a network of peers across the organization.
The additional benefits of this approach include increasing the profile of all high-potential employees, improving their understanding of other functions, building bridges between those functions and obtaining alignment to strategy within this group. Using this group to work on strategic initiatives or as an advisory group on strategy can also help drive organizational change and improve their personal motivation and development.
The best way to figure out how to leverage a strategic coaching partnership, for any organization, is to think about some of your biggest opportunities and challenges. Usually, these challenges can be solved by large groups of people working together. Coaching doesn't just help people lead more effectively as individual leaders, but as members of teams as well.
Originally posted at Forbes.com.