Wednesday 30 May 2012

This morning we published the first edition of our newsletter Ambitions. Click Here to subscribe to our mailing list and receive the future editions of our newsletter.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Alternative Business Coaching Philosophies - individual and team performance improvement

Contrast these two coaching philosophies - one where the fact that assume you can only change 20% of a person’s behaviour means that if you work out where they are now you can assess whether a 20% improvement gets you to the end point you want and whether that person is worth investing in; and the second approach which is anchored more in the power of the individual to have an instrumental role in improving their own performance and then crafting a strategy around getting that 20% improvement and what opportunities that creates. Just for the avoidance of doubt it is the latter that I ascribe to and focus my coaching interventions on.

This should also be put in the context of measuring the overall effectiveness of a team versus the maximizing the performance of each team member. While there is clearly a threshold below which performance does become an issue and a question of how long you wait for the desired improvement, this is balanced by the need to allow for cyclical performance elements of team performance.  This refers to the situation where individuals can be up or down against plans at different times, but what matters is whether the team is moving forward and each individual contributes in the best way they can and over the long run proves valuable to the rest of the team.  Patience with this can depend on how willing individuals are to recognize where they are in that cycle, their awareness of whether things could change and openness to coaching so they are not seen as a drag on the rest of the team.   

Business Coaching then provides an essential element to help the individual work effectively in their team - pulling on their own resources and intuition to provide lasting improvements to to the way they approach their work.  This is different to a mentoring type approach where mentor can be seen to be potentially providing answers that should have been provided by the individuals themselves, creating dependence on their input, confusing line management processes, triggering defensive reactions of some members of the team and not generating sustainable performance improvement or buy-in and engagement to any change programme that the mentoring was supposed to be part of.  Some mentors can also have their own agendas that are difficult to manage.

There really does have to be clarity and trust between all parties if coaches are brought into a corporate environment - there should be no ambiguity about whether it is there truly to help an individual address issues that will improve their effectiveness and help them meet their own career goals or more assessment and peer comparison related as an input into other organisational decisions.  No point trying to offer a solution to a problem to someone who doesn’t recognise that the problem exists.

Coaching and Mentoring

Once upon a time, not so long ago, coaching's natural home was the sports arena. Within the business world it was the preserve of only the most screwed-up or self-important. Today it's commonplace. The latest Learning & Development Survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) shows coaching used 'frequently' by 71% of UK organisations. The irresistible rise of coaching is due to many factors; the increasing need for targeted, individual, just-in-time development; organisational downsizing resulting in larger step-changes in skills and responsibilities; employees demanding development; and growing awareness of the financial costs of poor employee performance.

This season's must have
Coaching is no longer fluffy and frivolous, or for remedial cases only. "Having a coach now carries kudos, not stigma," says Wayne Zangler of Razzle Development, "provided it's labelled as executive coaching." But should coaching be just a senior executive perk, the latest corporate fashion accessory? For performance coach Alastair Hill, "No one should have a coach merely for the sake of it, or due to status. There should always be a specific, individual reason and an identified outcome."

Unfortunately CIPD research shows only 43% of organisations offer coaching to all levels of employees. According to the Institute's Victoria Winkler, "There's still significant confusion as to what exactly coaching is, and how it differs from other helping behaviours such as counselling and mentoring." Broadly speaking, the CIPD defines coaching as "developing a person's skills and knowledge so that their job performance improves, leading to the achievement of organisational objectives". Keep reading...