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.

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