14 July 2022
What is coaching in the workplace
Workplace coaching is a learning and development method where coaches guide employees on how to change their behaviour and achieve specific goals at work. Result-oriented and performance-focused, coaches support employees to understand their challenges and develop their own self-generated solutions.
Coaching is best suited to improve a person’s soft skills, such as improving how you collaborate with colleagues, becoming a strong active listener or building a stronger process to solve problems.
Why is coaching important in the workplace
The one-size-fits-all nature of a lot of traditional training programmes often falls short in giving employees the skills they need to solve complex challenges in today’s evolving workplace. That’s where coaching steps in and excels. It provides tailored, just-in-time learning that enriches employees’ skills to hyper-focus on developing behaviours and skills to navigate their biggest obstacles at work and produce stronger business results.
Also, successful coaching provides a trusting environment where coachees feel comfortable exploring their strengths and weaknesses and are constantly held to account to deliver on their promises. This heightens employee confidence and job satisfaction. In fact, companies with strong coaching cultures reported that 61% of their employees are highly engaged, according to a study. This is 8% higher than organisations with weak coaching cultures.
Benefits of coaching in the workplace
1. Improves individual performance: The whirlwind pace of workplaces today means that many managers don’t get spend as much time giving their reports regular one-on-one training and discussions that focus on their development. Coaching provides an added support system for employees, which gives them personalised, one-on-one help to solve the issues and drive their performance.
2. Increases engagement: Coaching is a fantastic way to invest in the career progression of employees and reverse the trend many organisations face with low engagement in their workplace.Studies show that when employees are given the opportunities they want, they are more likely to feel engaged, dedicated and connected with their employer.
3. Deeper level of learning: A lot of workplace learning involves soaking up tons of information and trying to remember, hence why employees utilize only 5-to-20% of what they’re taught in training courses. By comparison, coaching also includes inquisitive two-way conversation on the coachee’s goals, solutions and fears and prompts them to use better behaviours in the workplace every day.
4. Builds trust: Many employees have coaches who are independent, third-party individuals with no ties to their team, and that allows for a non-judgmental safe space where individuals can take the time to learn thoroughly, practice new skills, make mistakes, voice their concerns, learn fixes, and build their confidence of using these behaviours in the workforce.
5. Empowers individuals to take charge of their career: A survey by the Pew Research Center found that the second reason people quit their jobs in the last year is because they lacked opportunities for advancement in their role. Coaching helps employers retain their talent by giving them the attention they want and giving them control over the skills and behaviours they learn, and the pathway they choose to develop their career.
Types of coaching in the workplace
Executive coaching: Working with chief executives, chief financial officers and other C-Suite leaders, executive coaching helps senior leaders become more effective at driving their whole organisation’s performance, innovation, and results.
Leadership coaching: Junior, middle and seniors participate in leadership coaching which guides them on how to build, motivate and align their teams to achieve business goals.
Performance coaching: Available to any employee at work who wants to be better at their role, this type of coaching helps people develop skills that are specific to meeting the objectives of their current job.
Team coaching: Suitable for teams that want to strengthen their communication skills and work cross-functionally, team coaching encourages employees to collaborate, build stronger relationships and work through challenges together.
Virtual coaching: Delivered online, virtual coaching allows participants to learn from any location (that has an internet connection) and costs a fraction of face-to-face offerings.
Integrated coaching: Makes learning stick by using coaching sessions alongside training within a leadership development programme
Difference between coaching and counselling at work
Counselling is a talking therapy that encourages people to discuss their personal, social, or psychological difficulties with a trained counsellor, who aims to help them cope with their problems.
Counsellors help their client to see things more clearly and from an objective perspective, with the hope that they can make positive steps to change their circumstances.
By comparison, coaching is more performance and results based. It empowers people to take positive action to achieve their goals through mutually agreed steps between coach and participant.
Coaching looks at the challenges presented – usually professional – and helps coaching participants to find a different way forward. It enables the individual to look at difficult solutions and develop skills to form new habits, attitudes, or abilities to deal with these.
When’s the right time to use coaching in the workplace?
1. Addressing skill gaps: In situations where employees or leaders are lacking particular skills - such as organisation and teamworking abilities – coaching is a great way to give people one-to-one tutorship to add more tools to their skillset.
2. To improve the quality of one’s work: The influence of an impartial coach can provide some clarity to employees on where their weaknesses lie, how to get better and steer them along the pathway to producing better results.
3. To help employees achieve their goals: Goals are often easier to set than to get. Coaches help employees to not just decide on their goals but build the habits that equip them to accomplish them – even when they come up against difficult obstacles.
How to start building a coaching culture in the workplace?
Understand the ‘why’: Develop the narrative on why the organisation is using coaching, the challenges it will solve and how it will add tangible value to the workforce.
Be clear on coaching: Coaching is often used interchangeably with mentoring or other forms of training, which just leads to confusion and unrealistic expectations that block progress.
Embrace two-way communication: Coaching isn’t about coaches telling participants what to do, it’s about helping people to find and apply their own solutions.
Create accountability: When every employee is experiencing coaching conversations on a regular basis, it leads to a coaching culture where everyone feels invested.
Robust performance management systems: Create the six psychological conditions that are scientifically proven to have the most impact on cultivating an environment that enables employees to be at their best - Purpose, Challenge, Attention, Growth, Recognition and Choice.
Five keys to effective coaching in the workplace
1. Develop clear goals that are aligned to the business strategy
Before starting coaching, the best coaches will discuss with coaches what they are aiming to achieve, and ensuring it’s completely aligned with organisational aims and strategy. It sets the direction of sessions and gives employees greater clarity on what they should expect and their responsibilities.
2. Base the coaching approach on an evidence-based methodology
Just 14% of coaches are selected based on the methodology they use, despite 68% of coaches admitting that it’s a crucial factor for coaching to be a success.The lack of a coaching methodology can inadvertently stifle intended outcomes and can lead to inconsistent results or an over-reliance on coach-coachee dynamics to deliver results.
3. Focus on changing behaviour, not just mindset
Research shows a change in mindset only delivers behavioural change one third of the time. The best coaching methodologies acknowledge this common intention-behaviour gap, and work with participants to develop the tools to change their behaviour in the workplace.
4. Fewer, shorter, sharper sessions for maximum impact
MindGym’s precision coaching demonstrates that just four, 45-minute-long sessions of coaching will have the greatest impact, fastest. As well as helping individuals find clear goals in the face of complex challenges, these bitesize coaching sessions build creative ways to achieve those goals and equip participants with science-backed behavioural enablement techniques to overcome hurdles.
5. Measure the impact
Coaches can track the impact on participants by assessing the:
-Reaction: Did they enjoy the experience?
-Internal change: Measure the psychological constructs that predict behaviour change, such as self-efficacy, mastery orientation and behavioural enablement.
-Behaviour change: 180-360-degree feedback from colleagues to measure whether behaviour change has happened in the real world.
-Organisational outcomes: Analyse data to demonstrate a chain of impact to top-level organisational metrics like engagement surveys, financial results or productivity metrics.
Common challenges of coaching in the workplace and how to overcome them?
1. Time: Workplace coaching requires participants to dedicate time to it, whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly. And with many employees and managers already overwhelmed by packed schedules, it can be a struggle to commit significant time to coaching.
How to overcome it: Take a bite sized approach to coaching. Keep sessions short, sharp, and frequent to ensure they are as impactful as possible, while also fitting neatly into calendars of busy employees and leaders.
2. Distance: Some workplace coaching programmes require participants to engage with coaches in-person either in the office or another location. While this can be great for building a relationship with coaches, co-located coaching can be difficult for people to attend consistently, especially for those who work predominantly from home or who have a long commute.
How to overcome it: Provide the choice for employees to attend their coaching sessions virtually through an app or videoconferencing if they are unable to do so in-person.
3. Inconsistent coaching results: The positive effects of coaching aren’t always consistent. Coaching can work, but only if done well. Unfortunately, what makes coaching effective isn’t always intuitive.
In fact, we’re quite bad at identifying what really works because we overvalue the aspects that make us feel comfortable and undervalue what will help us change our behaviour in a meaningful and sustained way. So, those who jump to thinking about how to ‘scale’ conventional coaching is at risk of scaling something that isn’t as effective or efficient as it could be.
How to overcome it: Use a coaching approach that’s built on an evidence-based methodology and delivers sessions that focus on techniques that are scientifically proven to achieve results.
What are the common myths about coaching?
Unfortunately, many employers also experience inconsistent, and often underwhelming, results because they fall for one or more of these common coaching myths:
Selecting coaches based on their relationship: Research shows that only 8% of performance improvement is explained by the coach-coachee relationship dynamic
Thinking more sessions always leads to better results: Meta-analytic research has found that more coaching sessions do not equate to more impact. And for some outcomes, fewer sessions are better.
Believing the intention to act is enough: Behavioural science shows us that intentions predict behaviour only 1/3 of the time. Coaching needs to do more than motivate participants to inspire behaviour change.
Relying on participant opinions to judge coaching’s effectiveness: The best coaching programmes also analyse internal change, behavioral change, and business impact to understand how coaching has helped participants.
Discover how to avoid falling for these myths and learn the ‘active ingredients’ in coaching that drive behaviour change at our upcoming Precision Coaching webinar.
How to improve workplace coaching with precision coaching
A review of the coaching and behaviour change literature shows us that the key ingredients for an impactful coaching session include a psychologically informed framework, ways to overcome the intention–behaviour gap, a focus on goal getting (not just goal setting), building self-efficacy, and adjusting goal orientation.
MindGym’s Precision coaching methodology – backed by 20+ years of behavioural science expertise - is designed to create sustained behaviour change for employees and business improvement for organisations.
Fast, goal focused and measurable, precision coaching integrates three different streams of applied psychology research proven to drive behaviour change:
-Solutions-focused coaching: focus on solutions rather than exploring underlying issues.
-Behaviour enablement: Identify enablers of capability, opportunity and motivation.
-Mastery orientation: Build in opportunities to experience little and often, iterative progress towards a ‘big’ goal.
Learn more about how you can use precision coaching to improve the performance of your employees within just 4x45-minute sessions.