Companies can treat coaching as a rare and remedial tool, or they can build coaching into the fiber of the organization and use it to create long-term competitive advantages.
Self-improvement and self-optimization are two trending movements within the corporate talent pool. While in the past, individuals might have sought out private coaching to achieve their personal and professional goals, people are increasingly looking to their employers to provide coaching resources to them. Riding on this movement, leading edge organizations aren’t just making a coach or two available – they’re building dedicated coaching programs into their own infrastructure.
Of course, as the use of coaching inside organizations becomes more sophisticated and strategic, it needs to be built in a sustainable way so that competitive advantages don’t fade away with the next developmental trend. Here, three tips for building a sustainable corporate coaching capability will be discussed, along with how to lean on this coaching foundation no matter where the firm may be in its overall coaching journey.
TIP #1: MAKE COACHING SOMETHING EVERYONE DOES
A first step in sustainability is moving the corporate coaching experience from an isolated, individual endeavor to something that’s expected of all employees. Many companies have cultivated systems where stand out performers (or problems) are singled out for coaching. However, greater transformation and sustainability is possible when coaching is moved from an exceptional activity to an expected norm for all members of the organization, according research from BetterUp and Tracy Sinclair.
The key is embracing the belief that everyone has the potential to grow and develop as a person and as an employee or manager. Choosing this mindset on an organizational level shifts the entire dialogue and approach to personnel growth. It can make organizations much more attractive in the eyes of staff (some 82% of workers say they’d leave an organization where there wasn’t room for them to grow, according to CareerAddict) and allow teams to bring forward more of their skills to boost company-wide performance levels.
For organizations where coaching is newer, by making self-improvement and skill improvement something open to and expected of everyone in the organization, the corporate coaching capability becomes something everyone benefit from, ensuring a robust level of ongoing support for the function. For organizations where coaching has been a presence in the past, this expanded access reminds workers that they have the potential to grow and can help teams push through previous limits by encouraging them to have everyone participate in the growth opportunity to coaching function provides.
TIP #2: CREATE AN INTERNAL COACHING CENTER WITH WELL-TRAINED COACHES
A second step for organizations that want to have a sustainable coaching function is to bring the function in-house. According to research from Tracy Sinclair, isolated consulting groups or team-specific coaching pods have a tendency to lose effectiveness over time. They’re also vulnerable to being lost during organizational restructuring.
Instead, it is recommended to create an internal coaching center of excellence and staff it with coaches trained on the specific needs of the organization. This might include extra training on inter-generational team dynamics, cross-border integrations, or work/life boundary issues. It all depends on what the organization itself is going through and where strategic support is going to make a critical difference. The internal coaching team can thus anticipate challenges, lean on institutional knowledge to help workers manage through the challenges, and help the entire company stay one step ahead rather than reactively providing coaching while in “crisis mode” with teams.
For companies that are early in their coaching journey, creating this kind of center of excellence can feel like a big investment. However, ready access to knowledgeable coaches can reduce team turnover and provide much-needed boosts to engagement and productivity, offsetting the costs of the coaching group. For companies further along the path, refreshing the commitment to coaching with a dedicated center of excellence can help build out the capability to be something that truly supports and mitigates ongoing pain points or opportunity zones within the firm.
TIP #3: BUILD SUPPORT FOR THE COACHING TEAM INTO LONG-RANGE CORPORATE PLANS
A final step in building out a sustainable coaching function is to be sure to include support for the coaching team in the organization’s long-term planning. This includes adequate budgeting for staff and continuing education, but also bringing the coaching resources into plans for change, personnel development, and even mergers and acquisitions.
For firms still early in the coaching experience, it may feel strange to add another stakeholder to the planning committee. However, well-trained coaches are going to be able to help planning teams anticipate and get ahead of upcoming problems, saving significant amounts of time, stress, and money for the organization, according to research from BetterUp. Further studies by Tracy Sinclair for organizations with more mature coaching capabilities note that including coaching teams in one year, three year, and 10-year plans can help firms build more achievable visions for success and create organizations better positioned to hit key future milestones for growth and profitability.
While coaching can be treated as an isolated event or selective remedial tool, the organizations that benefit the most from coaching are those that invest in sustainable coaching models. Expanding coaching to everyone (and making it routine), investing in centers of excellence, and giving coaching teams a seat at the long-range planning table can help new and experienced organizations build better coaching functions. As a result, these organizations can expect that rather than a one-off investment that fades away, it is possible to build and grow the corporate coaching capability into something truly sustainable and useful.