Coaching in the workplace
All good businesses understand that hiring someone is just the first step in acquiring and retaining a valuable employee. In general, a business’ most effective people are the ones who’ve undergone some form of development within the organisation. This can come in many forms, from training to promotion, but one of the less well understood schools of development is coaching. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what coaching is, why it’s beneficial, and what it should cover.
So what exactly is coaching? Coaching is a long-term process that aims to get the very best out of any given employee. It’s a way of helping them to improve their skills and knowledge, and ultimately get better at doing their job, or work towards one of a higher level. It is however quite different to training or mentoring, and this is why the term is commonly misunderstood. Coaches aren’t there to impart their own knowledge or skills onto the employee, nor are they there to direct the employee in their progression. The process of coaching is one of mutual discussion to help a person get the best out of themselves.
There are many benefits to coaching, both for the employee and of course the employer. In most cases, the benefits for the employee then have a knock-on effect for the business with better productivity and more valuable employees. This is why coaching is increasingly popular in businesses of all sizes. Some of the benefits for employees include the following:
- Improved job-related skills
- Improved relationship-building and conflict resolution
- Improved communication
- Better job satisfaction
- Improved motivation
Now we understand the benefits of coaching, we’re going to take a brief look at how it’s likely to work in practice. In most cases, business leaders will pair an employee with a coach, and it might surprise some to find out that it’s not at all important for the coach to have anything in common with the employee when it comes to day-to-day work. As already mentioned, coaching is more about helping the employee help themselves through their approach and attitude, so coaching skills are more effective than job-specific skills. Empathy, communication, leadership, and general business experience are some of the best qualities for a coach to have.
Regular meetings are the most common format for coaching, and at these meetings, the coach and employee will collaboratively work through a variety of talking points. Generally, the same themes are going to be found in any coaching discussion, and they usually revolve around the following:
- Setting goals - One of the most important parts of coaching is setting goals for the employee. Generally, these are going to be long-term aims for career development, but they can also be shorter term goals, perhaps for particular projects or even building relationships with other people.
- Determining strengths and weaknesses - Coaches can help employees to understand their own strengths, and potentially weaknesses too. This information can then be used to inform other talking points, such as goals or how to approach certain projects or issues.
- Overcoming obstacles - Coach and coachee will discuss how obstacles can be overcome, whether these obstacles are project issues, personal requirements, or even other colleagues.
- Evaluating performance - In order to reach goals, it’s important for performance to be assessed and discussed. Again, this is collaborative - the coach is not there to tell the employee whether they’ve done a good or bad job.
To conclude, coaching is an effective tool for getting the most out of employees. It helps them to be their best without directing them or managing them, and has many benefits. If you’re not already coaching within your business, or you feel like you could benefit from coaching, then look into it as a matter of priority.
Virtual College is pleased to offer a specific course on coaching, which will teach people the skills needed to effectively coach other people and help them reach their best. Click here to find out more about what the course involves. We also offer a number of other online management courses that teach skills useful for those in more senior roles.