How Coaching Can Give Your Organization a Competitive Edge
When it comes to driving organizational performance, the experts agree: If you want to create and deliver the value necessary to establishing a competitive advantage, effective coaching is critical.
In their groundbreaking book The Service-Profit Chain, for example, James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser and Leonard A. Schlesinger described the “new economics of service,” noting that, “Successful service managers pay attention to the factors that drive profitability in this new service paradigm: investment in people, technology that supports front-line workers, revamped recruiting and training practices, and compensation linked to performance for employees at every level.”
As the Service-Profit Chain illustrates, leadership is the first link in the value chain. Employees who believe their managers are committed to understanding and supporting their individual strengths and potential will be more engaged and aligned with organizational goals and objectives. Coaching demonstrates to them that:
- They are valued, and their work is appreciated.
- Their work is meaningful and contributes to the success of the organization and its customers.
- What they do ties to important organizational outcomes, and they are clear about those connections.
- They have a say in what they do and how work gets done.
What’s more, a consistent coaching culture has a multiplier effect, raising not only the level of employee performance and engagement but also the value delivered to customers. As numerous studies have shown, the more engaged your employees are, the more satisfied your customers will be—and you’ll have the bottom-line results to show for it.
Here’s what’s puzzling, though. The research is well established. The Service-Profit Chain isn’t a new concept. So why aren’t more organizations making headway in this area?
In our experience, there are some common barriers that get in the way. For one, while leaders may talk about building a strong coaching culture, managers often struggle to be successful in their role as coaches. Without adequate preparation, training and role-modeling from the top, managers may:
- Confuse coaching with performance management
- Play an overly directive role, not realizing that effective coaching hinges on a two-way conversation
- Have trouble building trust and connecting in a meaningful way with all of their employees
- Downplay the importance of coaching or let other priorities take over
- Come to the table with preconceived beliefs that the employee’s potential is limited (which the employee picks up on and often lives down to)
3 Strategies for Creating a Strong Coaching Culture
Establishing a coaching culture requires an organizational commitment for developing a manager’s ability to coach and, most important, changing deeply embedded behaviors to develop new coaching habits.
Here’s a road map for getting your coaching culture off the ground and making sure it delivers the business and competitive impact you’re looking for.
- Shift mindsets at all levels. This starts at the top:
- Communicate new coaching expectations.
- Assess current leadership styles and their impact on improving performance.
- Develop new, positive attitudes and beliefs about coaching.
- Link desired coaching outcomes to the success of the business.
- Develop coaching capabilities. Equip your managers to:
- Use coaching to balance goal directedness with people development.
- Focus coaching on developing attitudes, beliefs, skills and behaviors.
- Shift an employee’s inner beliefs that inhibit their success.
- Ignite an employee’s ability to be self-motivated through self-discovery.
- Sustain new coaching behaviors and skills. In addition to coaching your coaches to raise the bar on performance, work with and encourage your managers to:
- Develop personal action plans for improving coaching capabilities.
- Increase accountability for coaching frequencies.
- Share practices and learn from colleagues.
Finally, make it a cultural standard to reward and recognize how coaching is affecting organizational success. Let people see the value it’s delivering, both internally and externally.
What’s your game plan?
Don’t assume that just talking about the importance of coaching is enough. Make sure you have the culture, behaviors, beliefs and skills in place so that coaching can truly strengthen your competitive edge.