When we start talking about coaching, the first image that comes to mind is sports (for most of us, at least). All sport clubs have coaches who guide and motivate their players to succeed. Coaches advise their players, create game plans with them, give feedback on their performance and help them grow and become better athletes and better individuals.
Just like sport teams, business teams need coaches to help them grow and succeed as well. It seems like nowadays, more and more companies are opening up to coaching practices. They started realizing the potential of coaching and its importance when it comes to performance, growth and development. In this article, I’ll be exploring the connection between coaching and employee performance. We’ll look at what performance coaching is and why it should be done. Also, I’ll list several benefits of coaching for performance which help create stronger individuals and teams and ultimately help you drive your business forward.
What Is Coaching for Performance?
Coaching for performance is a coaching method used to identify areas of improvement when it comes to employee performance. However, not only does it identify gaps, but it also creates a learning and growth plan in order to close those gaps in employee performance.
This process involves open communication, encouraging and acknowledging good behavior and getting employees back on track. It also involves challenging team members to encourage growth and learning and holding them accountable for setting and achieving their goals.
Who Can Coach for Performance?
Some companies have internal coaches who have been trained to do this job. Nevertheless, a company can hire an external coach to improve employee performance as well. Finally, if you’re not in a position to work with a professional coach, any team leader can do this as well. All that’s needed is a bit of training in order for the leader to understand how effective coaching works and how to do it properly.
For example, one of the most important things in coaching is creating a safe environment and building trust. So, if team members don’t trust a leader, the first step would be to change that situation. Otherwise, having such a person coach others could be detrimental to the business.
What Is the Purpose of Coaching in the Workplace?
One of the reasons you may want to introduce coaching in the workplace is to improve employee performance. As we’ll see further in the text, there are many aspects that coaches cover when they’re coaching for performance as many factors influence the results an employee presents during his or her working hours.
In addition to performance, coaching is used in the workplace to create stronger bonds between teams, help team members resolve issues when it comes to communication, teamwork, personal and professional growth, etc. Finally, it gives employees a better understanding of how their growth fits into the company growth. In return, that clarity enables them to become more effective and efficient contributors in the workplace.
How Can Coaching Improve Performance?
As mentioned above, coaching for performance incorporates many aspects of one’s professional life. The areas listed below are just a few, but there are many others that can be included in the list.
Personally, I believe that the greatest advantage of coaching for performance is the clarity it gives employees when it comes to their place in the organization. That alone enables employees to better define their goals, motivates them to contribute more and be more effective, thus turning workers into leaders and advocates of change. According to Forbes:
68% of workers say training and development is the most important workplace policy.Ed Ross
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how coaching helps improve employee performance.
A performance coach drives self-awareness among team members by providing feedback on behaviors, practices, and the results they produce. The insights and opportunities for improvement can help employees understand how to better achieve their goals.CMOE
With time, employees will learn how to check on their practices and results on their own. They will be able to assess whether their processes are contributing to the company goals or not (and if not, how to change them). Additionally, through their experience with the coach, they will learn how to provide feedback for their team members as well, thus developing a skill they will benefit from in the long run (more on feedback later in the text).
What’s important here is that the coach demonstrates self-awareness as well. By sharing examples from experience (either personal or from working with others), the coach is demonstrating the process itself, which can later be mirrored by team members. Finally, by asking for feedback on his or her own coaching practice, the coach shows the team what self-awareness looks like in practice.
Develops Problem-Solving Skills
Working with a coach means answering a lot of questions. Coaches share their experiences and offer feedback, but usually, coaches are there to observe, listen and ask questions whereas the coachee is the one coming up with answers. This leans back onto the self-awareness part mentioned above: we will remember things we’re told, but we’ll definitely stop and think about things we figured out on our own.
As employees work with a coach, they learn how to detect and define problems. Yet, more importantly, they learn how to approach the problem in order to solve it. Developing problem-solving skills and critical thinking will benefit not only the employee but the company as well because the culture of problem solving (and not problem searching) is the one that goes above and beyond.
Improves Feedback and Open Communication
86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.Todd Kunsman
I have met so many people who claim to know how to give and receive feedback, but in practice it turned out to be the complete opposite. Even though it is not rocket science, knowing how to give and receive feedback is a form of art: there are patterns to be followed and it requires practice. Of course, as with any other skill, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
When leaders and managers take the time to sit down with employees and talk openly with them, it builds trust. Building trust with employees makes them feel more comfortable to share their honest thoughts or opinions.Unboxed
Working with a coach gives employees ample opportunities to give and receive feedback. In order to set the right goals, employees will have to be forthcoming with their interests, which direction they’d like to take when it comes to professional development, etc.
Furthermore, being comfortable to speak up enables employees to share their pain points, ideas and suggestions and makes them more involved and interested in the company’s growth. Developing such a culture takes time, but you can always start with one person at a time.
Helps Reach More Goals
Coaches love setting goals, at least I do. It is such a powerful motivation for people because it gives them a direction, something to look forward to. In addition, the point of improving employee performance is to be able to produce better results (among other things). Now, how can a coach help?
Easy. The first step in the coaching process is to set goals. In case an employee doesn’t know how to set goals or doesn’t set goals in the right way, the coach is there to help. Through the coaching process, an employee can learn how to ask the right questions and what to consider to set more meaningful goals that align with the company’s goals and direction.
Then, the coach is there to hold employees accountable for their actions in order to achieve those goals. This helps employees stay on point and on the right track. What is more, it helps reduce procrastination, thus leading to achieving goals more effectively and efficiently.
Increases Employee Engagement
Employees who know that they’re taken care of are more likely to invest themselves into work. Regular one-on-ones encourage employees to take action and participate in building the company. Employees tend to take a more active role in the workplace if they know that their efforts are being acknowledged and appreciated. And what better way to show employees that you care about them than to help them work on their personal and professional development.
Enhances Ability to Coach Others
Through challenges and learning experiences that the coaching process offers, employees tend to change their perspective. As they work on their own improvement, many realize the benefits of coaching and are more willing to share that knowledge. Furthermore, they’re more willing to use the newly gained skills to help others grow. Having a positive experience with coaching can go a long way and have incredible positive effects on the overall growth of both employees and the employer.
Only when you can teach, do you really understand something. Being willing to set time aside to teach is such a blessing and a step in the right direction for any company planning to scale and grow.
If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend setting up a coaching practice in your company. As I already mentioned, you don’t have to have a professional coach to do it, but for maximum effect, I’d encourage you to give a chance to someone who’s got the knowledge and experience to help you and your team move in the right direction.
If you’re not sure whether this would be the right approach for you and/or your company, you can start small: get a personal coach and test it for yourself. This will help you gain insight in the process and experience it on your own before deciding whether it is a good fit for your company.
Either way, give it a go. With a good coach, an impartial person you feel comfortable with and can trust, you can do incredible things. Still not sure? Well, you won’t know until you try.