What is the purpose of coaching in the workplace?

23rd August by Lee Robertson

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What is the purpose of coaching in the workplace?

Executive coaching is widely recognised as an effective business tool, but we make no bones about it, the flexibility coaching offers in how it is used is often still misunderstood. Here we take a look at the purpose of coaching in the workplace.

Executive and team coaching can leverage performance in a multitude of workplace situations, but we need to enlarge our perspective of what coaching can help with. Here are just some of the topics where its application can make big positive and transformational changes for the individual, team, and organisation in question.

1 Coaching around change management initiatives

If there is one thing we have learned since early 2020, it is that uncertainty plays havoc with strategy, routine and order. The pandemic has demonstrated that when it comes to working with change, the need for clear communication, transparency, clarity, and empathy are key when faced with the unknown.

When coaching is used in the context of change management it is all about building resilience, capability, and preparation for periods where there will be some adjustment required. It is also used to foster a culture where people are less resistant to change because they have a better grasp of what is expected of them. Behaviour rooted in being afraid of change can be avoided and quashed with clear communication and honesty from senior leaders as to why these changes are necessary.

2 Coaching for career development

From informal coaching conversations with a team leader or line manager to more formalised sessions with an external or internal coach, coaching is one of the most powerful ways of tapping into an individual’s strengths and abilities.

Used to support the ongoing development of your people, coaching can benefit everyone from your graduate scheme hires right through to the CEO and executive team at Board level. Coaching is commonly utilised to ease new leaders into more senior roles and can be a mainstay of an organisation’s succession planning. It helps individuals to be more resourceful, to move forward more quickly and work on those aspects of their development where they need a little extra help to build confidence.

3 Coaching those returning to the workforce

Coaching is an efficient way of helping people returning to work after a long absence from situations such as maternity leave, sabbatical, redundancy, or illness.

Coming back to work after a lengthy period away can be daunting, overwhelming, and even difficult. Coaching can be introduced here to help individuals effectively reactivate, connect again with the routine of work, create an action plan to get back on track, focus on the challenges they feel anxious about and clarify what is expected from them and in turn, what they expect from the employer.

4 Coaching for team alignment, clarity, and shared direction

Teaming is increasingly being held up as the new ideal of leadership as more executives see the merits of working collaboratively rather than in silos. As such, the demand for team coaches is growing at a rapid pace.

The science behind what makes good teams effective and successful is becoming better understood and team coaching can be essential in bringing newly formed teams together or for aligning them on purpose, direction, and goal setting. With so many hidden dynamics involved in putting great teams together, coaching can be invaluable in ensuring relationships are at their very best and that trust, psychological safety and respect truly bind them together.

5 Coaching to become a better manager

Ever heard the term accidental manager? Poor management can be a costly and damaging situation with top performers leaving great jobs simply because they are unhappy in their relationship with their manager.

Equipping your team leaders and line managers with coaching skills can be an astute investment and make a positive impression on your talent retention rates, performance levels and reputation as an employer. In giving managers coaching skills, you are endowing them with the ability to empower their colleagues and direct reports to be at their very peak.

Managers who use a coaching style of leading others are hugely instrumental in delivering a positive experience and working environment for your employees. Using honed interpersonal skills and having regular coaching conversations to manage performance and development, they can create the space, safety, and time to enable individuals to do their best work and flourish. 

It is wide of the mark to think that coaching is a ‘just in time’ solution. It is complementary of continuous learning and much more future orientated than many of us truly realise or appreciate. It is about investing in sound and valuable ways of ensuring that your people are developing to be at their optimum in their purpose, motivation, resilience, and performance. Just think, where is the hidden potential in your organisation? What could coaching help your people and business achieve?