workplace-coaching
Coach­ing and men­tor­ing in the work­place is being used by more and more com­pa­nies instead of more tra­di­tion­al, less effec­tive skill devel­op­ment strate­gies like attend­ing sem­i­nars and courses.

The rea­son is sim­ple: The more time you invest into your employ­ees the quick­er they’ll devel­op. The quick­er they devel­op, the faster your busi­ness will grow.

Com­pa­nies that place their staff at the cen­tre of their busi­ness devel­op­ment strat­e­gy will pro­duce a pas­sion­ate work­force, who are more will­ing to learn and improve and are more loy­al because they actu­al­ly enjoy their jobs and the peo­ple they work with.

Effec­tive coach­ing in the work­place how­ev­er, is no easy task. Depend­ing on the nature of your busi­ness, you’ll soon­er or lat­er come across some well-known chal­lenges. Being aware of these chal­lenges and know­ing how to approach them is cru­cial to the suc­cess of your new coach­ing and men­tor­ing ini­tia­tive. Con­tin­ue read­ing to get a head start.

In this article:

  1. 4 most com­mon coach­ing prob­lems expe­ri­enced by companies
  2. Ben­e­fits of coach­ing and men­tor­ing in the workplace
  3. How to deliv­er more effec­tive coach­ing — Coach­ing tips for managers

4 most common coaching problems experienced by companies

1. Time and Distance

Most types of work coach­ing require some ele­ment of trav­el and a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time com­mit­ment. Espe­cial­ly if the work­place coach­ing you’re doing involves trav­el­ling to mul­ti­ple locations.

Hav­ing col­lab­o­rat­ed and worked with many com­pa­nies over the years, we’ve had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to observe the most effi­cient ways to solve the issue of time and dis­tance when coach­ing in the workplace.

These are what we’ve found to be the best ways to opti­mise this process:

Encourage your teams to coach each other

This reduces the amount of reliance on your man­age­ment team for coach­ing, whilst also cre­at­ing an organ­ic learn­ing community.

Many organ­i­sa­tions are mov­ing to a mod­el of com­mu­ni­ty based learn­ing and peer coach­ing, which allows teams to pass on intrin­sic, job-relat­ed knowl­edge that oth­er­wise would be impos­si­ble to do with­out the expe­ri­ence of the indi­vid­u­als in your team.

Use video-conferencing to coach remotely and flexibly

As the world moves more and more online, video-con­fer­enc­ing has become the new boardroom.

The flex­i­bil­i­ty of remote, online men­tor­ing and coach­ing is a huge time and mon­ey saver. By using video calls you can con­duct coach­ing ses­sions with­out phys­i­cal­ly need­ing to be in the office.

Addi­tion­al­ly, you also don’t require your team to be in one place. Allow­ing for effec­tive coach­ing, no mat­ter where you and your employ­ees are located.

Use video recording for remote observation and feedback

Coach­ing and men­tor­ing in the work­place typ­i­cal­ly involves a lot of obser­va­tion and feed­back of  your employ­ees’ skills. These types of skills might include:

  • Phone eti­quette
  • Sales train­ing
  • Pre­sen­ta­tion skills
  • Man­age­ment skills
  • Oth­er prac­ti­cal tasks both off and on-screen

Tra­di­tion­al in-per­son obser­va­tion involves a great deal of plan­ning, time and resource man­age­ment. When dis­cussing the hap­pen­ings after­wards, feed­back might be dif­fi­cult to relate to as it was per­ceived dif­fer­ent­ly by the coach and the coachee. By video-record­ing these tasks instead, feed­back becomes con­tex­tu­alised and objec­tive, mak­ing it far more effec­tive for your employ­ees’ pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment. And the best part — it can be time-shift­ed and com­plete­ly loca­tion independent.

On record­ed video, feed­back can be giv­en either as a voice-over, in the form of time-stamped com­ments or in real-time while play­ing the record­ing back with the employ­ee on a video-con­fer­ence call.

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2. Lack of objectivity and interpersonal skills

With in-per­son obser­va­tion and feed­back you’re con­tend­ing with gaps in under­stand­ing and mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion as out­lined above, because your employ­ee won’t always be able to recall every detail of their task that might need addressing.

This can result in dis­agree­ments between coach and coachee on the actu­al details, and when details can’t be agreed then pro­gress­ing past that point becomes far more challenging.

A lack of objec­tive under­stand­ing can result in the employ­ees not enjoy­ing the coach­ing process, espe­cial­ly if the coach lacks inter­per­son­al skills that are required for objec­tive feed­back. Quite often this starts feel­ing more like a per­for­mance man­age­ment task, rather than a skills devel­op­ment task.

There are many exam­ples of how objec­tiv­i­ty and lack of inter­per­son­al skills can hin­der the per­for­mance coach­ing process. You can avoid emo­tion­al fall­out when pro­vid­ing feed­back by fol­low­ing these tips:

  • Encour­age self-reflec­tion - Ask the coachee to think about their task that’s been observed, with the goal of fig­ur­ing out by them­selves what they believe is worth improv­ing on. They are then more like­ly to be pre­pared for feed­back and open to sug­ges­tions they might not have considered.
  • Use evi­dence to sup­port feed­back — When you coach, make sure you use real-life exam­ples of behav­iour in rela­tion to your feed­back. Ide­al­ly real-life exam­ples of the employ­ee that you’re helping.
  • Envi­sion out­comes and progress - One of the best things you as a coach can do for your coachees, is to pro­vide a vision for where you would like them to get to. Pro­vide exam­ples of good prac­tice, suc­cess sto­ries, dis­cuss poten­tial down­falls and pro­vide solu­tions to them before they hap­pen based on your expertise.
  • Respect your employ­ee — The largest issue staff have with com­pa­nies is their lack of empa­thy. Remem­ber that your employ­ees are human beings with their own per­son­al chal­lenges, both at work and at home. Keep these in mind and be car­ing when giv­ing devel­op­men­tal feed­back. Focus on help­ing your coachee to be the best ver­sion of them­selves, rather than sim­ply opti­mis­ing a workforce.

3. Lack of long term planning

We fre­quent­ly encounter the ‘one-off’ per­for­mance coach­ing phe­nom­e­non. Where a coach with lim­it­ed under­stand­ing of the employee’s unique style and process­es tries to pre­ma­ture­ly change cer­tain behav­iour with­out ful­ly con­sid­er­ing the wider con­se­quences of their suggestions.

It’s almost bet­ter not to pro­vide coach­ing if this is the like­ly sce­nario, because you’ll do more harm than good by con­fus­ing and frus­trat­ing your employees.

How to establish a long term coaching strategy

  • Have a plan — There are so many fac­tors that come into play when imple­ment­ing a suc­cess­ful per­for­mance coach­ing pro­gramme. Under­stand­ing how it all fits into the wider scope for the organ­i­sa­tion is key. For exam­ple, estab­lish a reg­u­lar coach­ing sched­ule around exist­ing oblig­a­tions of staff and embed the learn­ing into your organ­i­sa­tion to make it the lan­guage of progress.
  • Track progress — Under­stand­ing the impact of your coach­ing efforts is impor­tant. Know­ing exact­ly what an employ­ee needs assis­tance with and track­ing its progress over the course of your coach­ing cycle will help you make the most of the time you spend coach­ing and men­tor­ing your staff.
  • High­light the ‘why’ — Ensure that your employ­ees know why they are start­ing a coach­ing pro­gramme. Make tar­gets, moti­vate them, and make sure they too can see the out­comes of the coach­ing. A pos­i­tive process means you will have pro-coach­ing advo­cates with­in your com­pa­ny and we all know how pow­er­ful word of mouth can be.

Click here to jump direct­ly to our top 3 coach­ing tips for man­agers.

4. Culture of the company

If you work in a com­pa­ny that gen­er­al­ly pro­motes a top-down approach, with employ­ees being fre­quent­ly told ‘how it’s done’, then your cul­ture may not be right for coach­ing and mentoring.

If lead­ers are unsup­port­ive and often dic­tate tasks that only pro­mote short-term pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, team devel­op­ment tends to be side­lined. The ben­e­fits of coach­ing can only be realised if lead­ers are ready to accept the long-term nature of the process.

So how do you pro­mote a coach­ing and men­tor­ing cul­ture in your organisation?

  • Eval­u­ate your com­pa­ny cul­ture — Your com­pa­ny cul­ture may not be suit­able for coach­ing right now, that’s not to say that you wouldn’t be able to imple­ment it mov­ing for­ward. Start slow by look­ing at your com­pa­ny struc­ture, what lead­er­ship styles do peo­ple use, is there com­pa­ny wide col­lab­o­ra­tion, do you have any key play­ers that could poten­tial­ly start to take on a coach­ing role? Estab­lish a slow and steady plan to evolve into a learn­ing organisation.
  • Make sure every­one knows the ben­e­fits — A change in cul­ture can be dif­fi­cult to imple­ment and can be unset­tling for staff. Ensure that you’re open about your goals as a coach, and get your staff involved in the process by out­lin­ing the ben­e­fits of your initiative.
  • Use a phased approach — Like we men­tioned before, intro­duc­ing a new ini­tia­tive can be unset­tling. So we’d rec­om­mend a phased approach by start­ing with a small­er cohort of coachees as a pilot group which you can then expand. This is a great way of work­ing out the details of your coach­ing ini­tia­tive before mov­ing to the wider organisation.

Benefits of coaching and mentoring in the workplace

If you’ve con­sid­ered and planned for the chal­lenges above, you’re all set to start see­ing a great return of invest­ment on your coach­ing and men­tor­ing initiative.

Unlike more tra­di­tion­al train­ing meth­ods that rely on dis­sem­i­nat­ing infor­ma­tion and hop­ing for the best, coach­ing and men­tor­ing is used to enhance employ­ee knowl­edge and skills on an indi­vid­ual basis rather than a one size fits all approach.

Coach­ing tends to be a more struc­tured approach than men­tor­ing, with more short-term ben­e­fits for imme­di­ate gains. Men­tor­ing, how­ev­er, is a rela­tion­ship which devel­ops more slow­ly over time and can last for years. Both help your staff gain the expe­ri­ence to achieve long-term career goals.

So let’s look at poten­tial out­comes you can see as a result of an effec­tive coach­ing and men­tor­ing strategy:

Improved staff retention

Staff turnover is cost­ly, and staff that feel under-val­ued or unsup­port­ed, leave. Research shows that coach­ing and men­tor­ing helps to build sup­port­ive rela­tion­ships between col­leagues, leav­ing indi­vid­u­als feel­ing appre­ci­at­ed, empow­ered and invest­ed in.

Using it as a tool for devel­op­ment increas­es job sat­is­fac­tion, improves staff reten­tion and in turn, reduces recruit­ment costs.

Attraction of new employees

If employ­ees have coach­es they can trust, it gives them a first-point of con­tact for any queries. Reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion allows staff to work towards both per­son­al and com­pa­ny goals with a pos­i­tive state of mind. Apply­ing this to your work­place will increase employ­ee engage­ment and put staff well­be­ing at the heart of the com­pa­ny, mak­ing it an even more attrac­tive work­place for new hires.

Accelerated career development

High­ly-struc­tured, one-size-fits-all train­ing pro­grammes are inef­fec­tive at best.

Coach­ing and men­tor­ing takes advan­tage of the knowl­edge and exper­tise of expe­ri­enced staff by giv­ing employ­ees the skills need­ed to meet pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment goals. 

Stud­ies show that staff who work for com­pa­nies that have imple­ment­ed coach­ing and men­tor­ing strate­gies are 5 times more like­ly to be promoted.

Creation of a high performing culture

Employ­ees of com­pa­nies with a strong coach­ing and men­tor­ing cul­ture are more engaged than those at organ­i­sa­tions who are not. They’re able to align their per­son­al goals with com­pa­ny pri­or­i­ties which, in turn, helps to improve both their indi­vid­ual per­for­mance and team efficiency.

Many com­pa­nies are now using coach­ing and men­tor­ing tech­niques to pro­mote a high per­form­ing cul­ture that will give them a com­pet­i­tive edge.

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How to deliver more effective coaching — Coaching tips for managers


Nowa­days, every­one gets some lev­el of coach­ing, whether it’s get­ting you up to speed in your new role or a ful­ly trained coach­ing con­sul­tant who spe­cialis­es in lead­er­ship. Coach­ing is an impor­tant tool to call upon when you need a lit­tle more sup­port or guidance.
Whether you lead a team, men­tor a col­league, or just get asked for friend­ly advice now and then, learn­ing the skills of the trade is valu­able to any­one who helps and sup­ports others.

Our top 3 tips for refin­ing your coach­ing style:

#1 Listen to your coachee

The Inter­na­tion­al Coach Fed­er­a­tion defines active lis­ten­ing as:

“The abil­i­ty to focus com­plete­ly on what the client is say­ing and is not say­ing. To under­stand the mean­ing of what is said in the con­text of the client’s desires. To sup­port client self-expression.”

Coach­ing should not be lim­it­ed to dic­tat­ing feed­back, iden­ti­fy­ing prob­lems and jump­ing to giv­ing advice. Coach­ing should be a shared jour­ney to find solu­tions by work­ing through chal­lenges and obsta­cles, together.

In order to do this well, you need to listen.

It is not your role to inter­ro­gate or solve the prob­lem your­self. Encour­age self-reflec­tion and prob­lem-solv­ing by ask­ing open and prob­ing ques­tions to iden­ti­fy needs and goals. Lis­ten­ing atten­tive­ly allows you to iden­ti­fy feel­ings and empathise with your coachee in a calm and curi­ous manner.

This will help you make a greater impact on your employ­ee because you’ll bet­ter under­stand their beliefs, needs, con­cerns, and perceptions.

Top Tip: Through­out the coach­ing con­ver­sa­tion, sum­marise and para­phrase the con­ver­sa­tion. This will let your coachee know you are engaged in their devel­op­ment, under­stand their needs, and ensure that the con­ver­sa­tion stays on track with your employee’s goals.

#2 Work with your coachee to establish goals

This is your time to cre­ate a frame­work for mea­sur­ing goals and suc­cess­es. It is impor­tant to cre­ate a foun­da­tion for growth oppor­tu­ni­ties that have been iden­ti­fied by your employee.

Decide on the devel­op­ment area, why they would like to devel­op, and what out­comes they feel this will have.

It is also impor­tant to talk about career aspi­ra­tions so that you can build skills that may be use­ful for the future, and ensure that they are invest­ed in devel­op­ing longer-term goals. This is espe­cial­ly impor­tant if you are only coach­ing them for a short peri­od of time, and will make sure they con­tin­ue their devel­op­ment work after you part ways.

Top Tip: Focus­ing on only weak­ness­es when you plan goals can be demo­ti­vat­ing. Only address­ing weak­ness­es sends the wrong mes­sage to your coachee. By focus­ing on strengths, also, can rein­force good behav­iours and fur­ther devel­op their strengths whilst mak­ing them feel valued. 

#3 Provide objective feedback

Objec­tive feed­back con­sists of spe­cif­ic and mea­sur­able points that pro­vide infor­ma­tion about per­for­mance. Objec­tive feed­back is key for encour­ag­ing self-reflection.

As human beings we heav­i­ly rely on sub­jec­tive feed­back when mak­ing deci­sions. How­ev­er, our sub­jec­tive feed­back is often biased and can be influ­enced by a num­ber of fac­tors; includ­ing mem­o­ry, emo­tions, and perception.

For exam­ple, a pes­simistic per­son could feel they per­formed poor­ly, yet their per­for­mance had a num­ber of key strengths they failed to pick up on due to their own sub­jec­tive feedback.

This can often work as a bar­ri­er to suc­cess­ful coach­ing rela­tion­ships, caus­ing the coach and coachee to dis­agree on key per­for­mance aspects.

Objec­tive feed­back is very pow­er­ful as it helps coachees iden­ti­fy where change needs to hap­pen with­out too much inter­fer­ence from the coach. It favours facts and rea­son over thoughts and feel­ings, and gives a clear indi­ca­tion as to why devel­op­ing a cer­tain skill or behav­iour will have a pos­i­tive impact.

When feed­back is pro­vid­ed in this man­ner, the employ­ee is much more like­ly to devel­op their skills and behav­iours accord­ing­ly, while pro­vid­ing their own foun­da­tion for progress.

Top tip! Use video to pro­vide real work­place-based, objec­tive feed­back. Allow your coachee to watch them­selves in action and objec­tive­ly iden­ti­fy key areas of their per­for­mance. Then use open and prob­ing ques­tions to help them high­light the impact of those record­ed behaviours.

Summary

As organ­i­sa­tions we need to under­stand that the peo­ple that work for us are the rea­son we’re able to suc­ceed. Tak­ing care of employ­ees has nev­er been more impor­tant and it should def­i­nite­ly be at the top of all of our to do lists.

“When peo­ple are finan­cial­ly invest­ed, they want a return. When peo­ple are emo­tion­al­ly invest­ed, they want to contribute” 
— Simon Sinek, Author  “Start With Why.”

If you’re estab­lish­ing or revamp­ing your coach­ing pro­gramme, be sure to start with video being your main tool:

  1. Video allows you to coach your employ­ees from any­where, both live and prerecorded.
  2. It’s far eas­i­er to scale your efforts with video because you’re no longer restrict­ed by time or distance.
  3. Using time-stamped com­ments on video is per­fect for con­tex­tu­al­is­ing feed­back, giv­ing you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss cer­tain skills or areas of improve­ment more thor­ough­ly with­out the con­cern of mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion or misunderstanding.

As a nice ben­e­fit, the record­ed videos for coach­ing pur­pos­es can also become their own resource library of exem­plar prac­tice and be an effec­tive tool in itself as staff will recog­nise and iden­ti­fy with the peo­ple they’re watch­ing and more inclined to put what they’ve seen into practice.
 

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Work­place Coach­ing: 4 Com­mon Prob­lems (How To Solve Them)
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