Coaching Professional Development in the Organization

Organizations as well as individuals benefit from coaching in the workplace, where coaching typically focuses on professional development rather than personal life skills. Coaches must understand how to make coaching beneficial to the organization.

Coaching is an important piece of professional development in the workplace. It improves the process of decision making, allows mangers to focus on higher level activities and improves individual job satisfaction. The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

putting together the pieces of coaching

Coaching can be a gratifying experience for both coach and coachee. Coaching in the workplace needs to benefit the organization as well as the individual. Connecting a coaching session to the organization’s agenda without “hijacking” the session (remaining true to the coaching relationship) is an important skill. It allows a manager, who also may step into the role of a coach, to connect coaching to the growth of the individual and the goals of the organization at the same time. 

Organization considerations in coaching

Managers need to incorporate the organization’s needs into employee development. The organization might be grappling with issues like:

  • Business changes (mergers/acquisitions, reorganizations, market opportunities, or product changes)
  • Organization changes (succession planning, leadership/management changes, organizational structure, culture issues, people, policies, processes, etc.)
  • Technology changes (insourcing/outsourcing, new technologies, security, associated skill requirements)

Managers must consider how their staff needs to develop to meet the strategic needs and growth of the company. While hiring from outside may be necessary, promoting internal candidates provides tremendous value to employee morale. Promotion also preserves the organizational knowledge of seasoned staff members, which is priceless.

Connecting Organizational Goals to Coaching:

  • Transparency is important as a best practice.  The coach, coachee, and direct supervisor or manager are on the same page with the goals of the coaching. 
  • The coachee brings their agenda to the session. The coach connects that agenda to both the organizational agenda and the challenges/blocks/barriers the coachee is dealing with at work.
  • The coach walks the coachee through the coaching conversation. [There are several models for coaching conversations available, such as the GROW coaching model.] The coach identifies coachable moments and guides the coachee through removing blocks and barriers.
  • The coach communicates with the supervisor for feedback. Is the supervisor seeing behavioral changes with the coachee that are enhancing their performance, productivity and contribution to the organization?
coaching is a conversation

Organizations typically have tools in place (professional development plans, career paths, etc.) to plan an individual’s progress.  It would be ideal if these tools/plans were also connected to their coaching targets to create connectivity with growth and development.

Organization-focused coaching in the absence of HR tools

If a staff member does not have a Success Map or Professional Development Plan, the coach can use the list below. The coach should ask questions around some of the these general areas to discover gaps and focus on those in the coaching sessions. With this type of coaching, the coach is meeting the needs of the organization and guiding the coachee to identify and solve internal blocks and barriers for improved performance.

What I have found is that typically the same challenges and issues show up in the workplace as blocks/ barriers/challenges for staff members, and these targets can be used for professional development.  Here is my list:

  • Developmental opportunities (management skills, leadership skills, coaching skills)
  • Communication skills (conflict resolution, emotional intelligence)
  • Time management
  • Goal setting
  • Delegation
  • Transitioning from peer to manager
  • Identifying available resources
  • Conflicting priorities
  • Increasing confidence
  • Identifying intrinsic motivators
  • Inter-personal challenges
  • Life balance

In summary:

help people do instead of doing for them
  1. You can connect an organizational goal to coaching without “hijacking” the agenda and thus remain true to the coaching conversation.
  2. Best practices include:
    1. 100% transparency with the coach, coachee, and their direct supervisor/manager.
    2. The coach staying connected with the coachee’s direct manager for accountability and observance of behavioral changes, improvement in performance, attitude, productivity & contribution to the organization
  3. Use organizational HR tools to help with identifying organizational goals for coachee.
    1. Success maps.
    2. Professional development plans.
  4. If the coachee does not have a professional development plan, use the list of typical blocks/challenges to help connect their individual growth to organizational growth.

Leadership Challenge:  Do some research about coaching and the models available, challenge yourself to use coaching with your direct reports for individual growth and development – you just may lower your employee turnover!  Teach your staff to fish!

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