Benefits of Coaching for Individuals, Teams and Organisations
A Gallup poll in 2019 showed that employee engagement in US organisations is at an all-time high since 2000. Employee engagement is a measure of how involved, enthusiastic and committed employees are about the organisation they work for and is a very good indicator of high performance. Organisations with high levels of employee engagement not only perform better, they also have improved customer relations as well as attracting new ones, and have higher staff retention, which keeps talent in the organisation and recruitment costs down.
Gallup has completed nine meta-analyses of the relationship between team engagement and performance over the past two decades. The most recent study included more than 82,000 teams in 230 organisations (about 1.8 million employees) across 49 industries and in 73 different countries. Gallop’s extensive research makes it clear that high employee engagement is driven by organisations creating high development cultures, defined as those with:
- Strong, clear leadership which demonstrates personal accountability and organisational values
- Line managers and team leaders adopting an empowering coaching style
- Communication that allows sharing of learning, best practice and innovation at all organisational levels
- Expectation of high performance and personal effort, supported through coaching, training, development and engaging staff practices
None of this will come as a surprise. It clearly supports the view that the most effective, engaging and high-performance organisational cultures are those which nurture talent, develop all staff, expect individual responsibility and personal contribution, and encourage learning and sharing.
Coaching is a proven and highly effective approach to creating this kind of high-performance culture, because coaching is all about creating raised awareness and generating personal responsibility and commitment. The benefits can be seen at all levels:
Benefits of coaching
At the organisational level, a coaching culture (and leadership behaviours which exemplify it) can produce significant measurable benefits both in terms of employee engagement and enjoyment, leading to improved performance and results.
A coaching culture can:
- Develop commitment to develop potential and talent through the organisation
- Improve organisational performance
- Increase speed of learning, creativity, and knowledge sharing
- Motivate and engage staff
- Facilitate the adoption and sustaining of a new culture/management style
- Improve relationships and communication between people and departments
and break down silos
- Improve staff retention and reduces recruitment costs
- Improve overall performance and bottom-line results
Organisations with these characteristics are more adaptable, more able to flex with changing circumstances and acquire shared learning faster. Decisions are taken lower in the organisation; response times are faster and customer experience tends to be better as employees feel more empowered to take decisions on the front line. This is a formula for success.
Most teams do not perform to their full potential. In a high-performance team, there is a synergistic effect, that is, the team is much more effective than just the sum of the individuals in it. As a rule of thumb, less than 10% of teams rate themselves as high performing before starting a team coaching engagement. A team coach can work with a team over a specified time – perhaps 9 to 12 months – to help the individuals in the team develop trusting and committed relationships with each other, behaviours which then lead to high performance. All teams are comprised of individuals and the team coaching process supports each individual to be willing, able and committed to change through the coaching process in alignment with their team colleagues who will also be on the same change curve, though possibly at different positions on it.
Team coaching is usually best driven by an organisational need which defines specific, desired measurable results in a limited time frame. This gives a ‘we’re all in this together, including the team leader’ focus which facilitates a team bond and common ground for openness, honesty and change. Teams can achieve outstanding performance improvements when coached in this way, creating a unique culture of mutual respect and commitment between team members and allowing new ways of working, creativity, and innate talent to shine through.
It is part of the line manager’s role to coach their staff. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to manage too, but coaching is a very distinct activity which calls for the manager to listen, question, and to allow the individual to think through problems and work issues for themselves. This is a process of raising awareness and generating responsibility which demonstrates that the manager/coach has both high expectations of and regard for the individual and that they have the capability to find their own solutions to work issues.
Managers who work in this coaching way with their staff nearly always find that there is:
- Improvement in individual overall performance
- Increased willingness to learn and develop new skills
- Increased ability to identify solutions to problems and work-related issues
- Greater ownership and personal responsibility
- More openness to feedback and change
- More positive attitude towards colleagues
- Greater clarity in roles and objectives
From the individual coachee’ s perspective, having a line manager who has coaching skills is hugely beneficial. As a coachee, I get the benefit to think for myself, to make my own choices about how I approach my work and work issues (within appropriate limits) and to feel understood and appreciated as a responsible person who has the capacity and skill to think and act independently. As an individual, this will enhance my sense of being a valued and trusted employee and will improve my relationship with my manager as time progresses. It also will give me the confidence to stretch my own assumed limitations and to take more enjoyment from my work.
With all these benefits for organisation, team and individuals, developing and sustaining a coaching culture must be a primary consideration for any organisation needing to survive and prosper in an increasing VUCA landscape. Ultimately, people are a key competitive advantage that an organisation has. When a coaching culture is unleashed and people are able to provide full engagement, commitment and discretionary effort, there is nothing that cannot be achieved.