What gets coached is more important than who gets coached

While approaches may change, the principal goal of coaching in organisations is to build a better tomorrow.

This may be built around purpose, transformation, ESG aspirations, agility, retention, or wellbeing – but, ultimately, it’s about how we can be better.

Whether coaching is for improved leadership, interpersonal skills development, problem-solving, nurturing talent, team development, personal growth, or any other reason, the objective is ultimately to facilitate organisational effectiveness, and success, through developing the skills and talents of an organisation’s people.

This means that coaching should be systemic in order for maximum leverage and the fulfillment of an organisation’s strategic direction: coaching should be integrated into the culture as ‘the way we do things around here’ and viewed as a strategic approach to organisational success, not just a tactical way of handling localised performance or development issues.

It is often the case that organisations adopt a piecemeal approach to coaching, selecting individuals to be coached because of their specific development needs or goals. This might be valuable for the individual and their localised team, and will hopefully achieve the result required, but there is much greater potential if coaching interventions are more strategic in approach to fulfill organisation-wide objectives.

To use the analogy of sunlight, it’s vital for everyone to have some, but for the best results organisation-wide, there need to be specific sunbeams, a focus, aimed at creating specific measurable impacts on target areas that have been identified as strategically important, to ensure maximum effect.

The question then, is not who needs coaching, but rather what needs coaching?

Often what happens is that coaching is allocated to high-profile individuals or senior teams, for example, a sales director who might want some coaching on leadership skills.

But organisational coaching needs to be given priority over individual coaching wants.

For example, if an organisation is driving a new customer relationship initiative, then the focus could be coaching the customer service team, above and beyond the day-to-day line management coaching they would otherwise receive. Or, sales team managers might need coaching for the organisation to achieve a specific strategic sales target.

Assuming coaching is taking place in the management line as a part of the ‘way we do things round here’, then any additional coaching resource should be focused on strategic objectives that are critical to the organisation’s success.

This strategic approach and systemic way of utilising coaching is a missing element in the coaching process of many organisations and should be addressed if the potential of coaching is to be unleashed to maximise performance and impact at an organisational level.

Once the strategic question of what needs coaching is answered, it will be fairly obvious who should have coaching. Clear objectives and measures can then be agreed upon with the coachee, coach, and their manager in line with the strategic goals.

In summary, addressing the question of what needs coaching rather than who needs coaching will help position coaching as a strategic organisational resource rather than a tactical development tool.


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