Executive Coaching Works – The Hard Facts That Leaders Must Know About Soft Skills

How business values people is shifting. During the industrial age mindset of the ‘80s management asked: “What does the employee cost the organization?” because the focus was on reducing costs. During the information age mindset of the ‘90s they asked: “What is the employee worth to the organization?” because they were focused on maximizing ROI. Now, the focus is on talent, engagement and unleashing effort, so the question has become: “What is the organization worth to the employee?”

Executive Coaching | Soft SkillsEngaged employees are an asset to business. They stay longer at their company of choice and employee retention drives customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers tend to remain customers and that drives profitability. In The Business Case for Coaching in Organizations by John Lazar, MA, MCC, it was shown that a five% increase in customer loyalty equals a 25% increase in profits. Engaged employees can be up to 50% more productive.

Research shows that there are four categories of factors that contribute to engagement: Job fulfillment, opportunity for growth, recognition for accomplishment and financial rewards. When these four factors are present, the employee is more likely to commit to, and engage in the organization. When an employee commits and engages he or she has probably embraced the goals and direction of the organization and feels a sense of belonging and membership.

For this to be a reality at your company, your organizational culture must include strong leadership, high emotional intelligence and trust. Leadership involves ongoing personal development to be able to deal with the complexities of the new workplace. A leader must be able to listen, influence and establish rapport with people of all levels and roles within the company as well as with clients and suppliers.

This is where coaching enters the scene. Since coaching is a relatively new field, it has taken time to be able to measure return on investment (ROI). Approximately 25% to 40% of Fortune 500 companies use executive coaches, according to the Hay Group, an international human-resources consultancy.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) Global Coaching Client Study Executive Summary (April 2009) reported, “The vast majority (86%) of those able to provide figures to calculate company ROI indicated that their company had at least made their investment back. In fact, almost one-fifth (19%) indicated an ROI of at least 50 times the initial investment while a further 28% saw an ROI of ten to 49 times the investment. The median company return is 700% indicating that typically a company can expect a return of seven times the initial investment.”

A buyer’s guide to finding the right coach.

It is estimated that here are between 30,000 to 80,000 people calling themselves coaches today. Approximately 12,000 to 20,000 are added each year. There are no rules, regulations, laws, restrictions, or enforced codes.

Before hiring a coach, ask about their training and credentials. It is recommended that you look for a coach who has been credentialed by the ICF. This will guarantee that he or she has completed stringent education and experience requirements, and has demonstrated a strong commitment to excellence in coaching. Coaches who have been credentialed by the ICF have received coach-specific training, achieved a designated number of experience hours, and been coached by a mentor coach.

1. Know the values of the organization, communicate them clearly, and communicate them often to everyone throughout the ranks. Solicit feedback to ensure that the message is getting through.

2. Link your coaching process to the core business strategy of the organization. Coaching means that you start with the end in mind and then consciously move in that direction.

3. Build on what works. Discover what is working for members of your organization and use that as the foundation for growth. Include all ranks, departments, and divisions to ensure that you get the full picture.

4. “Be” the culture that you want to see in the organization. The action and attitudes, not the words, of the leaders will be adopted by everyone else throughout the ranks. Remember, walk your talk if you want to see meaningful results.

5. Bring in qualified and credentialed coaches and include them as part of your team to build a coaching culture by working directly with your people on a regular basis. Managers learn a great deal about the coach approach by being coached themselves.

6. Put all of your managers through accredited coach training programs so that they can develop strong coaching skills to use on a daily basis to conduct team and one-on-one meetings. The coaching skills will spread throughout the company naturally and will become the norm for communicating, goal setting, action planning, trouble shooting and achieving results.

7. Ensure that internal and external coaches follow a carefully designed coaching process that aligns actions to desired results. Many professional coaches will adapt their unique processes to your specific needs.

8. Include the use of coaching skills as part of performance expectations in the annual evaluations of managers. What gets measured gets done, so make sure that the coach approach is an expected skill set to be used throughout the management ranks, all the way to the top.

9. Encourage employees to use the coach approach with clients and suppliers to help them build solutions in partnership with your company. This will create a positive experience with external relationships. At the same time, it helps your company showcase its wonderful culture, which is a great thing for attracting top clients and top talent.

10. Always include reviews and discussions around next steps to ensure solid, sustainable growth which is the hallmark of a thriving organization. Ask, what’s working? How do we build on this to get to where we want to go from here?

Corry Robertson (PCC) is an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified corporate and business coach who specializes in leadership development. She is a founding member of The Pillars, a consulting firm providing services in organizational development, change management, executive coaching and communications and human relations.

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