Coaching for success in a changing business environment
It can take an independent perspective, and proven psychometric techniques, to identify the makings of a successful team or to prepare individuals for challenging new roles or projects. In a volatile business climate, targeted one-to-one support at the right time can pay dividends, says Jeff Jones, Head of HR Services at Konexo.
Like most other HR disciplines, coaching has come a long way in recent years. It is no longer a luxury restricted to senior executives, and its benefits are more widely understood. Psychometric modelling techniques and tools have become more sophisticated and fit for purpose, too.
It stands to reason that if external experts are called in, they need to add visible value above and beyond what companies can achieve themselves. Often, the greatest value professional coaches bring to the table is their neutrality. One step removed from the given situation, they can be much more efficient at helping managers or teams understand and address their more complex challenges.
Using coaching to cope with constant business change
Now, more than ever, organizations are coping with almost constant change. The result is that individuals and teams, at all levels, are continuously being pushed outside of their comfort zones – expected to step up and perform in new and more impactful ways. Whether it is a broadening of individual responsibilities, or the need to form a new taskforce, those closest to the scenario are often the least able to identify potential issues, clashes, challenges and gaps in capability.
Unlike mentoring, which involves leading by experience, coaching provides a safe space for challenging assumptions, and empowering those at the sharp end to work out for themselves where the issues are and how best to tackle them.
Far from assuming a passive role, however, a good executive or development coach will help direct an individual to think about the right things, which in turn is more likely to result in a positive conclusion. Because individuals come away having worked through their own issues and solutions, they are more likely to take ownership of what happens next, and deliver results within a meaningful timeframe.
Psychometric toolkits for business coaching
An experienced coach will be able to bring wisdom from other industries, organizations and contexts, as well as the latest tools to help align outcomes with the broader business agenda. All of which helps to expedite the right results.
At Konexo we use the Odin Development Compass, an efficient psychometric tool which helps distil not only people’s natural strengths and sources of energy (and the opposite), but also any unconscious biases and qualities. These include the more ‘fragile’ strengths that individuals have developed through their careers – characteristics that might lose their form under pressure. For example, a leader who has learnt to be more inclusive and communicative may revert to being introverted and self-reliant when faced with a crisis. By helping to scope this potential up front, the coaching engagement can prompt suitable intervention, a rethinking of the team’s make-up. Likewise, an insight into these types of learned behaviors, or areas that may drain energy, can provide vital clues when seeking to protect the mental welfare of individuals within the team.
Having an experienced, independent perspective, combined with tools to uncover potential issues, gaps or clashes that need to be addressed (whether in individuals’ personal development, or in the shaping of teams), can be the difference between success and failure – with all of the associated ramifications for morale, productivity, talent retention and succession.
Anyone can benefit from business coaching
In 2019, coaching is no longer the preserve of senior teams. It is equally well suited to bringing on junior managers on leadership programs. Not by ‘chalk and talk’, but through practical one-to-one sessions designed to identify, target and work through identified challenges.
Here, we have a large number of experienced coaches, many of whom have worked within HR and Learning & Development at an executive level. These highly accomplished professionals provide expert, targeted coaching services. They are adept at using the Odin Development Compass to encourage better skills matching in teams, and a keener and more holistic appreciation of where – and in what ways – individuals need to challenge themselves.
Ultimately, effective coaching is about empowering individuals to achieve more, and to do this efficiently. So if a new team is formed following an operational re-evaluation, taking a half-day to understand and hone the dynamics, can be very productive and represent money well spent.
The twists and turns of organizational change won’t lose momentum any time soon, especially as technology continues to disrupt fundamental business processes and free up people to focus their time differently. The more that managers and teams are pushed out of their comfort zones and presented with new challenges, the more critical it will be that they have an independent sounding board to help target their development and guide their choices.