Organisational Coaching Culture and People Productivity 

#People Productivity @ Engage for Success 16th September 2020

Fiona Anderson, Hagit Amsterdam, Sarah Pass, Jill Munden, Scott Rolph and Nicholas Wardle

In September the #PeopleProductivity TAG looked at how strong the case is for a coaching culture.

Jill Munden, from My Change Expert, opened the discussions, looking at how we best achieve people productivity, focusing on the organisational perspective and in particular, what part coaching can play in enhancing people productivity.

Watch a recording of the event

Organisations are dealing with some of the biggest challenges they have ever experienced in this VUCA world. The complexity of planning and decision-making in this volatile and uncertain environment is like never before and there is enormous ambiguity everywhere we look. VUCA has turned into VUCA3 within a very short space of time!

The pandemic arrived at overwhelming speed and enormous scale – organisations couldn’t afford to stand still – they had to make high-stake decisions rapidly and without the “perfect” information they would normally wait for. Some organisations have been seen to implement what was an 18 month change programme, in the space of just 3 months. They have introduced new priorities and ways of working to be more flexible and agile. Involving more people, elevating their decision-making authority at every level across the organisation, empowering them to make smarter decisions without sacrificing speed. To thrive, organisations need their people to be curious, open to challenging the status quo, creative and doing things in new ways every day.

In a nutshell, organisations need their people to be productive and agile.

So a key question for organisations to consider:

are you creating the environment which is enabling your people to be productive and agile?

In our July People Productivity conversation, we asked people the question, “When are you at your most productive? These are the key themes they come up with:

  • When I’m empowered to take ownership
  • When I have a voice and I’m listened to
  • When I’m encouraged to experiment and be creative without fear of blame
  • When my strengths are valued and fully utilized
  • When I feel connected and aligned to values/purpose
  • When I’m able to bring my whole self to work

This is where the link with coaching comes in!

If you consider coaching in simple terms as a style of communication. It is the opposite end of the spectrum from directive styles of communication such as, when you need to brief somebody on a new project, you would be directive and “tell” them what needs to be done because it’s new. Conversely, if a direct report or a colleague had an issue, if you knew they had the knowledge/ experience to resolve it themselves, you might choose to coach them. In other words, you would ask them questions, listen, summarise what you’ve heard and help facilitate their thinking to support them to come up with the solution.

When coaching is used to help somebody tap into their own resources and capability, they will undoubtedly feel more confident (as opposed to just being told what to do) and will ultimately feel more empowered, energized and engaged.

This is the exact state that people said they need to be in, to be most productive!

There is a lack of up-to-date research in the use and value of coaching across organisations, so I reference a study that the ILM carried out in 2011. They found that 80% of organisations surveyed had used or were using coaching and a further 9% likely to use coaching over the following 3 years. I think it would be safe to say that in 2020 that over 90% of organisations use coaching and recognise the benefits. The ILM study found 95% of respondents saw direct benefits to the organisation and 96% saw benefits to the individual. The benefits reported included improvements in communication and interpersonal skills, leadership and management, conflict resolution, personal confidence, attitudes and motivation, management performance as well as preparation for a new role or promotion.

Evaluation of the value of coaching varies, the ILM study showed that 93% of surveyed organisations measure coaching outcomes and 49% assess against business KPI’s and goals. A study into Executive Coaching by Manchester Inc, showed a ROI of almost 6 times the cost of the coaching and productivity was one of the highest reported benefits.

We can conclude that there are wide ranging benefits of coaching for organisations, which clearly includes productivity so, how can they leverage this value further?

The scope of coaching can evolve from using it for senior leaders right the way through to creating a systemic coaching culture, that permeates internally and externally to all stakeholders. In our September People Productivity conversation, we asked attendees where their organisation was on the evolution of coaching. The feedback showed that over 50% were around the midway point whereby they were using coaching, not just for managers and leaders but for facilitating team performance too. There was only 7% who reported being fully evolved at the systemic coaching culture end of the spectrum.

We also asked our attendees what their top priorities would be to further evolve coaching within their organisation and these were some of the most popular answers:

  • Create a strong business case based on the “why” coaching is important
  • Create an appetite and energy for coaching
  • Get senior buy-in and ensure they are walking the talk
  • Start with one department to evidence the value
  • Share great stories of success
  • Identify small steps and the specific behaviours required
  • Focus on values
  • Embed behaviours such as transparency, allowing people to make mistakes
  • Find coaching champions who are already embedding it into everyday practice
  • Provide more opportunities for coaching development
  • Create simple videos on the “how” of coaching and coaching demos
  • Upskill and invest in development such that everyone is coached and is a coach

The second question we asked was what barriers might they encounter on their journey of coaching development?

  • Lack of buy-in from senior leaders/managers
  • “Yet another programme”!
  • Managers not trusting their staff
  • People at different stages of their personal evolution
  • Inconsistent culture – some ready and others not
  • Great internal coaches moving on too quickly
  • Silo behaviour
  • The go-to response is fire-fighting – don’t stop to consider that they could coach
  • Allocating quality time
  • Maintaining longer-term focus rather than being distracted by the next objective
  • Commitment/belief that coaching conversations are kept confidential

Some great input and there’s no doubt that there were similar themes coming up across the organisations represented in this session.

As a coach, I can’t help but leave you with one last question!

What step could you take to help your organisation to grow its own highly productive coaching culture, with the resources that it already has?

Jill Munden

Find out more about the #PeopleProductivity TAG

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