Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, goes the old proverb. This is the main premise of high-performance coaching, where instead of providing new knowledge and skills to employees, the coach helps them use their established skills more effectively.
“High-performance coaching is aimed at improving the coachee’s ability to achieve work-related goals such as specific metric-based organisational outcomes,” says Wade Azmy, CEO of Pharos Coaching. It involves the articulation of desired levels of performance and pathways to achieve those goals, he says.
A high-performance work culture grows from employees feeling satisfaction and growth in their roles, says Amanda Moody, Assistant Director, Professional Development Centre, British Council, Singapore. “Solid relationships between managers and their employees help promote motivation, feelings of well-being and connection. Coaching is an excellent tool to develop these qualities.”
According to Moody, coaching encourages managers to work in a closer and more connected way with employees and to engage in conversations with their staff about the specific aspects of their work. For example, it enables managers to find out what their employees want to learn in their current roles, what issues or difficulties they are experiencing, and what areas they would like to grow and develop in, she explains.
Professor Richard Arvey, Head of the Department of Management and Organisation, NUS Business School, concurs. “A coach can also provide feedback in terms of the kinds of priorities that are involved, including the time management skills of an employee, the communication skills of the employee, and also the kinds of attitudes held by the employee that might hinder work performance.”
Training in high-performance coaching is particularly useful for new managers trying to find their bearings in an organisation. It starts them off with the correct tools and methods to develop and extend their interpersonal skills, and their ability to work with others, says Moody. At coaching courses offered by the British Council, new managers practice questioning skills to help their employees define their goals, clarify their current reality, generate options, as well as identify barriers to their goals. “We encourage participants to practice their coaching technique with managers from other companies.”
High-performance coaching also enables managers to pick up a host of other skills, like learning how to react to difficult situations, change management, and risk assessment. Overall, they improve their strategic thinking skills in relation to business issues, says Wade from Pharos Coaching, which conducts joint programmes on coaching and leadership with SIM Professional Development.
Once a new manager becomes an effective coach, he or she can help employees become empowered by respecting their knowledge and capacity, as well as reminding them of their strengths and affirming their ability to think for themselves. “It is important that the coach resists the urge to prescribe what or how to do something, but rather draws upon the thinking of the employee to generate solutions and understand their choices and the consequences of their behaviour,” says Moody.
As with any learning and development initiative, HR needs to be able to show the return on investment (ROI) of its coaching programmes.
Coaching involves a personal relationship between the coach and the employee and therefore it is important that the employee feels empowered and supported in their work, says Moody. “The employee should also respect their coach and want to learn from their coach.”
According to Moody, regular informal dialogue with the employee and the coach is a useful method to gauge the effectiveness and satisfaction of the relationship. “In addition, collecting some written feedback from both the coach and the employee with specific focus questions is an opportunity for the coach and the employee to reflect on the quality and success of their relationship and the completion of agreed goals.”
HR can also conduct skills and competencies assessments, observe behavioural changes, use organisational metrics and trend analyses, and conduct benefit-cost analysis to measure results, says Wade.
Core coaching skills
• Goal setting and alignment
• Understanding and handling change
• Ability to apply cognitive and behavioural approaches to facilitate performance enhancements
• Self-regulation and development of will power
• Solution-focused approach
• Reflective skills
Source: Pharos Coaching
Barriers to successful coaching
Coaches should avoid the following pitfalls:
• Fixing problems for employees
• Micro-coaching experienced employees
• Not monitoring the coaching goals of new employees
• Not explaining what coaching is, how it works and clarifying roles with the employee
• Doing the work for the employee
• Not providing positive and critical feedback
• Agreeing on coaching goals which are not stretched enough – too easy or too far
• Instructing the coachee what to do, rather than involving them in the solution and process
• Ignoring incomplete goals
• Confusing the roles of mentor, counsellor and coach
• Not listening to the employee for understanding
• Asking only closed questions
• Talking more than the employee during the coaching conversation
• Not allowing time for the coaching process
• Confusing coaching, counselling and mentoring methods
Source: British Council Singapore
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