As the demographics and expectations of the average worker change, more and more companies are transitioning from an old-school hierarchy structure to a flat, fluid,or network organizations. This new structure allows for unprecedented collaboration, but similar to its predecessor, it can grow stale and fall into a rut over time.
Fortunately, leaders can prevent this from hamstringing their companies by stimulating one of the qualities most innate to human beings: their desire to grow, learn, and do new things.
Without actively promoting and encouraging employees to evolve, they can stagnate. When individuals stagnate, so does the entire tribe. This is where coaching comes in. Coaching encourages improvement and rejuvenation in a way that paves the road for everyone to win.
How does coaching work?
At the heart of coaching is the belief that people are trying their best. This means that coaching is not a vehicle for telling employees what to do. The goal is to move toward self-determination so they can operate autonomously to move the company strategy forward.
Coaching is also not about chastising or critiquing. It is about creating a path forward in the company for an individual that is plotted out based on the combination of data scores and an understanding of what the employee wants and needs, and how that relates to the company strategy. This is not a haphazard process; it is focused on individual needs triangulated with strategic objectives.
Coaching primarily serves two main functions in service to the company strategy: it resolves some of the network connection blips that show up on the organizational network analysis, and it provides a channel through which employees can grow outside of a traditional corporate ladder. Coaches will collaborate with one another to understand which skills are important to the company and share these skills with their team members. Coaching for effective employee growth will drive the natural evolution of a company with a focus on the strategy.
Once you decide you need coaching in your business, how do you put it into practice?
One approach is to set up different coaching teams for every department or network in your business. The size of these teams will depend upon the size of your company.
Coaching with Bots: An example
I built automated processes, or “bots,” to help apply coaching across the entire company. Each week the bot would reach out to ask for a quick update from everyone. The bot would then deliver this update to the coach. By facilitating this discussion, the bots helped make the endeavor more efficient.
With help from the bots, each live coaching session required that employees talk through their progress on individual development objectives with their coach. This enabled me to accommodate about eight objectives each week for a total of about two hours. Most of the people I coached had one or two objectives, enabling me to help five to eight people.
Coaching cycle & Coaches
The coaching cycle works in conjunction with a comprehensive feedback cycle, with employees selecting new objectives every quarter. Quarterly iterations also fit well with the business cycle, since public companies post their earnings quarterly.
Team members should rotate coaches every quarter, unless there is a specific reason not to, such as working through goals that take two quarters to complete rather than one. Six months is as long as you want to stretch it, though. Without this rotation, it becomes all too easy to fall into a more traditional manager-direct report dynamic.
Rotation is also important because it offers different perspectives. One of the biggest weaknesses with the hierarchy is that you are putting your career growth in the hands of someone who brings exactly one perspective on how to be awesome—your manager. When it comes to medical advice, we are always encouraged to obtain a second opinion, but when it comes to career growth, we are told that our manager is the only person whose opinion matters.
The logistics of what coaching entails will vary from one employee to the next, from one quarter to the next.
Better business results: With improve individual performance
Coaching improves business results because it helps each team member work to their maximum potential and toward the company’s strategy without the corrosive effect of positional power.
It is a highly effective long-term strategy and not the short-term tactical approach that managers shoot for by looking at work as piecemeal, one project at a time.
Instead, they are growing employees and cultivating their skills so that their business results improve over the long run, thus improving strategy execution quarter after quarter.
By making coaching an essential part of your organizational structure, you’ll have a system in place that ensures continual improvement. With focused guidance for your employees and a comprehensive feedback cycle, everyone on your team will be better positioned to advance your strategic goals.