Education and communication around ‘coaching' in order to build stakeholder buy-in helps in ensuring that coaching is an ‘investment in potential'
At the Adityta Birla Group (ABG), while all managers have a responsibility to coach their direct reports, focused coaching is adopted to leverage the potential in specific individuals. When executive coaching was introduced in the Group, some thought it was a status symbol, some found it remedial and some felt that it was a sign of weakness to have a coach and therefore not talk about it.
Today, coaching has come of age at ABG and is seen as a tool that aims to optimize the capabilities of leaders by helping them build clarity around their motivations/aspirations, facilitating in bringing about positive change in the leadership behaviors to be more effective.
Coaching at ABG happens across the leadership pool. There are internal ABG certified coaches who are part of the ABG Coach Certification Program run by the in-house learning centre, Gyanodaya, and external executive coaches are introduced depending on the need.
The ABG executive coaching process is spread over 8-10 months, with around 10-12 individual coaching sessions. There is a rigorous selection process to empanel external executive coaches globally which is refreshed periodically based on experiences and results which is monitored actively.
The ratio of face-to-face coaching to telephonic coaching is around 30:70. Coaching needs are identified at the Group or business level for leaders as an outcome of the talent reviews or succession planning processes, transition support needs, performance enhancement requests as the case maybe.
While executive coaching is not a panacea for all problems and issues, it is certainly a tool which supports leadership development. The challenge is to sustain this change over a period of time and across the organization. It is important to maintain utmost confidentiality to build the required trust for a successful coaching relationship. Further, the business involvement and commitment is key to getting the desired outcomes and behavior change. Education and communication around ‘coaching’ to build stakeholder buy-in helps in ensuring that coaching is an ‘investment on potential’ and not necessarily ‘remedial’. The “chemistry meeting”, that is, letting the leader choose the coach builds comfort, commitment and willingness in the coachee to participate in the process. Further, systematic tracking and monitoring which includes a pre and post 360 degree feedback, coaching goal alignment session with the line heads, mid-review and closure are critical to measure progress. A critical factor is the ‘bias for action and behavioral change’ that the leader is willing to demonstrate post the coaching sessions. Behavioral change at the senior leadership level has a direct impact on the business.
Dr. Santrupt Misra is Director, Group HR & CEO, Carbon Black Business, Aditya Birla Group