Today, managers are encouraged to be facilitators and coaches who empower people to share a common vision
The real work of a leader is helping those who do not immediately recognize the need or opportunity to improve
A manager’s role has changed drastically over the past decade. Managers need to be groomed and coached to become facilitators and coaches themselves
Trends in the last decade have changed the traditional role of managers in an organization. Customer expectations are increasing and organizations are working with tighter budgets. In this environment, making the best use of employees’ skills, knowledge and abilities is more critical than ever before. In this backdrop, focus on employee mentoring and employee development will reap great benefits.
While training is an essential tool in honing skills, it may not always be able to address behaviors of an employee. Behaviors are formed through spaced repetition over a period of time. Hence, to change old behaviors or to reinforce new ones, will require the same process of repetition and application. To meet this challenge, most organizations are redefining and expanding the role of managers. Today, managers are encouraged to be facilitators and coaches who empower people to share a common vision. Whether an executive of a MNC, a key team leader or CEO of a small growing business, leaders at all levels can benefit from the tremendous growth power of executive coaching.
Coaching, as a practice for leadership development, has flourished in the last few years. It is being used both as a remedial solution to an existing challenge that an employee faces, and as a developmental tool for a high-potential individual to handle bigger challenges and responsibilities.
True coaching is a tri-partite partnership between the coach, the executive and the organization. Each partner has an obligation and the responsibility to contribute to the success of the coaching process. Although a major contribution comes from the coach and the executive, coaching is generally an organizational intervention and hence, needs to be within the context of the organizational goals. Through this process, it is very important to achieve identified business results. Facilitating a behavioral change impacts the business results and hence it is easier to measure the effectiveness of a coaching intervention by tracking a very quantifiable goal.
The first step of coaching is setting a developmental objective with the employee. Setting a goal or objective provides a target to focus our daily behaviors and activities on. Objectives should be SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. Effective managerial coaches are able to delegate and empower more, to create a stronger sense of purpose within the team and to motivate the performance of others. Even more important, perhaps, is that they free up time so that they can focus on the more important tasks, instead of doing jobs that could be done by their direct reports. The stark reality, however, is that most managers put very little effort into coaching.
Coaching provides leaders with powerful, tested, and practical skills that help them define direction. But a lot of internal and external factors could change each time you set out on a coaching journey. Good judgment, common sense, and an understanding of the person, are needed to gain maximum effectiveness from each interaction.
Coaching is a continuous process and should be thought of as an investment. Unlike seminars and workshops, coaching includes action-oriented sessions held on a regular basis to implement behavioral changes that produce measurable results. Participants begin immediate application of techniques designed to change behavior and develop habits necessary to achieve predetermined goals. These coaching sessions reinforce their commitment to business and personal goals
In coaching, time is an important ingredient and requires the discipline to manage priorities and business demands that leaders face today. There is always a risk that someone could feel hurt or take offense when you focus on some element of his or her performance. Do not take reactions personally. Rather, one should be more concerned if people do not react, and seem indifferent.
Finally, the coach must be patient and persistent as change is often slow for people. The real work of a leader is helping those who do not immediately recognize the need or opportunity to improve. Keep in mind that as a coach one needs to be good for them and not to them. Not everyone takes kindly to being coached. It may take considerable tact and perseverance to help someone to accept help. Whether someone is willing to be coached or not, may depend on the approach you adopt with them. Most people need time to process and grasp the magnitude of what you are conveying to them.
Increasing Productivity in Sales: A Case Study
The CEO of a transportation-outsourcing company that provides services to manufacturing and retail companies wanted to take the company to the next level. Although revenue was good, the sales team was not generating enough new business and hence the business was plateaued. The challenge was that of increasing revenue by hiring new productive employees and retaining them. There was a continuous turnover of sales people, which was not only inhibiting sales but also proving to be costly. Much of the management’s time was being spent on recurring operational and client issues.
The following concerns were shared with the coach
• Flat revenue for last 2-3 years and inability to plan the next steps for the company’s growth
• Miscommunication and conflicts among the existing people in the company, leading to drop in service levels
• Retention of good sales people
The LMI assessment tool was introduced to explain the importance of focusing on determining employee strengths to get the right-fit. Members of the sales team were evaluated and their responsibilities were then divided into two groups - account managers who cater to the existing clients and the consultants who get in the new business.
LMI’s Group Coaching Program was conducted for the two groups - the senior leadership team including the CEO, and the second group consisted of their immediate subordinates (sales heads). Coaching was conducted for both groups simultaneously, as a weekly intervention, once a week, over a period of ten weeks, which focused on improving performance through change in behaviors using spaced repetition; application and retention of concepts; multi-sensory impact as a tool for internalization of concepts; and weekly tracking mechanism to measure impact on business in terms of quantifiable results.
A self-analysis of work habits was conducted to create awareness of some behaviors that could be affecting personal productivity at work. Special attention was paid to behaviors affecting time management, communication, delegation, empowerment, team productivity and effectiveness. Participants were encouraged to implement changes on a weekly basis and track and measure results vis-a-vis the set goals.
The coaching intervention saw the following results:
• Customer satisfaction level improved by 25 percent and continued to remain stable even after 1.5 years.
• A total of 11 new clients acquired against the goal of 10 in the first year leading to a 20 percent jump in revenue.
• Four new sales people were employed during the time and three retained.
• An additional service was introduced.
Other benefits of the coaching intervention included, noticeable improvement in communication; renewed clarity of direction; decision making process shortened; and goals clearly defined at all levels for the next 5 years.
Monica Doshi is the Managing Director of Leadership Management India (LMI)