Rediscovering old heritage: Sridhar Ganesh
How matured is the concept of ‘executive coaching’ in India?
Historically, India has always been very close to the concept of coaching as the metaphor of “guru-shishya parampara” is something that we in India have had as a very unique practice. In embracing more modern methods suitable for ‘collective’ learning, we had lost it a bit in recent times. We are rediscovering this heritage!
The current concept of executive coaching is still in a very nascent stage in the corporate world. However, the good news is that both corporates and individuals are starting to recognize its impact and relevance as a method of facilitating, learning, development and performance.
What is the role of a coach? How does it contribute to business productivity? When is coaching useful/required?
The role of a coach is to facilitate and help a person to learn, develop and enhance performance.
I believe it is a significant part of the 30 percent in my ‘40-30-20-10’ rule on learning and development, where the 30 percent refers to learning through a developmental relationship. The 40 percent of learning happens through specifically designed challenges in work assignment; 20 percent through life experiences and 10 percent is through training courseware and conventional training.
In recent times, there is increasing acceptance of the significance of this ‘developmental relationship’ as a powerful process to unlock the potential of individuals.
How well is this understood by companies?
Companies at the ‘intellect’ level understand the role of coaching and the value it brings to business. But the problem lies in making it happen. Demonstrating coaching behaviors, which is distinct from ‘telling’ behaviors, is an art and needs a strong belief system to put it into action. We need more commitment at the top to make this a long term investment. There are really no shortcuts and we have to believe in it to make it happen. We are getting there but not there yet!
What is the ‘coaching style’ that you have adopted and why does it work best for you?
I am a practicing coach for more than a decade now, and I believe that coaching is a facilitative role where there is no advising. It is about listening and the art of asking the right questions. This is what helps in the unfolding process and slowly, but surely, will unlock the potential of the ‘coachee’. My focus is towards helping an individual to mobilize and be able to see multiple options/new opportunities for both at the learning level as well as at the performance level. To me, coaching is relationship centered, and largely rests on the quality of the relatedness between the coachee and the coach.
What are the other methodologies in training? And how do organizations know which methodology will work best for their purpose?
As I said before, learning and development is most effective when it is learning through experience (40 percent impact, according to me). The classroom training and course work (10% impact) is good if it is ‘knowledge’ focused. Organizations, along with the individuals, ought to spend more time reviewing, understanding and deciding on what exactly is required to be learnt or improved first and we then need to look for an appropriate method to get that learning or improvement. Alas, my experience has been that we do not spend the quality time on this exercise and quickly get to the solution. This is a great pity as it really never works that way.
What are the challenges in ensuring success of a coaching exercise?
The biggest challenge is in enabling the engagement between the coach and coachee, and ensuring that they share a trusting and respectful relationship. It is this relationship that forms the foundation of a successful coaching exercise. Another challenge is the ability of the coach to maintain a balance – that is, being interested and at the same time, detached enough, to help the coachee to self-discover the answers.
What is the future of coaching in India?
Coaching, in the near future, will become increasingly prominent as a practice. I envisage that organizations, will invest lot of time and resources in nurturing coaches internally as well as fostering a culture of learning through increased coaching relationships. Coaching has the power to energize and build tremendous momentum in an organization.
Sridhar Ganesh is Director - HR, and Lead Director - Diversified Business Group, Murugappa Group