The Why and How of Business Coaching
Can Business Coaching Increase Employee Flexibility?
Having employees who are flexible and willing to tackle different situations is tremendously beneficial for a business.
Tasks often crop up which may require immediate attention, but are not actually in anyone's job description, or those responsible are currently absent through illness or on holiday. Outside assistance might be required, and it may be the case that production has to cease whilst they are summoned, leading to a loss of both time and money for the company. So can business coaching be utilised to increase the flexibility and willingness of employees to go above and beyond in the workplace?
One of the major factors in having flexible employees is their happiness, with their morale and motivation often a key determinant as to whether they will deviate from the activities written down in their job description. Those who are unhappy and poorly motivated will usually operate based on a more work-to-rule attitude. They will not particularly care about the overall success of the company and so will not be willing to do anything which they do not specifically have to do as part of their job role.
This is in contrast to those employees who are highly motivated and do care about the success of the company, especially as a successful company will be more likely to continue trading and so keep those employees in their enjoyable/rewarding job! They will be more willing to pitch in and help out when they can to facilitate the smooth operation of the business than somebody who does not particularly care about whether the company succeeds or fails.
So how does business coaching help? One of the most prominent reasons for engaging in business coaching is to allow managers and their employee(s) to discuss issues which are preventing them from fulfilling their potential at work. A large part of this comes down to their motivation and actual desire to succeed both in their own career development and for the accomplishment of the organisation's goals. Without this desire, objectives are likely to remain unfulfilled on both sides.
Engaging in business coaching will provide a forum for the open and frank discussion of the reasons as to why an employee is not more motivated at work. As a result, these issues can be addressed and hopefully resolved so that the employee will be much happier in the workplace, and be more productive and flexible as a consequence. It will also allow them to state their objections to being given a task which is outside of their job remit, from where negotiations can take place to see if this impasse can be amicably resolved.
Business Coaching Gets Employees to Work Harder
Successful Business Coaching Gets Employees to Work Harder
Often without realising it, an employee who is receiving business coaching will end up working harder than they did previous to embarking upon it.
This is because a good business coach will guide the worker towards largely coming up with ideas, goals, targets and action plans to overcome metaphorical barriers themselves rather than simply providing all the answers or telling them what they should be doing. As a result the employee feels a sense of ownership and responsibility for ensuring that the targets and plans that were discussed - which they themselves largely suggested - are successfully enacted and achieved.
In stark contrast to a worker being told what to do and then dragging their heels and rebelling because they disagree with it or resent being told to do it, they will feel empowered because they are acting upon their own suggestions and ideas, and will be highly-motivated to make it/them a success.
Short Term Time Pain for a Long Term Gain
A manager who provides business coaching to an employee will initially have to take time out of their own working day, not to mention taking their employee off of the projects that they are working on, which may cause disruption in the short term, but longer term will provide massive benefits to the manager who will not only have a motivated, empowered and hard-working employee, but also one who is better at using their own initiative and finding the solutions to problems themselves without running to the manager and asking for their help every time a small issue crops up at work.
Why Define Parameters?
Set Clear Guidelines From The Start
When delegating tasks to employees it is vital that a manager defines the parameters before the person commences work on it, otherwise they risk going off at a tangent and completing work which is not acceptable in terms of that which the manager required. This can result in the need for the entire task to be started again from scratch after effectively wasting a lot of time and/or money on the first attempt.
Having to Start Again Will Cause De-Motivation and Mean Time Has Been Wasted
Not only will it waste time, but an employee is likely to become extremely disheartened and demotivated if they are told that what they have done is not correct, and is a sure-fire way of stifling any desire from them to have other work delegated to them in the future for fear of doing it wrong again.
Business Coaching Needs to Play a Part at Every Step of the Process
By performing business coaching both before and during a delegated project, the manager can define the parameters and boundaries, as well as clearly setting out the expected outcomes. It is also a good idea to engage in business coaching sessions after completion too in order to discuss what went well and what could have gone better in order to make the next time smoother. The business coaching meetings before and during the project give the employee a dedicated forum in which to ask questions and clarify points, rather than trying to catch a manager as they rush around doing other jobs for example.
Parameters and Guidelines are There to Stop Employees Causing Issues for the Company
These parameters can be any boundaries or constraints which the employee should not cross, at least without getting permission from the manager beforehand. There are a large number of possibilities, but the most common are likely to include time limits/deadlines, budget and how much (if any) other resources the employee can use in terms of taking other personnel from the department or company to assist them with the task. As each project is likely to be different, so too will the various parameters in place which is why open discussions in business coaching meetings are so important for success.
Keeping Calm Under Pressure
Many managers will set out with the good intention of being the type of boss who leads through inspiring their employees and earning their respect by trusting them to use their own initiative and sort problems themselves. A lot of managers will also accomplish this feat, but this will usually be when the going is good and there is not much to worry about.
When times are hard, or in exceptionally busy periods where time is critical, the vast majority of managers will forget everything they have learnt and been practising since their business coaching training and will revert back into the authoritarian "do it this way or else" style of management. Whether it be the stress of the situation, or thinking that they can do it faster, many managers will stop delegating tasks and try and do everything themselves again.
As well as tasks, attention can also be an issue. A manager who has made a determined effort to show appreciation for the efforts of their workers, but at other times snaps at people or has no time for their queries will quickly lose credibility as a boss who leads by influencing others. In some ways it would be better for them to always be dictatorial as at least everybody would know where they stood, but the inconsistency of sometimes being receptive and other times not leads to confusion and hesitation amongst employees as to whether they should approach the manager or not with any questions they may have.
By building positive working relationships with their employees, the manager will not only find that those they are responsible for will try harder and be willing to go the extra mile, but that they will also lose far fewer who seek a better working environment at a different company.
Business Coaching and Non-Technical Skills
Employees Need Other Abilities Such as Good Interpersonal Skills
For employees to be truly effective in the workplace, especially if they are in quite a senior role within the organisation, they will not only require the technical skills and ability to perform the various tasks but will also need to have other facets to their character such as their dedication, commitment, work ethic and ability to integrate and work within a team.
Without this, all of the knowledge and technical skills in the world will only take them so far in their career.
Business Coaching will be More Appropriate than Training Courses for These Skills
Whereas training courses will primarily be more suitable for teaching technical skills and teaching information about issues such as how to do a particular task or regarding a topic such as health and safety, business coaching will be suited more to developing and discussing the importance of these more interpersonal skills.
A Qualified Business Coach Can Provide Much Greater Benefit
For those individuals who have a definite ambition to progress far in their career, they are likely to benefit greatly from business coaching sessions from a qualified business coach who holds a professional coaching qualification like the ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring which will help them work more professionally and to overcome the issues which are holding them back in their career.
Managers Have a Big Role to Play in Employee Skills Development
Managers will play a significant part in this development; even more so if they are the ones providing the coaching to an employee within their particular department of the business.
Aside from the quality of the coaching and mentoring they provide, one of the most important things they can do is to set the example of the work ethic, professionalism and dedication which they desire from their employees.
If they demand this from their staff members but are then seen to act like it does not apply to them, workers will resent the hypocrisy and begin to not only think that it is not important because the manager does not act this way, but may also actually rebel and not act in a professional manner as a protest.
Use Past Experiences When Business Coaching
Open-Ended Questions Get the Dialogue Flowing
In many business coaching sessions the coach will ask open-ended questions in order to get the person receiving the coaching to offer suggestions and begin thinking through problems in order to come up with the solutions largely by themselves, rather than the coach simply providing all the answers for them.
Sometimes the employee will struggle to come up with a response, for if they knew the answers then they would most likely have done it in the workplace already. Even with the support and assistance of an experienced business coach, they may still find it hard to think of something to say.
Has the Individual Faced a Similar Problem Before?
But before the coach intervenes by making their own suggestions, they should explore the possibility of the person having faced a similar problem in the past without realising or remembering it. This is more likely if the person in question has a lot of experience in business or a similar industry, as opposed to a fresh-faced graduate straight out of university.
By asking probing and open-ended questions about similar circumstances and issues that the person has encountered in their career, the coach will hopefully get them to remember what worked before or what did not go so well. They can then use this as a basis for a discussion to utilise the good parts and dismiss or adapt the ideas that did not work last time.
Bad Ideas in Business Coaching
Business Coaching Should Help Individuals Propose Solutions by Themselves
When providing business coaching to a person you want them to come up with their own suggestions and ideas for solving problems and overcoming the issues which are holding them back or preventing them from fulfilling their maximum potential in the workplace. Business coaching is not about the coach providing all the answers like a training course, but instead aims to support individuals to largely determine solutions and come up with ideas and suggestions by themselves, as this will result in much greater motivation and determination to achieve them if the person feels that they are their ideas rather than being dictated to by managers.
Are There Any Bad Suggestions?
So what should the coach do when the person comes up with a bad idea or suggestion? Well, for starters, there are no real bad ideas or suggestions. A significant part of the business coaching process is getting the person to speak up with their own thoughts, as ultimately most managers would like employees who can take responsibility and sort out issues themselves without having to bother the manager with every little problem that they encounter. One of the hardest parts of a business coaching session is usually getting the person to offer their own thoughts for fear of being wrong. This means that the coach needs to do everything possible to facilitate and encourage the person to share their thoughts, which definitely means not telling them that they are wrong or screwing up their nose or anything like that!
Using Business Coaching to Analyse and Refine Suggestions
Along with the idea generation, another important element of business coaching is the process of analysing and refining suggestions, as once the person feels comfortable with this process they should hopefully do it for themselves in the workplace and become more self-sufficient than relying on their manager to tell them what to do all the time.
So when the person makes a suggestion in the meeting which the coach thinks is bad, rather than just saying so they should analyse, discuss and evaluate it with the person who should then reach the conclusion for themselves that the idea would not work as well as they originally thought.
When the key is idea generation and analysis, there are no bad ones, only opportunities for discussion.
Business Coaching for You
Along with providing courses which help you to develop the skills to become a successful business coach, here at the BCF Group we also have experienced business coaches who provide coaching to individuals from a great variety of industries and with different levels of responsibility.
Just as individual team members require coaching from their line manager, the managers themselves will also benefit tremendously from having a business coach with which to discuss their current issues and to set realistic targets and goals for their short-term and long-term future.
Having business coaching sessions with a coach who is external to the business will allow the person being coached to talk freely and openly about issues without the fear that they will cause offence to anyone in the business or that what they say may somehow get back to certain people within the organisation, which is a real risk if they were being coached by a manager from the same company.
Business coaching is a highly personalised method of professional development, which means every individual will have different needs and requirements.
Further down this page there are sections which provide information on certain groups and types of coaching such as executive coaching and team coaching, but quite often it is better to discuss your particular needs and current/future work role with one of our experienced business coaches so that they can provide tailored advice and action plans.
To get in touch, please call us on 0844 800 3295 or send us an online contact form.
Please click on a heading below to find out more about that particular aspect of business coaching:
Executive coaching takes the business coaching process to the boardroom, and is designed for busy company directors and senior managers.
The sessions can be scheduled to fit in with your workplace and personal commitments, taking place at a time and place to suit you.
Achieve rapid results with individual, personalised 1-2-1 business coaching sessions which focus entirely on you and your requirements.
Our experienced business coaches can assist you in overcoming workplace problems or issues, as well as preparing you for change and future roles.
Being able to coach employees is an extremely useful ability for any manager to get the best out of their team.
Our Coaching and Mentoring for Managers course will cover a variety of important skills and topics to turn a current or soon-to-be manager into an effective coach and mentor.