What Can Business Coaching Be Used For?
Business coaching can provide solutions, and have a positive impact, on a wide variety of business issues. A selection of these are outlined below:
Business Coaching to Achieve More from Existing Resources
Getting More From Current Resources
One of the classic objectives which managers have when arranging or providing business coaching for employees is to achieve more from existing levels of resources. Whether these resources are people or materials, getting more out of the current levels will result in greater profit margins and more money for the business, which will make managers and any shareholders exceedingly happy. This is why business coaching and training courses often provide a good return on investment as the cost of providing the coaching and training is more than offset by the increased effectiveness and production as a result of the sessions or courses.
Measuring Success Can Be Difficult
The exact methods as to how more will be achieved from existing resources will vary tremendously depending upon the nature of the company, its industry and what exactly it produces or provides. Output will also vary inter-company between different departments and job roles, as the way a worker will "achieve more" will differ for, say, a shop-floor worker who produces a certain number of items per hour and their line manager who is responsible for organising work schedules. Both will have targets, and both will have their overall effectiveness enhanced through coaching or training courses, but the exact nature and extent of how much they have improved will vary greatly, particularly as measuring improvement may be difficult.
Success from Business Coaching and Training
Even though it may be difficult to do, it is important to try and measure the levels of success achieved during the coaching and training process. This will be easier for some than others, as some improvements can be quantifiably measured whilst others will be of a subjective nature and something which they themselves cannot answer as it will require feedback from their own manager to determine whether there has been a definite improvement or not.
To gauge improvement it is necessary to make an initial assessment before any coaching or training is provided in order to see where the employee is currently at. Only by taking this initial measurement beforehand can accurate assessments of the success and effectiveness of the sessions be made.
Good for Profit, Good for the Environment
Not only is doing more with existing resources good for profit levels, but creating a more efficient workforce which makes fewer mistakes and produces less wastage as a consequence is also highly beneficial for the environment as less raw materials need to be consumed in order to produce the same levels of finished items.
Related Training Courses
NEBOSH Environmental Certificate - As stated above, using less resources can make a significant contribution towards environmental welfare and safeguarding the environment. The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate is one of the most popular courses available for teaching attendees valuable information regarding how their company's operations can negatively affect the environment.
Business Coaching for Dealing with Personal Issues
Reasons for poor performance at work can be many and varied, and come from a number of different sources. Wherever they do come from though, these issues can soon lead to problems which negatively affect the performance of both the individual(s) concerned, as well as that of the company overall.
Consequently there is a requirement for business coaching in order to identify and put right these problems.
Problems in the Workplace
The most obvious and easily identifiable issues are those which are occurring in the workplace, such as disputes and conflicts between two or more employees. Arguments, lack of cooperation/teamworking and maybe even physical violence will all result in lost production and unsatisfactory performance.
Because they are easy problems to identify as they occur right in front of everyone's eyes - including those of management - steps can be taken to resolve the situation. This can either be a punishment such as disciplinary action, or can be a conducted via a softer approach in the form of business coaching. During the coaching sessions, the individual can be reminded of their behaviour and actions, and have it conveyed to them that this is not acceptable going forward. After that, performance plans can be devised which will tackle the issues in order to prevent recurrences and increase the teamworking and performance of these employees.
Much more difficult to detect are problems which are occurring in an employee's personal life that are affecting their work or their attendance. Because they are personal, an employee is likely to try and conceal them from managers, especially if the problems are of an embarrassing nature or they, rightly or wrongly, believe that it may put their job at risk if a manager were to find out.
Business coaching can be even more effective when it comes to curing workplace performance issues caused by personal problems. A one-to-one coaching session will typically provide a more relaxed environment for opening up and discussing what is adversely affecting them and causing them to fall short of their potential at work.
Quite often the consequences will not anything like as severe as the employee feared, and solutions will often be found by managers to accommodate certain matters, particularly if the employee is well thought of and has performed competently in the past before their troubles began. Whether it is an alteration of working hours, a change of job role, relocation to another department or site, or any number of potential remedies, a solution can often be found through open and honest dialogue.
Certain problems may require additional support. For instance, if an employee is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse which is affecting their work or attendance, the company may arrange counselling sessions or other external support in addition to the business coaching meetings. So whilst the employee may have been fearful of losing their job if they did not conceal their personal problem, management in this case were able to provide help to the individual.
Whether or not a company's management would do this is not guaranteed however, and will depend upon many different factors including the past performance of the employee, the availability of others to do their job, how compassionate managers are, how bad the substance abuse is, the nature of the work in which they are employed to do, and many more.
Quite often though, a situation like this cannot go on for long, and the issue will need to be dealt with between the individual and their employer.
Business Coaching to End the Ability versus Issues Trade-Off
Competent employees who cause issues for others prove a headache for managers
A common problem which managers have to frequently deal with throughout their professional career is sorting out issues with employees who are actually very good at their job, but cause conflicts with other members of staff (or, potentially even worse, customers and clients).
It is a simple solution when they cause conflicts and are not that great at the job, as it facilitates an easy decision to terminate their employment. But when they are good at their job and are actually a vital component of the successful functioning of the business, such as being technically gifted or one of the most diligent of workers, a manager will need to weigh up the value of their contribution against the negative impact they have on others.
Whilst in the past this may have resulted either in a definitive decision over whether to let the employee go or put up with them and their detrimental effect on others - both of which will cause damage to the business to some extent - nowadays business coaching provides a way of retaining the problem employee and addressing their impact upon those around them.
How Business Coaching Can Solve The Problem
During a business coaching session the coach can discuss with the individual how their behaviour, attitude, actions and inactions can and do have an impact upon others. It may be the case that they do not realise how they are affecting others, or they may be encountering issues in their personal or professional life which are causing them to act the way they do. It may also be the case that others are in fact instigating the reaction from the person - workplace bullying in extreme cases - and again, discussions with the business coach should get to the bottom of what is going on.
Not only will business coaching serve to identify these matters, it will also provide a forum for the creation of action plans to tackle the destructive issues which are hampering the overall success of the organisation. This is a key element of the remedial process, and one of the main attractions of business coaching as a development instrument. Rather than simply identifying the issues and telling the individual to "go away and work on them", an experienced business coach will actively assist going forward.
By helping the person to change their attitude and behaviour through action plans and performance checklists for example, their overall contribution to the business will be vastly increased.
No matter how good the individuals are in a company, a lack of collaboration and teamworking will significantly limit their potential effectiveness and cause the business to struggle or take longer to achieve its objectives. It is for this reason that business coaching and mentoring has become so popular in recent years in conjunction with other training and development courses.
Business Coaching For Problem Solving
Business Coaching Encourages Employee Initiative
The process of problem solving is a time when the business coach can utilise the questioning method of developing an individual. Instead of giving the person the answers to the issues and queries they have, the coach will put questions to the person receiving the coaching with the intention of having them work through the problem and come up with the answers to the problems themselves. By doing this they will become more and more accustomed to using their own initiative to solve issues rather than bringing every single thing to the attention of the manager and relying on them to provide all of the answers.
A Manager Will Not Have Time to Deal With Every Single Problem
For the majority of employees the safest option is to go to the manager with every problem so that they make the decision. This will be borne out of a fear of doing the wrong thing and incurring the wrath of the manager, or even having the manager available to blame if it all turns out badly as they were the ones that told them to do it in this manner. Workers will feel like they are taking the correct course of action by referring everything to their manager to deal with. Unfortunately many managers will struggle to find enough time to fit all of their own tasks into the working day, nevermind all of the issues that their employees bring to them as well! This means that whilst they would like to be informed of serious issues and have a general eye on what is going on, they would in fact prefer staff to competently tackle problems by themselves and implement a suitable solution and course of action without the manager having to get involved in it at all.
This is where business coaching can prove to be highly beneficial to both the manager in terms of freeing up precious time and less hassle, but also to the employee as it develops their ability to work on their own and solve problems by themselves without requiring assistance.
Business Coaching to Improve Employee Performance
One of the more common reasons for managers to utilise the services of a business coaching company is for the improvement of the performance of their employees. This improvement can relate to one or more areas, including their individual output or their cohesion and productiveness as part of a team.
Whilst business coaching sessions are primarily run on a one-to-one basis where it is just the person and the business coach in the room, it must also be remembered that coaching is also a highly effective method of achieving better integration of individual employees within a team, and when run in conjunction with team building programmes can provide the business with a highly effective and motivated team which can accomplish great things.
This is why we at the BCF Group not only have experienced business coaches, but also highly effective team building and team development experts who have provided such sessions for organisations in locations across the globe.
As well as team building programmes, business coaching is often provided at the same time as training courses. Whilst coaching provides a forum for powerful discussions regarding issues and metaphorical barriers which are preventing a worker, manager or executive reaching their full potential within the workplace, training furnishes them with actual information regarding how to do a task or function more effectively.
Whilst either on their own will nearly always be highly beneficial, providing both training and coaching at the same time will tackle both knowledge and mental aspects relating to the person's role and position within the company, which should result in a highly knowledgeable and effective employee or manager which will obviously benefit the organisation as a whole.
Cost Implications of Coaching and Training
Of course, neither coaching nor training courses come cheap, and providing both at the same time will likely result in a serious level of expense. Whilst large companies may be able to afford this, smaller businesses may struggle to justify such spending. However both business coaching and training should be viewed as an investment, as benefits such as increased effectiveness, productivity and motivation will all contribute in the long-term to the business's overall profit levels which will hopefully cover the cost of the training and coaching many times over.
Business Coaching to Correct Mistakes
Evaluation is Needed No Matter What the Outcome
Whether a project or other such task went well or badly, it is important to take the time to evaluate the results to determine exactly what went right and what could have gone better. However, most of the time this evaluation does not take place. This is because if things went well there will be a feeling that no evaluation is needed as there will be no mistakes to correct, and if things went badly then people will want to forget it and move on as quickly as possible.
Evaluating Negative Outcomes
It is important though that thorough evaluation takes place in both outcomes, whether good or bad. If the outcome has been negative and mistakes have been made, it is essential that lessons are learnt and control measures or safeguards are put into place to prevent such a situation from occurring again. Glossing over what happened and trying to forget about it whilst hoping it will not occur again is not really a viable option for any business who wishes to have a good reputation. Only by addressing the situation and taking positive action can the chances of a repeat be reduced.
Evaluating Positive Outcomes
Evaluation is not just limited to when there is a problem however. Just as it is imperative to determine what went wrong so that it can be avoided, it is also important to find out what went right so that it can be repeated in future and any steps that are taken in the future to try and improve the process do not jeopardise these beneficial components.
Performance Evaluation and Business Coaching
A good business coach will recognise the need for performing thorough evaluation on all actions to see where the person in question could improve, receiving positive feedback for what they did well and constructive suggestions for improvement in the areas that did not meet expectations.
Business Coaching to Gain High Levels of Commitment
Dedicated Employees Make Far Better Workers
A manager will strive to have employees who have high levels of commitment and dedication, both to the organisation itself and to the manager.
Employees who have little motivation will often do a poor job, and wait to be told what to do by the manager. This greatly increases the work load on the manager as not only do they have to make time to explain every little task to their workers, they will also have to waste a lot of time checking, making corrections and re-explaining what needs to be done, and then checking again once the revised version has been completed.
Employees who have high levels of commitment show drive and work hard, often completing a task in a far shorted amount of time than a de-motivated employee. They also have higher levels of initiative, and are likely to devise and implement solutions to problems themselves without bothering the manager. Although it is important that the manager needs to keep an eye on what is happening to make sure that the employee is not going completely off at a tangent, having a worker who solves issues themselves without bothering the manager with every little thing allows the manager to focus more of their attention on other things, which is not only better for their health, but is more conducive to the smooth function and future performance of the specific department or company.
Employees who are committed to the company are also much less likely to look for another job or be tempted away by a head hunter, as they will feel a certain desire to 'see the job through' and be there when the company succeeds fulfils its goals from the seeds which they originally sowed.
Using Business Coaching to Identify Motivation and Commitment Issues
Business coaching can help employees identify issues and problems which are holding them back from being fully committed to the organisation. By overcoming these barriers, the person in question is likely to become more motivated and more willing to work hard and help the company achieve future success.
Business Coaching to Hold Employees to Account
Scheduling Business Coaching Meetings to Initiate and Monitor Employee Change
When managers wish their employees to change, whether it is because their behaviour or attitude is unacceptable or that they wish them to take on more responsibility, it is vital that they not only communicate this message to the employee(s) but that they schedule regular review meetings to ensure that progress is being made.
By holding workers to account and making the effort to check their progress and development in regular business coaching meetings with them, managers prove that they are serious about change and it is not something which was a flash in the pan idea one day that they will soon forget about.
Monitoring Progress and Rewarding Positive Action
Simply telling a worker or misfiring team that they need to change will have very little effect if it is not backed up with regular review sessions to monitor progress and re-evaluate what needs to be done. It is also important for the manager to show recognition and appreciation for the positive steps that have been taken since the last meeting, however small they may be.
By rewarding positive action and behaviour the manager encourages repetition and continuation, and increases the motivation of the employees in question as they feel that their efforts are not going unappreciated or unnoticed.
Making Gradual Changes
Managers also need to take into account that change and transition is often smoother when small steps are taken rather than one big, radical change all in one go. Workers will find it much easier to adapt over a period of time rather than have to endure a monumental upheaval all in one go.
Business Coaching to Tackle Performance Issues
Tackling Problems Early Makes Them Easier to Deal With
When a manager identifies problems and issues with regards to the performance of an employee or a team, they should immediately take steps to remedy the situation rather than letting things go on for a length of time.
Failing to deal swiftly with such occurrences and nip them in the bud as soon as they appear will only result in them growing into bigger problems which has a greater and greater adverse impact upon employee performance, their productivity and ultimately on the profit levels of the business.
How Managers Act Conveys a Message to Employees
A manager who fails to tackle performance issues amongst their employees or a dysfunctional team will give off the impression that they do not particularly care what their employees get up to and that it is acceptable to not give their best for the company.
Using Business Coaching to Solve Problems and Issues
Engaging them in business coaching sessions can be the first step in taking a stand and showing that this behaviour will not be tolerated.
Rather than making a scene or being confrontational with the whole group out in the open, one-to-one business coaching meetings can allow the manager to discuss with the worker about what is happening and why it cannot continue. The manager may even have their eyes opened to the factors which are causing such behaviour that they were not aware of or had not realised.
This means that business coaching can prove extremely useful and beneficial to both employees and managers alike as they attempt to see each other's point of view and can work out resolutions accordingly to situations rather then simply letting things carry on as they are.
Use Business Coaching to Discover What Motivates Employees
All Individuals are Different
A large number of managers make the classic mistake of believing that the same factors which motivated and incentivised them when they worked in the role that their employees are currently in will have the same effect on them as it did on the manager back in the day.
Different People are Motivated by Different Things
It is important that managers and supervisors who are attempting to increase motivation and/or productivity amongst their workforce remember that each individual member of the team will have different factors which motivate them to increase their performance. An incentive scheme which may have a really strong effect on one person may have little effect on another, and may even produce the opposite reaction in that it causes a decrease in desire to work hard on the task in question.
Business Coaching Will Help a Manager Determine What Motivates Their Individual Employees
A highly effective strategy to perform before introducing a blanket incentive scheme is to use business coaching sessions to talk to each member of the team and determine what exactly are their goals and hopes at work, to which bonuses can be tailored towards fulfilling these needs. For example whilst some workers would like additional responsibility and job enrichment or diversity in their job role, others may hate any attempt to alter their normal working day routine (Related Article: Why Does Team Building and Business Coaching Fit Well Together?).
Business Coaching is Not Just for Overcoming Problems
So talking to employees and engaging in business coaching with them can not only be utilised when there are problems or issues which need to be resolved, but can also be an extremely powerful tool at a manager's disposal to help them learn more information about their workforce, which can then be used in trying to increase the performance of a team which is already working well. This can increase the financial profitability of the company which will ultimately be what any commercial organisation will be striving for.
Using Business Coaching to Address Low Output
Low Output Can Be as Big a Problem as Inadequate Quality
A person who is not happy or has certain issues with the workplace or with those who work with/manage them will inevitably struggle to find the motivation to either come to work at all, or produce as much output as they would be able to were their motivation levels much higher.
We have seen in the section below "Using Business Coaching to Tackle Substandard Work" how, as the title suggests, business coaching can be used to address issues which are causing an employee to produce work which is below the standard expected from management. Similarly, business coaching can also be called upon to address low output levels where there is no issue regarding the quality of the work being produced by a particular employee, but the quantity is lower than managers would like.
As such, even though there are no concerns over the quality, the low output is not contributing enough to the business in terms of sales revenue and profit levels for example.
Business Coaching Will Help Determine What the Problems Are
The reasons behind low output are likely to be just the same as that or poor quality, in that the operative is lacking motivation and the desire to want to push themselves towards producing maximum output in order to help the business reach its objectives.
Alternatively, as far as output is concerned, it could also be the case that there are some issues which are physically preventing the employee producing more despite them having high levels of motivation. For example a poorly-designed workstation layout may seriously hamper the worker whilst they go about their duties and prevent them completing tasks much faster.
How Will Business Coaching Help?
Whatever the reason(s), business coaching can get to the bottom of these issues and identify what is preventing the person receiving the coaching from fulfilling their maximum potential for the company. It is a significant driver in the creation of action plans to help tackle these problems which have been raised and identified during the sessions, and can result in considerable gains for the business, not to mention the individual themselves in terms of their personal development, their motivation to come to work, and their overall happiness and well-being.
Using Business Coaching to Tackle Substandard Work
A manager relies upon the output of their employees, and as such has to have a level of trust in their abilities and a belief that they will produce quality work.
Whether they are correct in their assumption or not, managers who believe that the work created by their employees will not be of the desired standard or will contain errors which need correcting will spend a lot of time checking and proofreading the work. In such a scenario, not only will they struggle to find time to do their own tasks, and may as well have done the task themselves if they are going to spend so much time on it anyway, but they will also diminish the confidence and morale of the employee, which will make them even more anxious and prone to making mistakes.
Business coaching has long been a tool used to assist managers to "let go" and be more trusting of their employees, and for individuals who need to improve the quality of their work.
Business Coaching to Combat a Vicious Cycle
Despite the many benefits for managers of delegating tasks to subordinates, they still need to be sure that the employee will carry out the task to an acceptable standard which is free of errors. This requires trust in the worker's abilities, along with allowing them the freedom to get on with the task without constant unrequired interference.
A worker who feels like the manager is watching their every move, consistently scrutinising every aspect of their work and is waiting to pounce upon any mistake will normally end up making more errors, not to mention suffering from a decline in confidence and morale. This can lead to a vicious cycle of increasing errors and increasing frustration from all sides.
Business coaching is frequently used for assisting managers to become better at delegating tasks and allowing employees to get on with them, but also in improving the other side of the coin, i.e. the quality of the work produced by the employee (see below).
Business Coaching for Individuals to Improve Their Work
It is all well and good saying to a manager that they must let go and allow somebody else to do the work, and although not doing this can be a genuine weakness in a manager's skillset, the person they are delegating the work to does actually need to be up to the task given to them.
There is likely to be a need for training and development courses for the staff member with the objective of providing them with the skills they will need to complete the tasks given to them.
In addition to this training, having them attend business coaching sessions with an experienced business coach will allow the individual to discuss in detail the issues which may be the root cause of their mistakes. Often the person does have the ability, or else they would not have been hired for the position in the first place, but there are certain extenuating factors which are causing them to produce substandard work. Business coaching can help to uncover these issues and assist in working to overcome them.
Using Business Coaching to Help Underperforming Employees
Business Coaching Can Be Used for Employees at All Performance Levels
One focus of business coaching is on assisting those employees who are already performing at an acceptable level to push on to the next level and go from 'acceptable' to 'great'.
Just as important though is another group of employees; those who are not reaching the acceptable level of performance and require business coaching sessions with their manager or an external business coach to tackle the problems they are having to get them to the level which management desires.
Determining the Reasons for Underperformance and Potential Solutions
There can be many possible reasons for an employee to be underperforming.
Of course it may be the case that they are simply not suited to the job which they have been recruited to do. Usually though if they have gone through a rigorous recruitment process including interviews, and have past experience of similar positions, then the position will be suitable for them and there are other issues which are holding them back.
A business coaching meeting will allow for the identification of these issues, and should also highlight any requirements for additional training or support which may be required to help the employee with their job performance. Regular sessions will allow for an action plan to be devised which details actions for the employee to do differently and enable evaluations of the success or otherwise of these efforts. They can also be amended and adapted during subsequent meetings to really tailor their effectiveness with the ultimate goal of increasing the employee's effectiveness in the workplace for the achievement of management's expectations.
Business Coaching and Training
It will often be the case that underperforming employees will require both training and business coaching sessions to improve their effectiveness and workplace performance. Whilst one without the other will provide some benefit, engaging in both at once will really assist the employee with their development and their ability to perform.
Business coaching can be useful in identifying training needs to assist with determining which training courses will be of most benefit for advancing the skills of the worker.
Using Business Coaching to Uncover Hidden Talents
Business Coaching Identifies Needs
In articles such as Understanding Employee Needs and Meeting Them we have already seen how business coaching can play a valuable part in not only finding out what employees and managers need and expect from each other in the workplace, but also how the two different sides can work together to come up with action plans which aim to help fulfil these needs more than is currently taking place.
A Manager Can Learn Much More About Their Employees in These Coaching Sessions
But business coaching can also have another additional benefit. During the course of the regular but largely informal discussions that make up business coaching sessions, a manager will often find out more information about their employees than they would ever do if the only time they saw them was when there was a problem or issue to sort out. It can allow the manager to find out interests or abilities which the person has outside of work that could be utilised at work.
Using Business Coaching to Uncover Unknown Skills and Talents
A classic example is a manager who discovers that one of their employees teaches a class or coaches a group in their spare time. This probably means that they have many of the skills required to be an effective trainer and actually get a sense of enjoyment from teaching others. With more training they would probably be able to become an effective trainer teaching others within an organisation such as becoming a health and safety trainer for instance. Not only will it be easier for the business to utilise the existing skills of a current employee instead of finding and taking on an additional person, but it is also likely to increase the happiness of the employee if they are able to do and get paid for something at work which they enjoy doing in their free time!
Utilise Business Coaching to Avoid Employee Dependency
Needy Employees Steal a Lot of a Manager's Time
Many managers fall into the trap of unwittingly creating employees who are dependent upon them for providing every answer or direction regarding what to do. Instead of providing business coaching to workers and getting them to come up with the solutions to small queries themselves, they constantly harass the manager with questions. This culminates in the manager having very little time to do their own work as they spend much of it helping the employee(s) solve problems which ideally they would sort out themselves.
The Best Managers Provide Just Enough Support
There is a fine line between a manager providing too much support and 'micromanaging' an employee, and one who gives off the impression that their office is closed and that employees must fend for themselves in everything. A good manager will also be a business coach who actively encourages workers to seek answers themselves using their own initiative, but also keeps an eye on everything just to make sure that the employee is doing things correctly. If this can be done without the employee knowing then they will not feel like they are constantly being watched and are not trusted.
Encourage Workers to do More for Themselves
A key part of weaning an employee off of the manager's proverbial teat involves encouraging them to provide input into the decision making process whenever they come to the manager with a question or query. By doing this, staff members are more likely to begin thinking of a solution when a problem arises rather than their first thought being to head straight for the manager's office. Whilst initially they may seek approval for their decision, this is a tremendous leap forward and so long as they are empowered to make a decision by the manager, they should eventually take responsibility and solve the problem themselves. Once this process has begun, the employee concerned will often apply these newly-acquired beliefs into virtually every decision, thereby freeing up a large amount of time for the manager to get on with their own work.