Aligning Coaching with Strategic Priorities

In theory, coaching can be a powerful way to shift behaviour, increase engagement, enhance thinking and generally make a difference to the way people do business and the way businesses can succeed.

But it may not be working.

Consider these sad survey results:

  • One in four (23%) thought coaching had significantly affected their job performance
  • Only 20% felt it had significantly contributed to their job satisfaction
  • More than half of the respondents (60%) said coaching had slight, little or no impact on their job performance
  • 10% even said coaching had made them less satisfied with their jobs!

If the very goal of most organizational coaching is to connect people with purpose, passion and priorities, then what has gone so terribly, terribly wrong?

Coaching skills need to be embedded within the organization. In a landmark 2000 Harvard Business Review study, Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results, research discovered that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company’s bottom-line profitability. Goleman noted, “Although the coaching style may not scream “bottom-line results,” it delivers them.”

Each and every manager should be equipped with the coaching skills needed to engage their teams in the work that matters. Sounds simple enough, but the leap from theory to practice is proving tricky.

One of the main reasons is that time-crunched managers are finding it difficult to translate the skills learned in a coaching workshop to the their day-to-day work life. One-off training sessions are a pretty lousy way of trying to shift ingrained behaviours. Let’s face it – if you’ve behaving in a certain way (let me tell you what to do/let me solve that for you) for the last 5 – 40 years and getting rewarded for it, 6 hours in a classroom is unlikely to have much effect.

For coaching to serve a business objective, it has to be useful on both a personal level, an organizational level and on an everyday basis.

What’s in It for Me?

There needs to be personal context, or more bluntly: how will this help me and my work? Getting managers to see how coaching can be not just another thing to add to the to-do list, but rather a way of actually reducing their own workload while increasing the focus on their own ‘great work’ builds the likelihood of it being a tool that’s used.

Show the Business Context

Here at Box of Crayons, we’ve found that enhancing coaching skills works best when it’s serving a specific business purpose – for instance, building team resilience before a corporate re-branding and reorganization, increasing key customer retention or reducing the churn of front-line sales staff. Context allows managers to see coaching as a support and a solution – and not just the latest HR trend.

Facing the Time-Crunched Reality

There are ways and means of creating a program that is connected to the strategic priorities of the organization – one that acknowledges the reality of most managers’ working “time-crunched” lives. Good coaching isn’t (and shouldn’t be) touchy-feely. It allows managers to move from “solution providers” to “solution enablers”.


Leave a Reply