Is Your Employee Ready? 6 Steps to Increase Success in a Coaching Engagement
Employees can come with a reluctant mindset to coaching. Your role as a sponsor in a corporate coaching engagement is critical to improve its ROI!
Having a coach is like having a personal champion who challenges and supports you to reach an enhanced version of yourself that you envisioned. But are all employees willing to get coached when they are asked to participate in a Corporate Coaching Engagement?
A professional coach would have a chemistry session at the beginning to assess mutual compatibility (with the coachee); discuss the process; and assess willingness to put in the requisite effort. However, a few programmes still fail purely because of a lack of interest or buy-in from the individual. It later becomes evident that they showed interest and participated in the process because of one or more of these reasons:
• They did not want to say no to their manager despite feeling reluctant.
• They looked at it like a to-do list that needed to be ticked off.
• They were concerned it would otherwise impact their growth prospects in the company.
• They were fascinated at the prospect of telling colleagues they have a coach but were too busy to care.
Your role as the Sponsor / Manager is critical in increasing the chances of success of a corporate coaching engagement. If you, as a leader, have recognised the value of coaching and have decided to enroll your employees into a coaching programme, here are 6 must-dos to improve your ROI and to get your employee better prepared.
1. SPELL OUT THE INTENT: Does your employee know what to expect and why they have been chosen? Of course, the coach will take them through the “whats” of it at the onboarding stage; but before finalising their participation, clarify the intent behind the programme. Personalising the message and tying it to organisational growth can alleviate any potential anxieties for those who worry about the triggers and implications of coaching. In other words, make a case for coaching and why you think it is a good development programme for your employee!
2. PROVIDE A WAY OUT: I remember a friend sharing once that it used to get to him whenever his coach inquired how he was feeling. Does your employee feel comfortable in close one-on-one conversations? Do they resist exploring emotions or visualising future? You may not be aware of these preferences of your employee; so ensure the individual does not feel compelled to participate. The chemistry session with the coach helps address any concerns they might have. But if they are still unsure, provide an easy way out without them worrying about negative consequences. Make them feel empowered to make that decision!
3. CLARITY IN END GOAL: What exactly do you wish for the employee to achieve from the coaching engagement? The coach-coachee duo will collaboratively identify areas or behaviours that need attention through assessments and the like. As the sessions progress, other coachable topics may also emerge. But as their manager, it is important that you point out upfront at least one or two focal areas that can help the employee scale up. This helps raise the individual’s accountability. It becomes even more powerful when you involve them in the process and have an open conversation with them in the coach’s presence; and jointly agree on these goals.
4. RESPECT CONFIDENTIALITY: Make it known to the employee yourself that the confidentiality in the sessions will be respected. Despite giving necessary assurance as the coach, I have had 1 or 2 clients tell me towards the end of engagement that this has weighed on their minds at times. It can hence help to hear it from you as well, as their sponsor. This confidentiality is around what is shared between the coachee and coach during and in between sessions. The coach and your employee would however keep you updated on the progress or lapses in fulfilling contractual terms from either party.
5. TIME AND MIND SPACE: Even for the most driven coachee, unless they have the time and mind space to reflect and make some shift, the entire process ends up becoming transactional. I have had instances where after a few minutes into the session, I have offered to reschedule sensing their rush or overwhelm due to workload. For coaching sessions to be useful, it is important that the individual brings their whole self, and has had the space to reflect, act and be present. Of course, it would be upon the employee to organise themselves and their work. But consider whether you, as their manager, also need to be mindful of this requirement. It might help to either dial their workload down slightly or provide them a bit of practice/reflection time outside of sessions.
6. INVOLVE IN THEIR JOURNEY – Let your employees know that the organisation cares about their success. Most corporate engagements have formal reviews where you would be updated on how the programme is progressing. However, think of some informal ways of being involved too. Like reminding that you are there to support them or acknowledging the small changes they make. The key here is to be proactive and to remember their journey does NOT end with the coaching engagement. Being empathetic when they struggle, and cheerleading when they succeed, will let them know that you and the organisation are not only in it with them, and but also committed to their success.
At the end of it, two main factors that contribute to a successful executive coaching engagement are (a) a motivated individual with an intrinsic desire to evolve, and (b) an involved coach who builds the relationship and nudges them to their goal. The sponsor or the manager is the often overlooked but an extremely critical third factor in this collaboration.
Above are from my first-hand experiences as a coach and points I wish I knew when I had started off a few years back. These are now a mandatory part of my discussions with the sponsors at the contracting stage. By being mindful of the above, be rest assured that YOU have done your part as the sponsor to improve the returns on your investment in coaching.