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Unlocking employees’ potential with a coaching management style

Unlocking employees’ potential with a coaching management style

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Coaching in leadership and management works as a best practice for leaders in team development and enabling high performance. It can help employees realise their full potential and want to stay with a company. Rachel Wells, Founder and CEO of Rachel Wells Coaching, a company dedicated to unlocking career and leadership potential for Gen Z and millennial professionals, explains how senior leaders can incorporate coaching into their organisational culture.

Coaching as a leadership style has become increasingly popular over the past few years as a tool for increasing productivity and leading to higher levels of business performance.
Time Etc’s CEO, Barnaby Lashbrooke, published an article in Fortune, in which he trialled replacing all management staff with coaches, with a ratio of one coach ‘manager’ to every six staff. He discovered that when he asked his hires what they needed in terms of managerial support, the answers were overwhelmingly and unanimously descriptive of a coaching approach.
So, he listened to his employees and replaced managers with coaches.
This groundbreaking move resulted in higher engagement and productivity, less sick absence and a significant reduction in employee turnover, and what made this even more striking was that these positive results all occurred during the Great Resignation.
As can be duly concluded from above, coaching in leadership and management affords numerous benefits such as:
• Develops high-potential employees
• Fosters positive and collaborative team culture
• Empowers employees to own their individual and collective performance, developing a keener sense of self-awareness
• Sparks innovation and creativity
• Enables the business as a whole to achieve its goals and objectives
• Aids employees in achieving their personal career goals
• Improves retention rates
So how exactly do we as senior leaders incorporate coaching into our organisational culture?

  1. Advocate a learning culture
    One of the considerations that Lashbrooke pointed out in his Fortune piece was that as a company, they made the decision to invest in learning and development, including granting their employees access to Udemy courses of their choice.
    Learning and development is a crucial element of developing a growth mindset in your employees. It exceeds mandatory learning in the induction phase or the annual compliance training.
    Employees must enjoy the learning process and have an involvement in its delivery for it to be enjoyable and effective.
    For example, in one of my roles as a manager, I introduced Training Tuesdays. The idea behind this was that in our daily team meeting, the Tuesday morning meeting would be replaced by a 10-minute presentation which would be designed and delivered by a team member. Each would take turns to share best practice, concepts they had learned in their own CPD time or new industry and market insights. They were at liberty to use PowerPoint, a group activity or anything else that would make the session interesting.
    My only stipulation was that they had to remain within the 10-minute slot allotted, and at the end there must be a takeaway for everyone in the team to implement. Sometimes they would go the extra mile and prepare post-session handouts.
    This stimulated team engagement, and we always had fresh ideas that resulted in us being the highest performing team within our region for six consecutive months, achieving 140% of our KPIs.
  2. Prioritise career development
    In your 1:1 performance reviews and appraisals, don’t wait for the employee to underperform before you decide to put them on a PIP. Performance improvement plans should be on-going as part of an employee’s commitment to their own professional development.
    I always start a review by asking the employee what their career goals are, and how I can best support them achieve that goal as their manager.
    We would then collaborate in writing a plan that would incorporate organisational resources as well as areas within their work that will directly impact their career success.
    I was intentional to tie in the impact of their individual performance targets in their day-to-day work, with their career goals. I also worked with the employee to set SMART goals and encouraged them to do what was best for their career growth, even if that necessitated them transitioning from my team to another team or employer.
    As a direct result of them feeling that their career was supported by me, they were much more inclined to stay longer working under me even when presented with another offer from a competitor with higher pay!
  3. Use the GROW model of coaching in performance reviews
    In coaching, there are various acronyms and models that we use when developing leaders or managers, but one of the most familiar is the GROW model.
    In GROW, G=Goals, R=Reality, O=Options and W=Way Forward.
    When conducting performance reviews with my team members, I would use this model to structure our conversations, and as a result, I witnessed their performance drastically change from the lowest tier ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Very Good’ within weeks.
    I always kicked off the conversation by asking my employee what they wanted to get out of the meeting, and out of their job as a whole (Goal).
    I then followed with a Reality check – I became curious and asked non-judgemental questions to arouse self-awareness (an essential trait of a coaching leader) and asked questions such as, “What is working well right now? Where are you in relation to your KPIs for this month?”
    Next, I followed with Options, and asked them, “What could you be doing differently? What are your options? How will you obtain the extra training? What support do you need from me as your manager?”
    Finally, I wrapped up with finalising next steps – the Way Forward, by asking, “Which of those options works best for you? What will you do today? What needs to be done now?”
    Consider incorporating these coaching practices into your management and leadership style and into your organisation’s management culture, then watch how your employees thrive, take ownership for their work, self-generate ideas, become more self-aware and think critically and creatively to resolve business issues as a result.
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