We’ve not turned into biologists, or become obsessed by ecosystems, though life cycles are the subject of this post.
As a company that provides all manner of coaching, it’s not surprising that we think it’s a crucial element of success, for individuals (in both their professional and private lives) and the organisations they work for. A motivated, driven employee will always be more productive and better value than one who turns up when they feel like it and who couldn’t give a damn if the company flourished or folded; more and more stakeholders and company owners are realising just how useful coaching is as a tool to achieve this end.
As we explained a few weeks ago, implementing a coaching culture has many more benefits than increased productivity for an organisation. During an employee’s ‘life cycle’, he/she may go through many changes. Here are three examples of where, in particular, relevant coaching would make all the difference; we’ll cover another three in our next post.
Life Cycle One: Induction
Probably the most recognised stage when it comes to investing time and money into an employee: their induction/initial training. Because few people are of vital value to the business straight off the bat.
Induction is generally the employee’s education of the company’s policies, processes and practicalities, with little to do with the role itself (which we’ll to refer to as on-boarding). Gillian Jones of Emerge, and author of ‘How to Create a Coaching Culture, says this: “Research has shown that it can cost up to double a person’s salary in the first year to recruit, train and supervise them; companies rarely get a return until after this first year has passed.”
On-boarding delivers a fantastic coaching opportunity to the business. The first three months are critical to the success and confidence of the new person in their role. Effective coaching in this initial period could fast-track that employee, so that they represent a financial return to the business much earlier than if they had the traditional level of support.
A reactive plan won’t be as effective as a strategic plan: a coaching process that has an objective, and which begins from the employee’s very first day. Regular reviews and support, where necessary, encourage the employee to take ownership of their role much earlier, and to make valued contribution to the team with their ideas. It can be clear as day to someone not used to the minutiae of the business where problems may lie, for example.
A strategic approach would include the following: planned support for the critical moments of the job in question, where people are most likely to make mistakes; documentation and processes to help the employee’s transition, and which are accessible when they’re in need of help; a thorough overview of the role and its processes instilled in the employee; standards, and measures of success that could be tailored to the employee. A buddy scheme is just one example of ongoing help in the new employee’s first months.
Life Cycle Two: Performance Management
Much more than a simple annual review and automatically popping someone on a couple of training courses – just for them to slip back to where they were before their appraisal took place. An investment into people and their performance is ongoing, not something to be looked at once a year; when the skills and knowledge of an employee is harnessed and aligned to the business’ vision, both the organisation and the individual achieve their outcomes.
A coaching culture ensures that development and coaching is part of ‘the everyday’. It happens all the time: every phone conversation, meeting, written report, or process provides an opportunity for coaching and an opportunity for further improvement.
It’s a continual journey to find better ways of doing things, a case of never settling for the current status quo. Typical elements to think of, as part of any coaching point or opportunity could include: what could you learn/take away from that action? What could you do differently next time? What did you notice, and what were your thoughts on this?
It’s not a long, drawn out process – if asking these questions takes more than five minutes, there’s more that’s inherently wrong. Notes on these conversations could be kept together as the individual’s ‘learning log’; a record of their progression that says much more than a yearly window into their role. Because who can remember what they thought of a small issue ten months ago? Yet this could have been quite a significant element of their role, and an ample opportunity to make a significant change and significant difference.
The manager that adopts this approach, and who makes it a priority to continually develop and empower their people, will never need to evade difficult conversations, will direct a cohesive, more successful team, and will know what’s going on in their department at any given time without any loss of focus on their own responsibilities and goals.
Life Cycle Three: Preparation for the Next Role
Whilst a coaching approach and mindset helps managers equip their staff with all they need to carry out their job efficiently, that’s just reactive fire-fighting, as opposed to longer-term development of their skills and knowledge.
Supporting an employee towards their next role is not something to think about once the job description is sitting on their desk; it should start much, much earlier. Says Gillian, “Managers can do a lot to build internal capability. Stretching and challenging the employee in their day-to-day activities and nudging them to move outside their comfort zone will be of huge help when a step up is on the cards.”
Unfortunately, it’s common for a manager to not want to lose a valued member of their current team and have to go back to the drawing board with someone else; the vested interest they have in their team member, however, only stifles that person’s long-term goals and ambition. Natural successors may appear within the team if someone is looking to move on, which is an opportunity to shake-up the whole department and to develop the skills of those remaining.
Though sticking their head in the sand may help the manager today, it’s unfair and unrealistic to assume every employee is happy with standing still. Without ongoing development and a career plan, the employee is likely to take their skills to a completely different organisation eventually – a situation where everyone loses.
Questions to ask in this instance would include: do managers within your organisation see it as their responsibility to prepare staff for new internal roles? Are managers well-versed in the workings of other departments to know what an employee would need to develop? Is the manager open-minded and resilient, when it comes to individuals wanting to move on, and could they envisage how the remaining team would regroup and continue?
Often, it’s hard to be objective about ourselves and our skills, which is why a supportive manager, able to see ‘the bigger picture’ within a coaching culture, could make so much difference to the business and its people.
Next time, we’ll study three more eventualities within the employee life cycle, and how a coaching culture would better support them.
Career coaching and management coaching are just two of the services Emerge offer. For more information on these, or any other aspect of coaching, contact us on 01329 820580, or via email@example.com.
Thanks to zirconicusso at freedigitalphotos.net for use of the image.