Coaching plays an increasingly large role in our digital age. As society becomes more atomised, people look to professionals for guidance about their career, life, and goals. They recognise that coaches are key to unlocking potential and spearheading transformation – on an individual and organisational level.
While the benefits of life coaching are important, this guide will focus on the impact for businesses: outlining and investigating the benefits of coaching in the workplace. In this guide, find out about the benefits of coaching and mentoring, explore the different types of coaching for businesses, check out digital options, and read about how coaching benefits can be measured and evaluated.
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Coaching in the workplace
Did you know the title ‘Coach’ was first used in the 1830s? As an informal term for tutors, the word’s meaning was not so different from today.
The concept of ‘Human Potential Management’, popularised through the counterculture movements of the 1960s, led to widespread interest in how coaches could foster personal development. As coaches moved from academia and sport contexts, their profession became popular and the benefits of life coaching began to be discussed.
Organisations started to explore the value that coaches could bring to corporate environments, and the 1980s saw a surge in business-focused coaching. In recent decades, workplace coaching has progressed from a pure focus on performance management to development and wellbeing. The options for businesses have multiplied. This guide will outline some, but first let’s look at why companies choose to invest in coaching.
Benefits of coaching and mentoring for businesses
The benefits of coaching are numerous; let’s first look at some numbers. Research shows that coaching is a sound investment – organisations that used coaching reported stronger market performance. A survey of coaching clients found that companies investing in coaching have a mean ROI seven times higher than the initial investment. The financial benefits of coaching are clear.
Aside from this, coaching leads to:
- Improved employee performance and engagement – coaching helps with goal setting, problem solving, and more. Employees receiving coaching are better able to focus on their success and thus enhance their work performance.
- Increased employee retention. Research has shown that millennials who have workplace mentors are twice as likely to remain with their employer for over five years.
- Faster, more effective integration of new employees. Coaching makes it easier for new starters to build relationships and feel part of their team. Research suggests that new employees are 24% likelier to make a quick exit if this integration isn’t successful – costing the business time and money.
Implementing coaching into companies leads to heightened trust and performance, as well as happier employees and reduced turnover costs.
Different types of coaching
Realising the benefits of coaching in the workplace involves thinking about what the wider goals and challenges of the business are. Consider also how different employees can benefit from different types of coaching.
There are many options: coaching for employees, executive coaching, business coaching, digital coaching, and more! We’ll stay focused on the staples of workplace coaching – updated for the new decade – and describe the impact they can make.
This type of coaching is carried out virtually: coach and coachee can be located anywhere. They interact using technology to access a coaching platform. Digital coaching is suited to future-oriented businesses. The last year has seen a revolution in work practices, which leaves little doubt that remote working – and the digital coaching sector – will continue to grow.
Benefits of coaching employees
The simplest form of business coaching involves one-to-one sessions between employees and their chosen coach, designed to guide them in realising their potential and fulfilling their role as effectively as possible.
Earlier in this guide, we described some of the benefits of coaching in the workplace – for the employer. Now let’s look at why it can be career-changing, even life-changing, for the employee.
- Goal realisation: coaching enables employees to define their short-term and long-term goals. As well as identifying these goals, a coach helps the employee figure out and take steps towards them. An employee who can measure their progress and recognise their achievements will have higher self-confidence and job satisfaction.
- Positive communication: coaching gives employees the opportunity to consider issues they may be having in their work and talk through these in a safe and supportive space. A coach will help employees feel more confident in communicating their point of view or ideas to others within the company, increasing engagement.
- Feeling valued: when a company invests in coaching, it shows employees that their development and contribution is important. One of the benefits of coaching and mentoring is the way it makes employees feel appreciated, which leads to increased staff loyalty and improved performance.
- Creating resilience: coaching can be particularly helpful for employees whose company or industry is going through a time of upheaval. Just as one of the benefits of life coaching is increased resilience and adaptability, so too can workplace coaching enable employees deal with stressful situations, remain focused, and keep a positive mindset. Employees agree: 76% believe that coaching is helpful during periods of organisational change.
Benefits of executive coaching
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their growth.”
– John Whitmore, executive coaching pioneer
Executive coaching focuses on leadership development at an executive level. Designed to help ambitious people continue their career progression, executive coaching helps with identifying and overcoming challenges. The coach is defined by their role as a facilitator, rather than a guide. This form of coaching often involves a focus on interpersonal issues. Unlike some more traditional forms of coaching, it does not resemble formal training or mentoring.
The benefits of executive coaching are significant. Here’s why it’s an impactful way for companies to unlock the benefits of coaching in an organisation:
- Research by Harvard Business Review (2019) concluded that executive coaching was the quickest and most impactful way of developing soft skills – crucial for executives in today’s workplace.
- Coaching makes goals clearer. The demands of day-to-day work can leave leaders feeling too busy to focus on the broader picture. Having a coach by their side means they have assistance in identifying vital tasks, and delegating others. This, in turn, means they can achieve their main goals faster.
- Leaders can use coaching to undertake the process of self-assessment, identify areas for improvement, and take positive action to address them. This self-knowledge – facilitated by coaching – can help create a positive work environment.
- Executive coaching has positive knock-on effects for the whole company; one study showed average employee performance levels rose by 17% when leaders were given executive coaching.
- Coaching leads to more empathetic communication and more rounded leaders as it improves understanding of how colleagues operate in the workplace. This gives rise to better teamwork and better interpersonal relationships between managers and teams.
Coaching creates more diverse teams. At a time when over 57% of companies recognise that gender diversity initiatives lead to improved business outcomes, women in leadership positions still face obstacles. Coaching assists female leaders and future leaders in dealing with challenges; female leaders report that coaching benefits them in terms of personal development and transformational learning.
Benefits of business coaching
While employee coaching and executive coaching work to bring out employees’ potential and help people excel in their roles, a business coach usually assists with development – of a company or individual.
Business coaching is objective-focused and looks to the future. It’s increasingly popular with companies keen to get an outside perspective, whether on their broad strategy, or specific issues such as restructuring.
The key benefits of business coaching include:
- A business coach helps to establish a vision and identify long-term ambitions for the company, taking a wider view to enable leaders to see how their next steps fit into long-term strategy.
- Business coaches use tailored and highly adaptable goals, with regular reports, to enable a company to track and analyse its progress.
- Business coaching can also be diagnostic; enabling leaders to candidly discuss challenges the business faces and work together to come up with solutions. This increases future resilience.
- Effective business coaches give businesses the skills to survive future challenges independently; so while business coaching is valuable as part of a long-term plan, it can also be highly effective in shorter forms.
- By transforming a company’s mindset and goals, business coaches have a positive impact on company culture, creating better places to work.
How the benefits of coaching should be evaluated is something businesses ought to consider as they implement coaching programs.
In this guide we’ve cited many studies showing the positive effects of coaching across a wide range of companies and industries. However, it’s also important for leaders to understand how coaching is positively impacting their organisation specifically. For example, are new employees responding particularly well? How about executives? Gathering this information takes some time, but it’s the best way for organisations to ensure they have a coaching strategy that suits their needs.
Tips for evaluating the benefits of coaching in the workplace:
- Track and measure statistics on employee retention, performance, and engagement prior to and after the implementation of coaching practices. Detailed, department-specific statistics are most useful.
- Keep a note of the rate of promotion within the company. Has this been positively affected? If not, it may be worth exploring the benefits of talent management coaching.
- Employees receiving coaching should work with their coach to develop personalised development plans that are shared with their manager. These can then be a valuable source of insight into the impact of coaching on an individual level. Regular sessions where these are discussed, and progress updates are shared, will help to track progress as well as boosting motivation.
- An annual company-wide evaluation of goal achievement is also key to ensuring coaching is guiding a business in the right direction. To really reflect on yearly progress and identify the forces behind highlights or challenges, a business coach can help.
Behavioural Scientist at CoachHub.io
Rosie is a behavioural scientist at CoachHub, where she applies insights from positive psychology, neuroscience and behavioural science directly into digital coaching programmes and an approach that drives individual and organisational transformation. She works as part of the in-house research and development team, the Coaching Lab, and contributes to the advancement of the science of coaching and behaviour change; in addition to working both internally with in-house researchers and with world-class external academic teams to design and execute groundbreaking studies.
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