importance of coaching in the workplace

Last summer I had my first swim lesson – EVER. I’ve been a pretend swimmer all my life, mimicking the beautiful arm strokes I’ve seen seasoned swimmers make. I struggled with exhaustion after just one lap and wondered why my whole body seemed to hit the pause button – suspended in the water rather than flowing forward – every time I came up for air.

She asked me questions like, “how might you put more power in your strokes to propel your body forward?” to help me think through the mechanics of swimming. It was these 3 hour-long swim lessons that dramatically changed a lifetime of struggling to swim well on my own. I learned to breathe in alignment with my strokes. I was able to swim several laps before needing to pause for a break. It was a tremendous leap forward in my swimming capabilities. All because of the expert guidance of a coach.

Regardless of industry, studies have shown that having a coach accelerates success in achieving goals. In the financial sector, coaches impact debt reduction, savings habits, and credit scores. Health coaches are associated with significant weight loss and improved quality of life. In career and life coaching, results include increased confidence, higher self-esteem, and new career opportunities. Sales coaching has been found to improve win rates up to 28%. More and more organizations are also recognizing the power of coaching to elevate the performance of their teams. In fact, coaching is the second fastest growing industry in the world (6.7% growth rate from 2019-2022) with a market size of $15 billion in 2019.

Clearly, getting coached pays dividends. In the business world, coaching empowers individuals, creates a culture of ownership, and helps improve employee performance. Personal benefits include higher job and life satisfaction, clarity of goals and action steps, and greater self-awareness.

Why is creating a coaching culture in your organization so important RIGHT NOW?

Economic commentators have been highlighting the impact of the Great Resignation of 2021, where we saw employees voluntarily leaving their organizations hit a record high of 4.5 million in the month of November 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic also altered how people experience work, reducing the sense of belonging and connection employees felt with one another. Because of these seismic shifts, organizations must intentionally connect with their employees to retain them. The ability to successfully connect with employees is driven by leaders within an organization that tap into the power of coaching. These are the individuals who drive engagement, increase trust, and develop loyalty – one meaningful conversation at a time.

What’s interesting is that when asked why companies are reaching out to Fierce, Inc. for training, their reasons are typically related to the quality of coaching their leaders provide for their teams.

These reasons include statements like:

  • Employees keep coming to me with their problems. I solve them and they show up the next day with another problem. I just don’t have enough hours in the day.
  • Employees don’t feel confident in their decision-making. To be safe, they don’t move forward until they’ve run the ideas by everyone, which stalls projects.
  • Employees don’t have clearly defined development paths in the organization and end up leaving because they don’t see a future in the company.

Each of these pain points can be resolved by building a strong coaching culture – by equipping leaders with coaching skills that make a real impact on business results. Effective coaching is a habit that leaders practice which builds high performance teams. If a leader merely doles out advice to put out fires, they’ll continue to be buried under fires that burn away time to focus on more strategic initiatives.

At Fierce, we define coaching as helping others to develop and embrace their own self-generated solutions. We do that by asking powerful questions that spark insight when you truly create the space for self-reflection.

importance of coaching

So WHY don’t organizations tap into the power of coaching more?

In just about every single workshop we’ve facilitated on having Fierce conversations, the number one challenge leaders share when they learn how to engage in these types of conversations is the lack of time, especially when it comes to coaching someone. We hear leaders say, “I’ve got a million fires to put out everyday,” or “I manage a team of 20. How in the world would I make time to have coaching conversations with every single person on my team?

Yes, that is absolutely true. The pressure of today’s work environment can be suffocating. If you’re a high achiever, you’re likely someone who runs full steam ahead, always agreeing to take on more. On top of that, you are handed down projects and quickly realize they were due yesterday. The positions left open from pre-COVID times remain vacant. How would you ever have a moment to focus on the development of others when you can barely take a breather for yourself?

The bigger question is: what is at stake if you don’t coach your team members? What’s at stake to be gained if you do? How much more time will you gain if you intentionally find coaching opportunities to develop your bench strength?

Here’s the thing about Fierce coaching conversations. They don’t have to take an excessive amount of time to be effective. While a deep dive into an issue generates incredible insight and growth, a shorter, 15-minute conversation can be just as powerful. In these instances, we simplify the coaching steps into three questions: What, so what, and now what?

What?

This question is intended to clarify the issue at hand, not only for you, but more importantly, for the coachee. Simply ask, “What’s going on?” If they’ve listed several topics, ask, “Which is the most important issue we talk about right now?”

So what?

This is where you help identify the impact of the issue. Ask: “What are all the outcomes this issue is influencing and why is it important to address them? Who else is impacted by this issue? What is at stake if nothing changes?”

Now What?

The final piece is determining the most potent next step for the coachee. What action will they take that will have the biggest impact on results? Perhaps it’s having an overdue conversation, conducting more research, or launching a prototype to gather feedback.

Now that you have an idea of the benefits of coaching and how to seek out those opportunities, how might you engage in them more often in your life? What questions might you ask to help others shift their thinking and gain new insights? My swim coach didn’t just show me exactly what I needed to do but engaged my own reflection on how I might swim better. These conversations do not need to be limited in the supervisor-supervisee relationship. You can use coaching with friends, children, colleagues, and even with yourself.

At its essence, coaching is about asking clarifying questions that dig deep into an issue or challenge. Once clarity is achieved, new opportunities can surface. Powerful questions result in powerful solutions. As you become a more effective coach, not only will you develop others, but you’ll also build your bench so you can hand down responsibilities that are no longer the best use of your time. This enables you to take on those big, weighty, new stretch assignments that will further your own career.

So go and be incredible, Fierce coaches.

To learn more about the Fierce Coaching Model, click here.

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