How to develop coaching skills in the workplace

If you are a manager looking for additional progression or have managers working for you that you want to develop, the blog post below will give you information to create the 4 pillars which create the foundation to develop coaching skills.

 In many businesses today, managers who are responsible for a team of people are encouraged to use coaching as an approach.  If you want to understand more about the history of coaching, have a look at a previous post what is coaching?

 How does coaching help at work?

Coaching creates an environment of empowerment, where people are responsible for their own actions.   A coaching style is based on development, meaning people feel acknowledged and engaged with the company.  This can lead to a greater level of trust in senior management and the company, a challenge felt by many companies in the current climate. 

 The relationship between a manager and their team is a crucial one to get right. What happens between these people affects the performance of individuals, teams and ultimately the business.   Evidence by the CIPD suggests this relationship is one of the biggest influences whether an employee stays or leaves the organisation.  Coaching through its nature generates opportunities to work on a one-to-one basis with employees.  These interactions are more likely to generate a positive increase in motivation and job satisfaction.

The 4 pillars   

1. Time

Coaching can require time away from operational tasks; does your business support this?  If not, you’re not alone.  It has been shown that organisations will forego learning opportunities if it is has an impact on short-term performance, with other recent studies showing that staff are frequently deemed to be too busy to make time for training.  

2. Culture

Sometimes in organisations, the ideas are present, but the commitment to carry out the ideas is lacking. A culture that promotes coaching and personal development needs actions to uphold it.  Some managers report that they are measured on people skills, but find the same emphasis is not placed upon them in comparison to more task-focused measurements.  To thrive, coaching needs a supportive culture that allows for a slower but more sustainable growth, a culture that allows for mistakes and, consequentially learning.

3. Skills

Has any training been given?  The question of whether a coach can be trained is an ongoing debate in the coaching industry.  What is clear is that managers do benefit from training showing them how to use coaching skills.  Including coaching skills training in the induction period not only helps new managers understand the benefits of coaching, but also helps to set expectations of their role.  Research has shown that insufficient money is spent on newly recruited managers, leading to possibly more costly problems in the future.

Coaching skills are like muscles they need to be used to work.  After the initial training, it is really important to have opportunities to practice and reflect.  Peer support groups have been proven to be effective as an environment to improve and further develop coaching skills, but also as a place to answer concerns and share experiences.  Buy-in from senior managers to have coaching as part of their performance daily/weekly conversations will encourage practice and reinforce the importance of coaching within the company.

4. Confidence

Having the opportunity to practice and then to receive feedback is crucial to self-confidence levels.  Feedback doesn’t have to be formal, but it does have to be constructive because it is this feedback that allows people to view coaching as a skill that is increased and developed over time and with practice.

Building in time for reflection will also help to increase confidence.  The time spent reflecting allows opportunities and improvements to become visible and gives a feeling of control, affecting confidence.

Coaching in the workplace is a powerful tool when used in the right way, for the right purpose.  How do you use it?

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Influencing-gender-equality- business

As it was International Women’s Day recently, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about something related to it.

Gender inequality still exists in the work place. Some issues are obvious, such as poor female representation in senior roles, and other issues are hidden, one of which is pay. Lots of things have happened since the Equal Pay Act of 1970, nearly 40 years ago! On one hand, it does seem disappointing to think that we are still discussing the same problem 40 years on, but the recent amendment added to the Enterprise and Employment Bill indicates there is now a political push to improve gender pay equality at work. If this bill is passed, both small and large businesses will be forced to declare gender pay gaps. How this naming and shaming will affect pay remains to be seen. 200 companies initially signed up, on a voluntary basis, to report pay gaps but only 5 did so. What does this say about the appetite of business to implement equality? Will the transparency this bill proposes change the underlying culture, does it go far enough?

In an article published by the CIPD (link here), they give the main tips that businesses can employ to ensure female equality. The article raises some really relevant points for business owners and senior managers, but still leaves the question as to what people who work within the business can do to influence change. Whilst not everyone is in a position of power, it does still seem reasonable to suggest that we all have a level of influence, and that we all have opportunities either within a business or, when dealing with a business, to champion some of these points. Perhaps through awareness, we can help business to adopt some of the tips, and really start to tackle gender equality.

Using the ideas raised in the CIPD article, here are some suggestions of how each of us can make a difference.

  1. Don’t assume

Although there are gender equality issues within our business world, it doesn’t necessarily follow that every business will suffer from it. Don’t assume that every business won’t be able to adapt to changes in your circumstances or value the impact of your leadership skills. Most importantly, don’t use the issues identified as a mental barrier to limit your own ambition.

  1. Networking

Does your workplace help you to network with other women in business or have a specific leadership programme? Could they become involved with any existing programmes or even set one up? Participating in such programmes is not only beneficial for you and your personal skills, but also for the company itself in exposure, an increasingly skilled workforce and “buy in” from senior leaders. Could you bring these ideas to your existing workplace or the businesses you interact with? Finally, how can you broaden your own network?

  1. Flexibility

There is a call for businesses to become more agile as the shape of the workforce changes. Companies need to react, making sure they do not lose talented women and men from the workplace because of the amount or type of hours they can offer. Instead, by offering part time positions, companies retain your skills and experience, which may otherwise be lost, or worse, utilised by a competitor. It has been shown that part time workers have less absence, improved output and better morale. Restricting part time workers to lower paying jobs on the basis of the number of hours worked rather than ability seems to be a out-dated notice, one which no longer fits with today’s 24/7 work environment. What can you do to promote flexible working in your workplace?

  1. Set an example, lead the way

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, said Ghandi. Demand the changes that will support equality and your career, but also support people just starting out in their careers or those further down the career progression ladder. Even the smallest change has an impact and causes a ripple.

Although much of the ability and power to change comes from senior figures, maybe we could argue that much of the will and demand to change comes from people just like you and me. Maybe the question we really need to ask is; what will you do?

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