Effective executive business coaching is optimized when viewed within the context of achieving measurable business results. In the successful small business, coaching is conducted in keeping with the organizational structure of the business. It is seen to be part of the leadership skills development culture that fulfils strategic objectives and goals.
A coaching program, within a business culture, works because it focuses attention on the people in the business. Coaching is a practice that emphasizes the importance of interpersonal relationships in getting the job done. It also demands that everyone is on a path of ongoing learning. No one can rest on his or her laurels in a high-performance business.
Effective coaching programs also enhance corporate team building. They achieve this result because they send a clear message that the business takes each person seriously, as valuable individuals that make positive contributions to the business.
Coaching enables people to understand themselves, identify their strengths, work with others more effectively and openly, and by so doing, contribute positively to the success of the business as part of an executive group.
There are three key elements that are essential in having an effective executive coaching framework in a business.
Element One – Accountability
Coaching works because the person being coached holds him or herself accountable and responsible for the results. People who benefit from coaching are people who want to be coached. They keep an open mind as they think critically through the information that has been generated in and around them. They are prepared to listen honestly to the feedback, even if at times this may be uncomfortable and confronting for them.
Insights about their performance gleaned from psychometric instruments and tools and input from others who work alongside them serve as valuable sources of information.
By thinking through the issues and using their coach as an honest broker, effective business owners and managers are able to interpret the information, assign meaning to it and develop a plan around what to do. They take responsibility for their subsequent words and their actions.
Executive coaching is particularly well suited for successful people who are already performing at a high level of competence. They are self-motivated; they desire to achieve at a higher level; they have the necessary drive for learning and taking personal responsibility for managing both perceived and real gaps in performance as a means by which they raise the bar toward excellence.
Element Two – Direction
Effective coaching is part of an integrated and planned approach to achieve business objectives and results. The tasks to be undertaken are measurable and achievable. People being coached incorporate their new learning into practical results that further the objectives of the business.
In successful businesses, the coaching function is outlined as part of the small business plan and integrated into the developmental culture of the business.
The direction of coaching is determined by achieving agreed results through having individual development plans that are tied back to corporate plans at the strategic level. These are reviewed on an ongoing basis so that development is seen as a never-ending task.
Effective business owners and managers are always learning themselves, and they see this learning as part of the continuous improvement cycle of the business.
Often, individual coaching interventions reveal and uncover structural barriers to an individual achieving high performance within the business itself. Breakdowns in systems, processes, policies and so on may need to be addressed, within the business itself, for the individual to perform at a higher level.
Coaching at the executive level in this sense becomes everyone’s responsibility, within the high performance business culture, in terms of developing plans that will remove such barriers to performance.
It is worth noting that Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the father of the quality improvement approach, said that 85% of so called ‘people performance’ problems are caused by structural issues in and around the person concerned.
Element Three – Openness
Coaching is a business proposition. The demand for open communication and ongoing learning in relationships between people in successful businesses informs the changes that need to be made by the individual.
This calls for strong relationships and straight talking at the business owner and management levels. Remember, coaching interventions are a function that is primarily for the benefit of the business, not the person being coached.
This being the case, the whole business must create a supportive, collegiate environment of mutual respect, where truth telling is the norm.
Performance issues and behaviors are the focus. Proposals for courses of action are talked through and discussed openly so that an individual’s particular strengths are enhanced and their weaknesses are managed and compensated for within an overall team context.
Coaching is not about ‘fixing’ people. It is about getting high performance business results. People being coached in high performing businesses self manage and self correct around the issues being raised with them.
Business coaching is not therapy. It is not financial, medical advice or counselling. If people need these kinds of interventions, they should be referred to trained professionals in those fields.