Put simply, coaching will assist you in the development of potential within your organisation, helping you to reach your organisational objectives and targets.
Coaching is a supported development tool; a series of effective conversations targeted at accelerating performance over a short period of time with long-lasting effects. It enables individuals to apply newly formed skills to continually evaluate options, assist in decision-making, manage themselves and others as well as increase self-confidence.
Coaching and mentoring often get confused, so let me provide some clarification:
Mentoring is often provided by an organisational peer with subject knowledge or expertise in the specified field. They will direct the mentee, using their experience of techniques and procedures for what has worked for them. For example, the mentor recounts a challenge they have experienced that is similar to the mentee and outlines their personal techniques for resolution. While it is a long-term relationship that can last for years, and a valuable method to assist newly promoted individuals, the ‘show and follow’ technique bears its own limitations.
Coaching is provided by a qualified coach, be that from within the organisation or from an external source. Unlike the mentor-mentee relationship, the coach does not need subject expertise in order to be effective. A coach will employ their skills to aid an individual or group along a path of problem identification, decision-making and plan progression. This means that an individual’s potential is not limited by a coach’s experiences or specific knowledge. On the contrary, it optimises and nurtures the knowledge and experiences of the individuals from within their working environment. Unlike mentoring, the process of coaching takes a minimal amount of time to achieve maximum outcomes. Coaching has defined targets set at the start, which are measurable at fruition.
Why is coaching needed?
It’s no big secret that organisations are facing numerous changes and challenges on all fronts at a continuing rate. Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) are no exception. From an organisational perspective, time, effort and budget is spent on delivering changes to corporate plans and objectives. You have a communications plan, are engaging with staff, yet the feedback from employees is still that they feel undervalued, disempowered or tired of change. People are the most valuable assets in the organisation, so where is the plan to assist them with these challenges and enable them to deliver what the organisation requires? This is a golden opportunity for coaching to step in. There is opportunity for the implementation of a strategy aimed at a specific coaching style, as well as having qualified coaches deliver bespoke sessions to those who would benefit.
Studies carried out by the International Coaching Federation in 2007 show the benefits of using a coach can see increases of:
43% in work performance,
40% in self-confidence,
63% increased perception,
50% in work relationships.
With a coach, these statistics can be achieved by your employees. Imagine the benefits this will have on your organisation.
From an employee’s perspective, your working environment is changing, leadership initiatives are being introduced along with new equipment, new processes, even collaborative partnerships. All of these can mean big changes and uncertainty. The organisation sends you newsletters, arranges workshops and states that it values you and your input. So, what is making you feel like you are just about treading water and tired of the constant change? After all, you are human! By working with a coach, options and perspectives that were previously not apparent can be explored, perceived limitations meet actual limitations, giving you the skills to choose how to progress by agreeing on an action plan.
Seeing the benefits above increasing resilience, self-confidence, working relationships, work performance to name but a few, would you want your employers to offer you the opportunity to work with a coach?
For a start, an effective coaching strategy will be accessible to all employees. A narrow focus on senior managers and executive leadership teams will not only hinder the reach of coaching benefits to wider teams but can also send the message that senior managers are favoured.
Training your managers to a coaching style can be built into a development programme over a period of time or delivered as a one-off stand-alone workshop. This will enable you to provide a basic coaching approach to managing people at all levels of management, therefore gaining the benefits of a coaching approach across the organisation. In my workshop, I train managers in having challenging conversations and using a coaching approach to manage situations and personnel. Using this workshop to deliver one-to-one sessions along with trained and qualified coaches reaches a high number of personnel in a relatively short period, therefore assisting the organisation in its endeavour to achieve its objectives and targets.
A number of United Kingdom FRSs use internal or external coaches with success (Gloucester, Staffordshire, Cornwall, Devon & Somerset and Humberside to name just a handful).
There may be a need for internal coaches as opposed to external coaches (and vice-versa). Trained internal coaches will combine their coaching skills and subject expertise, and they may also have the advantage of already having a relationship with an individual or group. However, external coaches are independent of the FRS and bring their coaching skills with little to no preconceptions of the area of work and no permanent link to the organisation. There is a lot of research on the effectiveness of internal coaching and using external coaches; both have benefits and it depends on the organisation’s preference.
Organisations need to evolve to stay current and competitive. They need confident managers who are able to make decisions and lead the changes in a dynamic environment. They also need a highly trained and motivated workforce including the support services in order to deliver such changes. The entire success of most organisations hinges on the people in it. By supporting them through their initial development, the challenges they face in their role, after gaining a promotion, returning to work following a long period of absence or maternity leave and even coming up to retirement will help you retain your qualified, experienced employees. This type of support is also highly attractive to and sought after by potential employees. Valuing your employees means investing in them; coaching is an investment that rewards you with a fast return and tangible accomplishment.
For more information, go to www.foxwellconsultancy.co.uk