Is Business Coaching a Trick or a Treat?

October is here, and with the question of ‘Trick or treat?’ in the air, I thought I'd ask the question; is Business Coaching a trick or treat for smaller organisations?

A recent report on coaching culture, compiled by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), revealed that in the UK, 68% of businesses with 230-500 employees have used coaching in the past five years. This focus on betterment is encouraging, particularly with the global economy still in a worrying state. However, some smaller business owners still feel that coaching is a luxury they cannot afford, a treat available only to corporations who have the cash to spare on self-improvement.

Without this self-improvement, owners or managers of smaller companies may never attain the level of leadership which would help them to get more from their staff and improve their profitability as a company.  The top two reasons given for why organisations engage with coaching were ‘for general personal development’ and ‘to improve a specific area of performance’. No matter how small or large the company, if it is made up of professionally-developed individuals who are focused on targeted goals, the path to success is a clear one.

The outcomes of coaching often surprise the business owners and corporate managers that we work with, surpassing their expectations, and ILM’s research confirms that this is a sentiment shared nationwide. Improved awareness, confidence and business knowledge are cited as the predominant outcomes, and further benefits listed include ‘improvements in communication and interpersonal skills, leadership and management, conflict resolution, personal confidence, motivation, management performance as well as preparation for a new role or promotion’.

Over 90% of large organisations (defined as having more than 2,000 employees) are engaged in coaching.

Its success seems to speak for itself. The popularity of coaching is consistently increasing in environments where a coaching budget is made available to HR departments. Businesses not only need structure, their employees need leadership and channels for growth and development as offered by coaching. This is as true for 2, 500 employees as it is for 250. Do you provide avenues for your employees to grow as professional individuals? Whether your focus would be management or throughout your entire organisation, coaching helps to unlock otherwise-wasted potential and strengthen each department of your business in turn.

‘We are seeing a shift in role from the “manager as expert” to the “manager as coach”.’

With each manager expected to lead their team towards success, contributing to the overall value of the company, the pressure is on managers to extract more from their reports. However, if they are not trained as coaches, how can they be expected to deliver the results that directors may be looking for? Trying to implement a coaching culture with no coaching experience on board is an endeavour destined to fail: the fantastic results of coaching that they have heard rumours of will never materialise when left to untrained individuals.

The skill set required for effective coaching is not automatically possessed by every management figure as some expect it ought to be. It is a ‘skill that people have to work on and improve.’ This calls for training, experience, ongoing development and support.

A willing attitude or natural aptitude is not enough.

Ask yourself, if you have tried to implement some kind of coaching culture in your organisation already: ‘Is it working as well as I hope?’ The chances are that you are not seeing the dynamic results you’ve seen effected by professional, external business coaches elsewhere.

When received from a qualified and experienced professional, business coaching is undoubtedly a treat, not a trick. Out of the 80% of the organisations questioned who claimed they used coaching, 65% hired their coaches externally, taking into account their qualifications and success rates. Of course, to say that business coaching is a treat does not mean that it is an indulgence, but an investment which can seriously pay off, with a direct and measurable return on investment, if approached with the right attitude.

ILM’s report revealed that ‘organisations that use external coaches are more likely than those that only use internal coaches to say that the coaching focuses more broadly – covering business and workplace skills and personal skills (78% vs 59%).’ This specific but varied focus demonstrates a targeted, educated approach to coaching which is often lacking amongst untrained coaches.

If you allow yourself a coaching budget, consider how it gets spent.

Do you hire someone else in or do you offer training to your elected internal coaching staff? Is the training you offer delivered by professionals with the appropriate qualifications? Every company is different, with different hopes for coaching outcomes and therefore requiring a different kind of coaching. By seeking professional guidance, you can be sure you are implementing the right kind of coaching for your business.

If you don’t currently have a coaching budget, consider what your hopes are for improving the quality of your staff and the time they spend working for you. Compare your performance wish-list to the reported benefits of coaching management figures. Countless case studies are available as testimonies to the success of what professional coaching companies can achieve by coaching your managers to be not just experts, but effective coaches in their own right.

68% of businesses with 230-500 employees are engaging with coaching. This is a figure which cannot be ignored.

By addressing ‘personal skills and development, as well as business and work skills’ coaching strengthens each individual within an organisation, allowing them to contribute more to the daily success and, ultimately, to drive profit. According to ILM, coaching ‘is about self-awareness and personal confidence, about building leadership quality, and not just job knowledge.’ It is not just about generating positive change in the workplace, but generating change which translates into measurable success, an increased, focused output.

These profit-driven benefits will almost certainly align with the improvements you would like to see in your company.

The pressure on all employees to perform is enormous, but if you support your managers by offering them one-to-one coaching with a  professional, they will in turn be able to extract the best performance possible from the employees for which they are responsible. This knock-on effect can transform a company, no matter how small or large.

Whatever size you are, you should be striving for more as a business. This does not mean that a company of 250 employees should be looking to become an enormous corporate outfit, but that the output of those 250 employees should be at its optimum level. An improvement in confidence and productivity will mean greater job satisfaction for your employees, too.

Well, if it’s so effective, why do relatively few smaller companies use coaching?

ILM’s ‘research findings demonstrate that coaching is widely accepted as beneficial, among all organisations, regardless of size. Rather, they reflect the fact that larger organisations enjoy access to more resources and better in-house coaching capability.’

It is simply a matter of investing time and money. If you are the director of a smaller company who has not given coaching much thought, speak to your HR department or a business coach directly. Professional business coaching companies such as ours have proven success records for return on investment in a range of companies, small, medium, and large, evidence that coaching is not simply an indulgence entertained by large corporations.

This Halloween, ensure that your profit margins get a treat by contacting us for a free consultation. No tricks!

Kind regards

Laura Ashley-Timms - Director of Coaching