In today’s business environment, strategies can change quickly. Global enterprises need to show sensitivity to local conditions while maintaining organizational alignment. Leaders are under enormous pressure to be agile while executing on the strategic intent of their operations. Coaching can make or break leadership performance in these volatile business conditions. When supported by key stakeholders to ensure shared perspectives of desired business outcomes, coaching can deliver great value when implemented as an organizational process that drives systematic change.
Applying Organizational Context to Coaching
The one-to-one encounter between a coach and a leader remains fundamental to set the objectives of a coaching assignment. In addition, key stakeholders should also be involved. Stakeholders include:
• The leader’s manager, who not only helps define the expectations and deliverables of the coaching engagement but also takes responsibility for creating an enabling environment supporting the leader’s post-coaching development and success.
• Senior management and representatives of key functions such as human resources. Both share the responsibility for articulating the organization’s strategic objectives and provide input to the coaching effort to ensure that the coaching and strategy agendas are properly aligned.
Through this process, organizational context is made relevant. Informed by organizational strategy, as well as by the organization’s culture, values, processes and structure, coaching becomes a powerful mechanism for impacting organizational capability and business outcomes.
Using a Business Value Chain
A business value chain is a specific mechanism by which a coaching approach ensures that strategic objectives are translated into a practical focus for coaching and desired business outcomes. For example:
Once the business value chain has been properly vetted, it then serves as a practical guide for the entire coaching engagement, used to set goals at the level of the individual. It provides a line of sight, allowing the leader to identify objectives at all linked levels of performance, where development at one drives improvement at the next. Targets and metrics are established at the outset, and the leader’s proficiency at achieving targets is assessed at regular intervals. Improvement in outcomes predefined by the organization and the achievement of strategic objectives become the ultimate measurement of coaching success, especially where the coaching engagement involves multiple leaders.
This strategic approach to coaching delivers three major benefits:
1. It takes a comprehensive approach so that coaching not only improves individual performance but impacts the broader organization. It ensures that the leader’s interpersonal, leadership and strategic skills are aligned with the organization’s desired leadership brand.
2. This approach ties coaching outcomes to organizational strategy. Rather than taking a tactical approach where generic capabilities are identified as gaps separate from the leader’s unique context, this approach to coaching integrates it with organizational context and strategy. Leaders develop broad capabilities relevant to realizing the organization’s strategic objectives now and in the future.
3. A strategic approach to coaching supports the development of an organizationwide coaching culture. Addressing the broader context in which the leader operates, it takes into full account the role of managers, colleagues, business strategy, culture and processes. Using insight, tools and experience, the organization creates an environment conducive to the success of the newly coached leader and of the coaching of other leaders.
Proving It Delivers
With its emphasis on transparency, strategy and organizational impact, this approach to coaching offers new opportunities for measuring the achievement of the coaching goals. This can be accomplished by defining a clear set of success targets and adding accountability to coaching programs by embedding measurement process effectiveness and business outcomes in the coaching design.
Metrics should be determined before the coaching begins. It’s important to measure the performance of both the organization and the individual leader. Organizational success measures can also be used to set goals and evaluate progress at the business unit or enterprisewide level. Ultimately, measurement helps to determine the impact on such critical business outcomes as productivity, strategic change, employee engagement, leadership brand alignment, talent attraction and retention.
Michael Haid is senior vice president of global solutions at Right Management. He can be reached at email@example.com.