Why coaching needs to underpin 21st century learning and development priorities

Gina Lodge, CEO of The Academy of Executive Coaching, tells us why a coaching culture is essential for the future success of business. 

We have seen recently how the Fourth Industrial Revolution is pushing the envelope when it comes to the future of work. This is bringing huge implications for how we must prepare our workforces to meet these new challenges and also how our business processes and ways of being must adapt to accommodate shifting priorities for customers and employees alike.

As organisations, employees, leaders and decision makers we must pay attention to how we act as the workplace rapidly evolves around us. Automation and digitisation are here to stay, and as this changes the nature of the type of work we do, what strategies and tools can we use to provide the highest possible value whilst also enriching the working environment for all concerned?

A good starting point is with the clear calls coming from thought leaders, including the Global Peter Drucker Forum and Deloitte, for companies to reinvent themselves with a human focus. While machines take care of the mundane and repetitive tasks, it leaves employers with a very real obligation to unlock the potential of their L&D strategies and people practices.

As the Top Employers Institute has identified, in its HR Trends Report 2020, the strategic focus needs to be firmly placed on being the very best version of ourselves that we can be – both as people and as businesses.

Based on global data from over 1,600 top employers, organisations are faced with three main trends that need addressing if they are to continue enjoying commercial growth and high-performance and that is:

  1. Enrichening their people
  2. Enriching careers and
  3. Enriching society.

The goal posts are going to have to shift. Not just in how we develop our people, but in how we construct our corporate cultures, how we build our company identities and how we serve the needs of our customers. Our workplace of tomorrow needs to be shaped by purpose, meaning, trust, fairness and openness.

Such a quantum leap may appear to be a tall order for some, but for others, best practice is already underway in designing more effective and advantageous people strategies.

For those unfamiliar with the developmental opportunities executive and team coaching offers, the positive benefits stretch far beyond the remedial or an individual executive’s needs. Coaching skills are a new currency for the 21st century workforce and a coaching approach or culture far transcends the needs of the C-suite.

Coaching is playing an increasingly pivotal role in the design of our employees’ development as well as a company’s good governance. It is being deployed top-down with middle managers right through to the future leaders on graduate schemes benefitting from receiving coaching themselves and equally being equipped with coaching skills to support their own performance and that of their teams and direct reports.

In enriching our people and their careers, training professionals can be confident that a coaching approach will help them create a safe learning environment where evidence of real change in behaviour and engagement is readily visible.

Fashioning a corporate culture around coaching delivers a seismic shift in how a company conducts itself and role models its workers.

Fashioning a corporate culture around coaching delivers a seismic shift in how a company conducts itself and role models its workers. Employees are nurtured throughout their working life cycle, meaning that the quality of their output, performance, working relationships and communication are all elevated to bear superior benefits for the employee and employer.

As the Top Employers Institute found, the high-performing organisations it surveyed reported that many of them had ditched annual performance reviews and made career development a regular theme of discussion between employees and their managers.

Performance management is turning towards performance development with learning becoming an employee-driven process as workers take more responsibility for their own career development.

A coaching culture augments, hones and celebrates ‘human’ skills that machines are incapable of mastering such as creativity, adaptability, resilience, emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, critical thinking and problem-solving.

By investing in growing these skills in low, middle and high-performing individuals, organisations will realise far more value in their ongoing pursuit for healthy profits, product development and value creation.

In designing leadership and management programmes, L&D professionals should also be equipping their team leaders and departmental managers with a coaching style as part of their management toolkit.

Giving talented people who are at the beginning of their leadership journey, the time, space and opportunity to talk through challenges, explore different trains of thought, and find answers for themselves, is central to accelerating their development and growing their confidence.

Developing better managers has never been more important, particularly when you look at the number of accidental managers employed within organisations who have little or no formal management training. Managers armed with coaching or mentoring skills become better communicators and facilitators.

They can excel in empowering and engaging their colleagues to do their best work with a much better ability to build rapport, read body language, ask effective questions in the moment, and be more comfortable being silent during coaching-based conversations.

The earlier you get managers practising coaching skills, the greater chance you have of creating a coaching culture.

As employers, it is our responsibility to support all workers to learn and grow. By moving to a more agile business model of continuous learning, best practice is to provide a supportive climate for employee development.

We need to champion a culture of active listening too where employees feel invested in and can give regular feedback which is then used to advance and polish our training and development processes.

Coaching has never been more relevant. It can easily be flexed and adapted to suit the needs of employees and the business as a whole and offers a valuable opportunity to support individual, team and organisational growth.

Early adopters have found its use to be transformational for their businesses and rightly, it should be a natural and habitual part of how we work. In the search for excellence, coaching brings many lightbulb moments which might never have been realised if outdated leadership styles were relied upon.

With so many benefits, can you afford not to adopt a coaching approach?


About the author

Gina Lodge is CEO of The Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC).

The AoEC is a leading global provider of accredited coach training and executive coaching for teams and within organisations. We also tailor coaching-based solutions for organisations wanting to develop their coaching culture. To learn more please visit www.aoec.com or call 020 7127 5125.



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