Although executive coaching steadily grows within organizations, many missed opportunities and misunderstandings remain, especially on the most effective approaches to yield the best return on coaching investments. In the past, some HR and C-Suite executives viewed coaching as merely a triage tool: utilizing a coach to remedially fix toxic or destructive behavior or issues of underperformance. Today, most leaders understand coaching as a transformative, constructive, ongoing process of talent development applicable to a wide variety of organizational circumstances. However, the uncertainty most often present is where, how, and for whom this transformational investment gets deployed for maximum performance impact—individually and organizationally.
Utilizing coaching to develop high-potential performers’ capabilities is a rapidly growing area of talent investment—one proving to be invaluable in producing measurable results. Research from the Institute of Coaching found over 70% of individuals who receive coaching showed improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. Other studies have shown that ongoing coaching can enhance results1, reduce procrastination, facilitate goal attainment2, navigate conflict3, and more. It's no wonder a staggering 86% of companies surveyed engaged in coaching said they recouped their investment in ongoing coaching.
At Waldron, we firmly believe that executive coaching is an essential performance enhancement tool, both individually and organization-wide. We have found over time among our client base it’s most beneficial when orchestrated as highly organized, measured, ongoing practices—systemically and systematically applied.
“With clients and prospects, we advocate for both a systemic and systematic approach to coaching within leadership development,” says Waldron CEO Mike Humphries. “And when I say leadership development, I don’t mean just for the executive team. I also mean second- & third-tier leaders. In fact, with some of the new technology-enabled approaches to coaching, we’re moving even deeper into organizations. We are bringing the performance and effectiveness acceleration benefits of executive coaching to more people—including the managerial level—with measurable investment returns.”
A powerful strategic duo to coaching
What does it mean to deploy a systemic and systematic coaching approach?
Foremost, it’s offering executive coaching throughout an organization (system-wide), ideally, at multiple leadership levels, and orchestrated deliberately and strategically. Within such an approach, the coaching investments are systematically developed, applied, managed, and measured while being systemically available.
SYSTEMIC APPROACH TO COACHING:
When realizing measurable organizational performance gains or clear succession pathways is the goal, executive coaching should not be available only to a tiny subset of the workforce. Humphries asserts that only offering coaching investments to individuals targeted for specific personal improvements or one-off succession needs, while providing a positive return, is limiting by nature toward only incremental impact. By offering system-wide investment, you realize not only individual performance gains, but gain near-certain strategic organizational returns as well.
SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO COACHING:
Making coaching available throughout the organization doesn’t mean offering the same options across all leadership roles. The best way to set about a systematic, productive coaching implementation is to:
- Establish where you want to go;
- Evaluate where leaders are now;
- Consider how coaching investment fits within the organization’s strategic plans and culture, and;
- Examine ways to tailor individualized strategies along with other learning.
Why bother? One word: TALENT
Broadcasting your support for your people—regardless of their current position, goals, or capabilities—is a powerful way to cultivate loyalty. A 2018 LinkedIn report revealed that 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if their organization invested in their careers through concrete offerings like coaching and other deliberate learning and development efforts. In the current pandemic-affected environment, many organizations are increasingly concerned with retaining the talent attracted as they grew in a very robust economy. Kim Bohr, head of Waldron's Effective Organizations practice & COO, points out that the battle to attract and retain exceptional talent does not stop just because the economy turns down.
“Revenues may have slowed, and you may have needed to make some adjustments to your workforce to fit the new reality,” Bohr says. “Nevertheless, retention is very, very important. And if you want to retain great people—including your key successors—investing in their development and clear career pathways is crucial to retention.”
The brand legacy systemic and systematic investment provides
Organizations are increasingly offering executive coaching to a broader cross-section of their leaders and high-potential talent. They are also committing to the investment on a long-term basis. Beyond providing noted performance benefits, establishing and maintaining a development investment and career-path-focused culture supports an employer brand in recruiting and retaining top talent.
In an interview with HR Magazine, Jennifer Dwyer, a leadership development manager at BASF, explained why her company offers executive-level coaching, transition coaching for first-time and new-assignment leaders, and accelerated coaching for high-potentials. “We wanted to establish executive coaching as a value-added process, not a remedial last chance,” Dwyer said. “It’s common for our leaders to transition every four years to completely different geography or business lines. We need to ramp them up as quickly as possible.”
Building the pipeline further down the line doesn’t just prime many promising people for choice promotions. According to a Harris Poll, 70% of US employees say they’re likely to leave their current job and opt for another opportunity at a company that invests in their employees’ professional development. By ensuring professional development is offered system-wide and through systematic strategies, you can capture budding talent’s commitment early on, long before they start contemplating jumping ship or changing career paths. Bohr points out that this is especially true for companies that value diversity and inclusion since early leadership support is particularly crucial to retaining talented women and people of color. This ongoing, comprehensive coaching approach can transform your entire organization into having an ever-growing pipeline of eager and well-trained employees and leaders.
Communicate, circulate, and connect coaching
Of course, organizations choosing to engage in systemic and systematic coaching must do one crucial thing to leverage these significant benefits: talk about it.
“When you do something in a deliberate, organized way, you get better results,” Humphries explains. “When good internal communications support that effort, it helps people understand what’s available and how it fits into organizational goals and individual career commitment. Suppose you’re taking a systematic approach but NOT marketing it internally. In that case, your people won’t know that you’re doing it, or why you’re doing it, how it can benefit them, and how it ties into organizational culture and performance objectives.”
Offering coaching, professional development, and training, across your organization in strategic ways can feel like a big lift at the outset. However, there are many ways to tackle it, depending on your needs, budget, and goals. If you’re looking for a way to raise all boats, creating a rising tide of motivated leadership talent is among the fastest and most effective ways to do it. Get started, then tweak the effort to get it fine-tuned over time.
Download a PDF of this article here.
Waldron hosted Aligning Your Coaching Culture to Your Organizational Strategy, a panel discussion with leaders who have successfully adopted and led systemic and systematic coaching approaches. Hear from three business leaders who’ve initiated, sustained, and improved systemic and systematic coaching within their organizations, on the Video Replay.
1 Maximizing the Impact of Executive Coaching, The Manchester Review, 2001, Volume 6, Number 1, Joy McGovern, et.al.
2 Losch, S., Traut-Mattausch, E., Mühlberger, M. D., & Jonas, E. (2016). Comparing the Effectiveness of Individual Coaching, Self-Coaching, and Group Training: How Leadership Makes the Difference. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 629. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00629
3 Bonneywell, S. (2017) 'How a coaching intervention supports the development of female leaders in a global organisation', International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring (S11), pp.57-69. Available at: https://radar.brookes.ac.uk/radar/items/2d76c41c-6628-4eed-8a8a-4d0a5c4f5540/1/
About Waldron Effective Organizations Services
Waldron’s tailored coaching and consulting services are designed to build strong leaders and agile organizational cultures.
Lasting Transformation is Our Goal.
Whether a small shift in the way our clients work or a total disruption of the business model, we assist clients in driving greater results at the individual, team, and organizational levels. We are committed to providing truthful insights delivered discreetly, in a clear and concise manner. Our highly tailored engagements move individuals and organizations to achieve desired results and outcomes.
Contact us to learn about Waldron's approach to helping clients "learn by doing", using actual present challenges and opportunities to develop new ways of working, leading, and collaborating. This approach ensures our solutions make effective and efficient use of resources and equips clients to continue success after our engagement ends.