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Lynne Hardman

Working Transitions


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Enabling a new era of ‘in the moment’ coaching

Employee retention in the post-pandemic age requires a different approach to coaching. Is your organisation ready?

No matter what additional turbulence the post-pandemic era holds, all businesses will be impacted by the constant speed of change, where survival and success depend heavily on the quality of their teams. Organisations will continue to compete to attract talent while retaining their stars and developing their solid players.

The businesses that thrive will be those that understand that coaching is not just a ‘nice to have’, but an essential tool for achieving business goals. To maximise success, coaching should be made available across all levels of a company to empower employees to deal with the changing realities of their marketplace.

Opening up the power of coaching across your employee population can enhance your returns, helping to identify and retain talent.

High potential, talented people are hard to find, let alone recruit. Using coaching to help talent continue to thrive in your organisation is directly linked to supporting retention and keeping people gravitating towards you. Most organisations know, however, that they can't be successful on the talent of a few and understand that a mix of high performers and solid team members is needed.

The pitfalls of traditional coaching

There is no doubt that high quality expert coaching can produce positive and sustained results. When looking at implementing coaching across the business, however, there are some immediate challenges for most organisations. To truly create a culture where psychological safety and personal development are embedded is notoriously tricky due to a number of factors, including:

  • Identifying the right talent – those who will get the most out of coaching and truly engage with the learning  
  • Identifying the right areas for development
  • Cost – quality coaching is not cheap, and it's challenging to evaluate ROI or scale programmes reliably

These challenges have tended to make coaching the preserve of senior executives or those identified as high potential. This comes at a cost to the rest of your business, however, and most often to the detriment of both diversity and talent identification.

For employees at all stages of development, empowering them with the tools and mindset needed to evolve critical skills like creative problem-solving, communication skills, or even collaboration can enable the organisation unexpectedly. Statistics all point towards coaching as having a significant impact on improving relationships across the business. From enhanced direct report/supervisor relationships (>70%) to improved teamwork (67%).

Developments in coaching technology

As in all areas of our life and work, technology is having an impact on coaching. The rate of change that created shifts in technology and how we go about our daily business is also changing the face of coaching. We are all used to engaging in the virtual space for meetings or even ‘Zoom drinks’. Meeting up with a coach in a physical location is no longer necessary to make an effective human connection.

Reports estimate that face-to-face coaching decreased sharply after Covid-19 by 74%, while online coaching increased by 57%, becoming more popular than ever. This ability to be sitting anywhere and connect has opened a world where location and geographic barriers for delivery no longer have the same impact.

Although we don’t see AI taking over entirely from the very personalised and tailored nature of coaching just yet, there are some self-learning and practice elements involved in coaching programmes that can be delivered more efficiently with the use of technology. Things like personality and motivational tests, quizzes, self-assessments or even 360-degree feedback can be delivered online and to more people than ever without the need for heavy human interaction.

Changing the challenge of scale

We might not be able or want to replace skilled coaches, but this is where the scale gets stuck. A coach can or will want to take on a finite number of hours in a day before overloading themselves – but this limitation is where the opportunity exists.

Coaching can immediately become more scalable if a coach can shift from interacting with one coachee in 60 minutes to four coachees in the same amount of time. Changing the traditional approach of set hours and times to delivering coaching in a more app-based short burst of engagement might be the future of scaled coaching.

Of course, faster doesn't always mean better, and in a human-centric intervention like coaching, you shouldn't impact value in speed and scale at the expense of value or quality. Can a quick ‘burst’ be effective?

Our working habits have changed, and today's employees are completing their tasks interspersed with sharing comments and activities on social media and email throughout their day – often working between devices, including smartphones. By leveraging the ubiquity of mobile phones, snippets of coaching can be proactively ‘dripped’ into their busy work days.

This new approach to coaching can have some surprising benefits. Allowing employees to apply coaching ‘in the moment’ can drive rapid development and give coaches a new and valuable window into the coachee's progress. Did they gain a deep insight, or do they need some immediate constructive feedback to make sure they are doing enough to improve?

By setting expectations with coachees that they need to support this burst approach with a ‘journal’ privately, a coach can quickly see their progress and send them quick notes of encouragement, redirection, or ‘nudges’. This only takes a few moments for the coachee and the coach and still deliver a personalised experience.

Ultimately, organisations need to consider how to best tackle the growing attraction retention and development challenges. Opening up the power of coaching across your employee population can enhance your returns, helping to identify and retain talent. The feeling of being valued and individually invested in is a powerful motivator for employees and encourages greater engagement and company advocacy.

Interested in this topic? Read Personal development: why today’s young leaders need individual coaching and mentoring.

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