At North Highland, like at many other companies (I imagine), whenever we are doing something in the leadership development space, we know we will inevitably hear, “How will you measure success? What are the anticipated benefits of this program?” These are especially important questions in a consulting organization where this formula is prevalent:
Every hour of training = one hour away from client site = one hour less of billable time = one hour less of revenue.
For every program we do, we must be able to show what the firm has gained from sacrificing revenue. When we decided to roll out a coaching program, we knew the day would come when senior leadership asked how the program had improved our organization. After two years of hosting this program, we can easily show the many benefits that hit our ultimate bottom line. Here are a few we have found to be most important:
1. Creating a Skill Set That is Transferable to the Work We DoWhenever a group of consultants is trying to solve problems and see what they have learned, you can apply a tool they have mastered to the client site. Our coaching program did just that. I have had numerous emails from our consultants telling me how they used the tools and methods taught in our class with their employees and their clients. This type of endorsement is worth its weight in gold!
2. Confidence That Our Managers Can Develop Their PeopleThrough learning a shared language and practicing with tools that make difficult conversations easier, our people have gained tremendous confidence in their abilities to develop their people. That confidence has allowed them to give and receive feedback in a productive way that helps the organization grow and learn and perform at a higher level.
. CollaborationWe have 27 offices around the country and the United Kingdom. Our people do not get in a room with folks from the other offices or divisions that often. Providing a place where they can meet new colleagues and bond over the common challenge of people development has created collaboration that never would have existed otherwise. This day-and-a-half-long experience is a chance for people to bond in a way that creates trust and allows for relationships to build across all boundaries and geographies.
4. Shared Expectations and accountability.These go hand in hand. In our course we have shared with our coaches exactly what their role is and is not. They have, in turn, shared this with their coachees post class. This has created shared expectations that allow each to hold the other accountable in a collegial and amenable way on both sides of the relationship.
5. Creating a Vision of Being the Most Enviable CultureOur senior leadership announced a new vision in January 2019— to be the most enviable culture on the planet. If you are thinking, “Now that’s a lofty goal!” you would be right. This vision resonated with our people for many reasons, however—not the least of which was the coaching culture the firm had worked to develop over the previous two years. If senior leadership had not put their money where their mouth was back in 2017 and said that people development was important, the announcement of that vision would have fallen flat. Instead, it has been embraced and adopted and is helping to continue to transform our culture.
6. Attracting Talent in This Competitive MarketMillennials are the largest part of our workforce. According to the United States Department of Labor, within the next two years they will comprise 50 percent of the workforce and by 2030 they will comprise 75 percent. Given that statistic and the unbelievably low unemployment rate (3.6 percent at the time of this post), attracting and keeping talent is difficult at best. When surveyed, Millennials stated that their development as the most important aspect of their job choice. Having a strong employee value proposition is not only a nicety but a necessity. Our coaching program and the development it provides for people who join the firm has helped us continue to attract fabulous talent in this incredibly difficult people market.
7. Building Baseline Confidence on Having Hard ConversationsDifficult conversations are called difficult conversations because they are just that—difficult! No manager looks forward to having them, yet all managers will have to at some point. Having the language and skills to all give regular, effective feedback significantly decreases the likelihood of difficult conversations. On top of that, when the difficult situation arrives, our mangers feel much more prepared and confident that the conversation will go as well as possible, given the mindset they have developed throughout their training.
If you believe any of these outcomes would be important or helpful in your organization, we hope you will join us in our session, “Jazzing Up Your Coaching Culture” at ATD OrgDev. We are excited to meet you and help you create an awesome coaching culture!