February 2012
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TD Magazine

Cultivate a Coaching Culture

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Investment in employee coaching is well worth the effort. Bersin & Associates research shows that organizations with strong coaching cultures deliver superior results.



Organizations' investment in coaching for performance management has increased 10 percent within the past three years in response to economic difficulties, the rise of a younger generation in the workplace, and globalization, according to Bersin & Associates. "A New Era of Performance Management," an article in the October 2011 issue of T+D, unpacked findings from the Bersin report, High-Impact Performance Management: Part 1Designing a Strategy for Effectiveness.

In November, Bersin released Maximizing Performance Coaching, part two of its five-part study of 214 global, multi-industry organizations. According to this second report, companies with strong coaching cultures deliver superior results, coaching can be taught, and certain coaching behaviors are more critical than others.

The study found that organizations that are highly effective at teaching coaching are 26 percent more effective at holding costs than their competitors. "We think coaching helps the cost-control effort by providing targeted support and feedback mechanisms for individuals, which generally makes employees more efficient," explains Stacia Sherman Garr, senior analyst at Bersin & Associates. Additionally, the research shows that organizations in which senior leaders coach "very frequently" boast 21 percent higher business results, and organizations with "excellent" cultural support for coaching enjoy 13 percent stronger business results and 39 percent stronger employee results.

The report recommends a three-pronged approach to cultivating a high-performance coaching culture that involves targeted efforts by senior leaders, managers, and HR professionals. HR can implement the following strategies to create an environment that supports, teaches, and measures coaching: Ensure that coaching is the right approach; determine the level of alignment between coaching and the critical tasks, culture, and structure of the organization; and develop an effective method to teach coaching. Also, to gain senior-level coaching support, HR can segment the senior leader population into four categories--true believers, regulars, fair weather fans, and agnostics--and craft a strategy for each group.

While the study does not suggest specific coaching models, it identifies universal coaching best practices such as active listening, positive behavior reinforcement, and the use of open-ended questions.


According to Garr, great coaching programs include a behavioral pre-assessment to encourage participant self-reflection and goal setting; senior leader buy-in that includes initial problem identification and program championing; and ongoing, iterative coaching and on-the-job practice to effect behavior change.


About the Author

Community of Practice Manager, ATD  Ann Parker is senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content.

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