Coaching and feedback are different but powerful tools that should be part of every workplace. In the new world of work, coaching brings a range of powerful benefits. When employees receive coaching, studies show that 70% improve their performance and relationships, they become better communicators, and their confidence increases. Additionally, research from the Human Capital Institute found that 51% of organizations with strong coaching cultures report a higher revenue than their peers and nearly two-thirds of their employees rate themselves as highly engaged.
The return on investment (ROI) for coaching is high. The International Coaching Federation (ICF)’s Global Coaching Client Study found that nearly 90% of organizations surveyed made back their initial investment, 28% saw an ROI of 10 to 49 times their investment, and 19% indicated an ROI of 50 times their investment. The receivers of the coaching benefit too — 99% of individuals and companies who hire a coach are “satisfied or very satisfied,” and 96% say they would repeat the process.
While the term “coaching” is often confused with training, mentoring or consulting, true coaching is about supporting people in achieving their potential: It’s positive and forward-moving. Coaching includes honest feedback and accountability as well as strategies to help people overcome roadblocks to achieve better performance.
There are many ways to create a culture of coaching. One way is to leverage the expertise that already exists within your organization. Some tools can create a structure and process for peer coaching across your organization, and others use video assignments to enhance coaching and feedback. Another option is to hire a coaching provider to support your workforce.
Perhaps your most powerful and affordable option is to train your managers. Managers are the most influential relationship any of your employees will have at your organization. They create the day-to-day experience and enliven, or undermine, your organization’s values and mission. In fact, Managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement, and 84% of workers say that poorly trained managers create a lot of unnecessary stress. In addition, one-half of employees feel their own performance would improve if their boss received the right manager training.
When given the right training, managers not only improve, they can become the “secret sauce” that turns a good organization into a great one. Gallup research shows that good managers increase the productivity and engagement of their teams as well as attract new top performers.
Without a doubt, manager training is your single most impactful training investment, especially when you teach managers how to coach others effectively. There are two primary coaching styles that all managers should use: skill and clarity. Both types are meant to be used together, like sliding scales, shifting the percentages to match the employee’s stage of professional development.
Skill coaching is intentionally directive because the manager transfers their knowledge and experience through a series of training sessions and conversations. Whereas clarity coaching helps people tap into their own wisdom for solving problems. It’s ideal for more experienced employees who leave sessions with an action plan, often energized by their “Aha! moments.”
Managers can use several tools when skill coaching, including teaching or training sessions; demonstration and opportunities for observational learning; SMART goals; appropriate recognition and rewards; and deliberate practice with feedback.
Dr. Anders Ericsson, author of “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise,” studied peak performers from various fields. His research shows that it’s not just putting in hours that creates mastery but rather the right kind of practice. He identified three levels:
- Naive or mindless practice has no specific goals or feedback; it’s just blindly trying and hoping.
- Purposeful practice has well-defined goals and clear targets, a plan of small steps to accomplish those goals, internal feedback to know when off track, and constant effort outside of the current comfort zone.
- Deliberate practice is purposeful practice informed by the guidance of an expert coach who provides feedback leading to the development of internal self-monitoring.
So, the ideal combination is practice plus coaching because feedback allows us to benchmark our skill level and make the necessary adjustments to improve. The goal of training events should be to teach managers and employees new skills and also offer a clear process for deliberate practice and effective coaching.
Besides coaching, managers also benefit from training on how and when to provide the right kind of feedback. When they get it wrong, your organization is likely to struggle with disengagement and turnover.
One Gallup study found that the quality of manager feedback is directly tied to employee engagement as well as turnover. They found that manager feedback tends to leave employees with either negative feelings (like feeling criticized, demotivated, disappointed or depressed) or positive emotions (like being inspired to improve or clear about knowing how to do their work better).
The impact was very clear: Of those employees who had negative feelings after feedback, 89% were actively disengaged or not engaged. In addition, 29% were actively looking for work, and another 50% were passively looking. Compare this to the group with positive feelings: 58% were not looking at all, and only 3.6% were actively looking. This wasn’t just a split among high- and low-performing employees — most people want to improve and appreciate when they are supported in doing so.
Even tough feedback that is hard to hear should help employees improve and encourage them to want to. Gallup also found that employees who strongly agree that their manager holds them accountable for their performance are 2.5x more likely to be engaged.
Given the impact The Great Resignation has on every industry, training your managers on how to coach and give effective feedback can pay off in all kinds of ways. A coaching culture focuses on helping people reach for and achieve their potential and, in doing so, creates a more capable, engaged and accountable workforce — one that drives phenomenal results.