Coaching has been around for thousands of years. Ancient Olympians had coaches to help them train and prepare for competition. Socrates lost his life for it. Machiavelli gave us The Prince, a booklet on self-coaching. Today, coaching is a must in athletics from a very young age. Also, many professionals seek the guidance of a life coach to do better in their professional and personal life. Here, the focus is on coaching as a tool in HR and L&D.

Bersin by Deloitte research on L&D capabilities shows coaching nestled under “alignment,” one of the three L&D capabilities (the other two are “effectiveness” and “efficiency”) necessary to better align with the lines of business in an organization. Specifically, the research reveals companies that encourage coaching have 42 percent higher productivity and are 75 percent more likely to be better at managing talent including hiring, developing and retaining employees. Coaching has been confused with several other tools and methodologies including mentoring, performance management, employee counseling and performance feedback. Coaching is none of the above. And therein is its special bridging capacity. Coaching is an exploratory and purposeful conversation between two people to create an environment of trust. It’s usually freely offered and received by choice.

There are several variations of coaching.

“Coaching is a habit and can be learned and practiced in 5-10 minute increments both for short term and long term performance,” said Michael Bungay Stanier, founder and senior partner at Box of Crayons and best-selling author.

He discusses three fundamental tips for coaching:

1)     Leverage useful tools such as the The Drama Triangle, introduced in 1968 by Stephen Karpman, M.D. The triangle demonstrates the connection between personal responsibility and power in conflicts, and the destructive and shifting roles people play (persecutor, victim, and rescuer).

2)     As coach, learn to stay out of the triangle as long as possible

3)     Help those you coach do the same.

To do so, we can learn basic questions to start and close a coaching conversation and in the process build a coaching relationship. Coaching can be done on a daily basis with peers, direct reports, managers and even vendors and clients. This is a starting point for building coaching skills and further learning, training and even certifications are available for those committed to coaching as a discipline.

Zooming out to the broader L&D narrative, coaching is a critical component and a solid way to bridge human resource requirements and talent management. Effective coaching can be done amongst peers, it doesn’t require costly training to learn or to implement. When done well, it can deliver good results: solutions to short-term problems, answers to long-term decisions and happier, more engaged employees. The core of coaching means someone else cares enough to listen, ask engaging questions and help the person coached realize that they probably had the answer within them all along but couldn’t see it through the clouds of emotion.

Today coaching isn’t much different than the Socratic Method, which Socrates coined. Human resource and talent development managers can recommend this easy to apply, virtually zero-cost, results delivering tool their employees can use and tackle work issues, develop themselves and work better with their peers. Human resource and L&D leaders can consider coaching learning solutions to further develop their talent.