It’s not farfetched to say that coaching in the workplace is currently one of the biggest trends in the business world.
Coaching in the workplace has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and it’s becoming more common for organizations to offer programs to every employee, regardless of their title or position in the organizational chart. 54% of leaders in HR are planning to grow their coaching programs in 2022. In a landscape where companies are struggling to retain top talent and keep people engaged, investing in your people through coaching can give your organization a competitive edge.
With coaching, experienced team members assist less proficient co-workers to develop that individual's skills, performance, and career. It's an approach to team development that can play a powerful role in employee experience and development by helping employees transition into new roles, improve their skills, and identify strengths and talents.
Organizations are turning to coaching because it benefits everyone involved. When employees have an avenue for improving their skills so they can do their jobs well, it leads to the growth of individuals and the organization as a whole. Here are several ways coaching can make a difference.
Setting career goals is often a challenge for people, especially when they are just starting out. They may not know what their options are or how to get where they want to go. Workplace coaching is a powerful tool for helping your teams evaluate and achieve their goals. Coaching creates a structured and supportive environment where employees can work through issues that are holding them back.
Engagement is declining in the workplace—in 2021, only 34% of employees felt engaged. Coaching can increase engagement by making employees feel more involved in their careers by providing opportunities for career development. A high level of engagement boosts productivity while decreasing work-related stress and burnout potential.
Workplace coaching also develops relationships and facilitates collaborative feedback loops that foster a healthy environment for both giving and receiving feedback. It benefits employees by helping them understand what's happening within their team and pursue solutions that facilitate collaborative interactions.
Employees are less likely to leave when you invest in their development. When you use coaching to hone the unique talents and strengths of your people, they’re more likely to be excited about their work, which can increase the probability they’ll stay with your company for a longer period of time.
Coaching can help a person discover strengths they didn’t know they had. By working with a coach, people can step outside their comfort zone and identify new skills they may need to better perform their jobs. It also gives them a chance to experiment with new ways of doing things that they wouldn't have tried without external encouragement and support.
Putting together a full-blown coaching program can be challenging because it requires a lot of planning and approvals, but you can test the waters without spending a lot of time and expense by employing micro-coaching. Think of micro-coaching as coaching in the flow of work—it’s the practice of using short and informal but targeted conversations that focus on real-time situations and the immediate needs of employees.
If you want to get started right away without spinning up a formal program, you can begin by coaching employees “in the moment,” which is an anytime, anyplace form of coaching. This can be as simple as helping someone with a situation in real time so that person can apply the coaching immediately.
Many managers and leaders may not realize that each time they give feedback, complete a performance review, or assist with goal setting, they’re practicing coaching in the moment. For example, if a team member is struggling with a task, asking an open-ended question, like "do you want a solution or do you just need to vent?" can lead to a natural coaching moment. To make this a more formal process, managers and leaders should actively look for opportunities to provide assistance in the moment.
Peer coaching is more informal than one-on-one coaching, so employees feel more comfortable asking questions, discussing issues, and working collaboratively on projects. The goal of peer coaching is to help two or more co-workers guide each other and solve problems together, so they can improve their skills. Anyone inside your organization can participate in peer coaching; they just need a facilitator to put them in the right situation.
A peer coaching program can be as simple as connecting two people to observe each other, ask questions, and provide feedback. When peers ask each other the right questions and offer thoughtful feedback, they help each other find their own answers.
Event-driven coaching is another informal method—it’s similar to in-the-moment coaching, but it’s prompted by a specific but spontaneous event. This is more along the lines of a “teachable moment,” where feedback is delivered on the spot and happens during the normal course of work. Event-driven coaching is subtle, so it works well for sensitive subjects or when the coaching needs to be more discreet.
For example, if a data entry mistake is caught before it creates a problem, a manager can have a conversation with the team member to find out what’s going on with them and if they need help. When using this method, make sure your intentions are clear and you’re providing constructive feedback rather than criticizing or challenging them.
To get coaching right, it’s important to understand how it differs from training or mentoring. Training is a more formal process that concentrates on teaching employees how to do something specific, whereas workplace coaching guides people through a learning process that involves adopting new behaviors rather than simply teaching them how to do something new.
Coaching is an ongoing process where employees partner with a coach to identify goals, create a plan of action, and develop new skills based on what they're trying to achieve. Mentorship also focuses on achieving a goal, but it’s more about learning from someone else’s experience rather than relying on their guidance.