We talk a lot about the positive impact coaching can have in your organization. It can improve retention, employee engagement, productivity, and commitment, and has even been shown to improve revenue numbers. But like any change initiative, even the most effective coaching initiatives risk become flash-in-the-pan successes without a solid plan for building coaching consistency.
Earn Consistency with Consistency
GIGO is an acronym used in computer science; it means Garbage In, Garbage Out, and is a simple, but undeniably true assessment of what happens when you have bad input—you get bad output. The concept of GIGO holds true beyond the realms of computer science and is applicable for more than just “garbage” input. Coaching, for example, is one such place you can see this concept hold true.
In life, and business, what you get out of something is almost always directly reflected by what you first put into it.
Conveniently, if you know what results you want from a project you can move backward from there to see what you need to be putting into said project.
If, for instance, you have a coaching culture that you want to receive consistent, effective coaching results from, you need to feed it consistency on your end of the program.
Now, a lot of the efforts to make coaching consistent will fall directly onto managers and others who are coaching. But since you are looking at the consistency of results from the coaching program or culture as a whole, there are a few, more systemic solutions, that as an HR manager or director, fall directly into your purview.
There are four general areas that you should consider as you look to ensure consistency within your coaching program.
Have you made it relevant?
When it comes time for your managers to coach, they’re going to ask whether coaching is relevant—either in relation to the organizational agenda, or in terms of reaching the stated goals of the organization.
If the answer to that question is no, then you can safely assume that your managers won’t end up coaching.
So, if you want to increase the consistency within which your organization sees coaching happening, you need to make it relevant.
- Make coaching part of the organizational agenda, have coaching be a topic covered in meetings, have strategic discussions focused on coaching, keep it at the forefront of the minds of your organization’s members. If people are constantly hear about coaching and coaching benefits, when it comes time to coach, they will feel like coaching is relevant.
- You also keep coaching relevant by ensuring that you’ve made it clear how coaching will help reach your organization’s stated goals. For example, say your organization wants to increase the effectiveness of the most recent trainings? You would want to make sure you emphasized that alone, training might increase productivity by 22.4%, but when coupled with coaching, productivity can increase by 88%. You can bet that your managers will see coaching as relevant when they see how closely linked it is to their goals.
There’s a high chance that whatever your organization’s goals, coaching can help you achieve that goal. Look at the ways that coaching relates and adds to your organizational goals, and then make sure to emphasize these benefits for the rest of the organization to see.
Have you taught them what to do?
At a more basic level, your managers—and others operating as coaches—are going to want to be at least somewhat comfortable with coaching. Comfortable can have a number of different implications in this situation, but the most important, and most basic, is that your coaches need to have been taught how to coach.
This may seem overly simplistic, but make sure that your organization has trains everyone on how to coach. And yes, it will help to train everyone—from individual contributors to executives—not just the coaches. After all, if you want to create a coaching culture, you can’t leave the majority of your organization out of the loop. Additionally, both coaches and coachees will feel more comfortable and find it easier to contribute their part during coaching conversations if they understand how coaching works.
Of course, you may decide you need additional training sessions particularly for those who will act as coach, but these should be to help your coaches build up their coaching abilities beyond that first basic training. Learning does not happen all at once. True learning is built upon by acting upon the knowledge received, and by coming back regularly to ensure that the foundations are solid.
If you’ve had a coaching program going for a while, and you’re frustrated because you haven’t been getting the results you’ve been looking for. It may be time to consider if a re-training will help your managers get back into a coaching mindset and rebuild the competency they need to be good coaches. A re-training will help emphasize that coaching is something your organization is serious about.
Do they have the support they need?
Hand in hand with ensuring that your organization has the learning they need, you must walk the balancing act to ensure you aren’t inadvertently overwhelming your organization.
When looking at coaching programs for your organization, try and find the coaching program that fits best with your organization without adding unnecessary complexity. Complexity can often be an invitation to catastrophe, keep it simple.
Even when keeping it simple though, you want to have a support system for your coaches. That position of support often falls to you. But in your role, you don’t have the time or means to coach everyone. You can, however, ensure that there is a support system for questions. A place or person where coaches can go to get coached themselves and to get answers to questions.
Along with this, it’s important to check in and follow up with the coaches within your organization. This has shades of both relevance and accountability; it keeps coaching at the forefront of your coaches minds, because they know they’ll be asked if they’re actively coaching in a way that serves to hold them accountable. Beyond that, follow up is a key tenet to coaching, and they will appreciate the knowledge that they’re not coaching in isolation.
Have you established accountability metrics?
At the end of it all, your coaches are going to want to see some recognition for coaching. One of the most effective ways to shut down coaching success, is to fail to recognize it.
There are two types of recognition that your organization needs: a system of measurement and a method of reward.
- Make coaching measurable. Before something becomes measurable it exists in a nebulous world where there are no easy indicators for either success or progress. Without a system of measurement, people may start coaching, but the chances of the coaching consistently after they start goes down because they lack a measuring stick for the progress they are making. Without a measurement for success, it’s impossible to reach success. A thoroughly frustrating state of affairs.
- This leads to the second necessary form of recognition. Recognizing and rewarding successful coaching where it’s found. Rewarding well-done coaching encourages those who were rewarded to continue coaching at the same time it encourages others to achieve the same level.
There is no specific system of measurement or form of reward that works for all organizations. That’s something that you, in your role of HR Manager will be best equipped to figure out and implement. But it may be worth considering having measurement and reward that takes into account both lead and lag metrics. You want to encourage signs that things are going right just as much as you want to encourage reaching the wanted end result.
Be careful, of course, not to make metrics your end all, be all. Metrics can help your organization see where it’s going right, but, when treated as the only goal, limit your organization. True success happens, not when you are enforcing metrics, but when the members of your organization are taking ownership in being good coaches who reach those metrics, and then go beyond.
Are you being consistent?
These four components together are known as RLAA (pronounced relay) and they help ensure that improvement is consistent both company-wide and long-term.
The key, of course, comes back to GIGO. What you put in, is what you get out. If you use RLAA consistently, you’ll get consistent high-quality results. Unfortunately, the moment you drop off your consistency, you chance the results of your organization’s coaching slipping as well.
If you want to learn more about how to build a coaching culture with high-quality, long-lasting results check out this article about the value of a high-impact coaching culture.