HR directors will gain if line managers take on coaching

We’ve recently undertaken extensive interviews with HR directorsas part of a major research project on maximising the strategic value and return on investment (ROI) of coaching in UK organisations. Frightening figures are already being revealed.

HR directors are telling us they want line managers to handle at least 80% of day-to-day people management issues. However, HR departments are, according to our research, currently getting involved 46% of the time. Hardly surprising then that HR professionals are not the strategic business partners they need to be.

This tells me that coaching is not being effectively embedded down-the-line in many organisations, and both time and money are being wasted on ineffective coaching interventions.

Some companies are doing it right, reporting ROI from coaching of 10-20 times what is spent. In these cases, it’s clear that enabling coaching at line manager level makes a significant contribution to an organisation’s bottom line.

The two most common mistakes madewhen trying to embed coaching down the line are:

  • Failure to gain buy-in (emotional and intellectual) and role-modelling of coaching leadership from senior players
  • Failure to measure the ROIof coaching effectiveness and to integrate coaching with existing business and HR processes: key performance indicators (KPIs), performance management, remuneration and succession planning etc.

So how can these issues be effectively addressed to make a significant difference to HR and coaching professionals’ confidence and competence to coach, challenge for high performance, handle difficult people, and provide regular, honest feedback?By addressing the lack of buy-in, ownership and role-modelling of coaching leadership from senior players.

This has a critical impact on the speed and effectiveness of managers fully embracing coaching. Too many senior players continue to use a command and control approach. They may micro-manage, become aggressive or passive, avoid confrontation, lack strategic perspective, fail to listen, or are weak at outlining expectations. They may also be inconsistent in how they delegate, or undermine any coaching culture that is being embedded.

HR professionals and coaches need to be more courageous in pointing out and putting a cost on these behaviours of senior management. Providing 360-degree feedback and sharpening appropriate coaching skills of senior people is critical. Not enough of this is happening at the moment.

Also, many organisations are missing a trick by failing to build an evaluation methodology into their coaching initiatives and not integrating coaching with their performance management processes at the outset. Identifying both hard business objectives -sales, profit, cost reductions etc -and soft behavioural measures is fundamental.

Organisations must link coaching with leadership behaviours, competencies and KPIs. They must also measure its effectiveness with 360-degree feedback and track progress through personal development plans.

These are powerful indicators that an empowering coaching leadership style is what is wanted and rewarded.

Carole Gaskell is chief executive officer of coaching specialist Full Potential Group

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