One Simple Way to Improve Coaching
So here’s a really simple suggestion to improve the effectiveness of coaching.
Surveys show that less than 19% of HR professionals believe that the coaching going on in their business is effective. One common way of trying to trying to improve on this figure is to have clear objectives for the coaching that are agreed with the coachee’s line manager and/or HR.
Another common tactic, that goes one step further, is to involve the coachee’s manager in the coaching process through getting them to sign off on the coaching objectives and then inviting them to a progress review meeting either at the end of the coaching or after a certain number of sessions.
We know, however, that the working context of individual’s is a bigger predictor of the effectiveness of coaching than what actually happens in the coaching sessions. And we know that the biggest single part of this context is the coachee’s relationship with their manager. Yet the type of involvement we have described above feels very limited and after-the-fact.
So recently we have been experimenting with involving the manager more in the coaching process, yet without taking up lots of their time. Rather than just involving the manager at the beginning and the end of the coaching, we involve them in every session, by simply scheduling a 5 to 10 minute call with them at the end of each session. During this call, we briefly describe the key actions that the coachee has committed to during the session and discuss ways in which the manager can support the coachee. These 5 to 10 minute mini-sessions thus act as a kind of coaching for the manager in how to better support their people’s development.
We make sure to not break confidentiality by not going into details with the manager about what the individual said – we just focus on the actions that they are going to take as a result of the coaching session. And sometimes, where coaches are comfortable with it, we even phone the manager with the coachee still in the room.
This adds very little to over cost of the coaching, but does bring managers far more into the coaching process and provides the opportunity to coach them on how to support their people.
We are still in the process of completing a proper evaluation study of this new method, but all the early indications are that it significantly improves the chances that coaching will lead to genuine behaviour change.