When it comes to personalized employee development, there isn’t a single right way to do it well. Effective L&D programs are as diverse and numerous as companies themselves. Yet, coaching remains a fundamental tool for increasing skill levels, employee engagement, and organizational efficiency. Whether the coaching takes place in the physical workplace or online, it can have a significant impact on the business’s bottom line.
Let’s take a look at what L&D coaching is and how it benefits employees and their employers.
What Sets Employee Coaching Apart
The combination of coaching and development provides distinctive returns, because it differs from other types of professional instruction. At GrowthSpace, we call our L&D program leaders ‘experts’, and divide our experts into three categories:
- Trainers, who provide short-term instruction in a specific field
- Mentors, business insiders who leverage their knowledge, skills, and experience to help in the development of an employee, often over the long term, through frequent contact and instruction, and
- Coaches, ICF certified, outsiders who offer advice and help employees develop specific soft skills, enabling the employee to reach their full potential now and in the long term
A coach’s job is to help people take action towards achieving their goals, whatever those goals may be. A ‘clean coach’ is somebody who acts as a guide for an employee to “discover their own authentic path”. Instead of telling them what to do, as a mentor or trainer might, a coach will think together with an employee and guide them to identify strengths, weaknesses, and avenues for improvement.
Another characteristic of clean coaching is that the coach does not have any expertise in the employee’s area of work, and so does not bring any bias along with them in terms of how to do a certain job.
Benefits of Coaching in the Workplace
For these reasons, it is often necessary that the coach be present with the employee as they go about their daily tasks. This gives the coach a sense of what the employee does, enabling the coach to optimize for personalized employee development, with these additional benefits:
- A thorough understanding of the environment
Employees with the same job description will have certain aspects of work in common, while other aspects will be totally unique. For example, every customer service manager must understand challenges faced by their clients, and be able to translate those into requirements for the customer service staff. But each person is different, as are many other factors that affect the manager’s performance; everything from service staff skill mix to the length of their morning commute. By being physically present at an employee’s job, a good coach can most effectively identify factors that have a decisive influence.
- A view of interactions with subordinates, peers, and managers
Nobody works in a vacuum, and viewing how an employee communicates with other staffers at all levels is essential. For coaches to map a proper method of improvement, meeting participants in their place of work can offer the coach important insights into understanding how their client interacts with others and can help their participant deal with colleagues, especially if they’ve had issues communicating with someone specific in the past.
Benefits of Online Coaching
Coaching at the workplace is not always possible, especially for hybrid or remote teams. The pandemic forced many L&D coaching programs to go online, where its unique advantages were reiterated:
- Greater access to renowned coaches of different types
With online coaching, an employee can potentially learn from the world’s most acclaimed expert in their field. Employees who natively speak non-English can easily find a coach that speaks their language, which may be more helpful for the employee, and for employees with unique challenges, the number of coaches increases greatly without needing to be local.
- The advantages of convenience
Scheduling, pace of instruction, lower cost, access to multimedia, and comfort are among the advantages provided by remote coaching. With many employees working from home, online coaching is the best option. For the business, online coaching can also mean that employees optimize their time spent at essential tasks by scheduling coaching programs during off-peak hours.
Benefits to the Bottom Line
The business advantages of offering employee coaching can be boiled down to two words: increased profitability.
- Higher levels of employee retention and engagement
Employees who receive coaching interpret this as a sign that their company is investing in them, and that they will have more marketable skills as a result. That’s why a whopping 94% of employees would remain with a company longer if it invested in their professional development.
However, this assumes that the coaching program is conducted properly – which is often not the case. Despite spending approximately $12 billion on coaching this year, organizations are not seeing great returns, as only 21% of employees feel that they receive highly effective coaching.
The Missing Piece(s)
Coaching provides considerable advantages for companies by giving employees a chance to develop soft skills that can truly help them be better employees – whether that learned skill is to be more productive, a better communicator, more focused.
But to truly be successful, employees need the right coach for the job. There are many challenges when it comes to delivering effective coaching, including:
- Determining the exact professional area in need of coaching (for example, verbal communications towards superiors, compared to general communication skills)
- Finding the best coach for the job
- Measuring the success of the program and of the coach
- And, perhaps most importantly, scaling the program for tens or hundreds of employees
To really make the most of L&D coaching initiatives, companies need to find solutions that solve these issues. No matter if you’re dealing with tens, hundreds, or thousands of employees, the right L&D platform is crucial for providing value to both the employee and overall organization. The wrong L&D platform or a coach irrelevant to the employee’s or organizations’ needs will leave employees unsatisfied, the L&D budget drained, and offer no ROI to the business.
Find out how GrowthSpace experts – from coaches to mentors to trainers – empower your employees with relevant, personalized L&D programs and enable your organization to succeed with more engaged, eager employees.