Why Some Companies Look Outside for Coaching
You might need a little outside help? It's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. There are very sound reasons why, on occasion, businesses venture outside for assistance in the area of coaching and mentoring. They include:
Lessons in professionalism
Managerial sea changes
Technology and Its Demanding Nature
Courtesy of advances in technology, altogether new and improved skills are needed to fill countless jobs in the workplace. The skills demanded yesterday are not the same as the skills demanded today. And, guaranteed, tomorrow's technology will require a whole new level of work-related skills to get the job done and to optimally run the show.
What this all means is that companies are sometimes compelled to hire external coaches who can acclimate their workforce to the essential skills needed to remain competitive.
Can anybody be a coaching consultant?
Today, anybody can place an ad in the yellow pages advertising his or her services as a “coach.” No special education or accrediting is necessary. However, calling oneself a coach and being a competent one are two entirely different animals. Before getting any work, you are going to have to show prospective clients what you can deliver.
External coaches also play significant roles in tutoring managers and employees alike on the right and proper behaviors in the workplace. Among many things, knowing how to behave is indispensable for career advancement. This may sound like third-grade stuff, but it's a monumental problem in the labor force as a whole.
That is, the modern-day educational system is graduating a lot of students who, besides not being able to read and write up to snuff, do not know how to deport themselves as professionals in work settings.
The retail and service sectors of the economy expose this reality for all to see. For instance, you walk into some stores and are treated like the Invisible Man or the Invisible Woman. You're ignored and viewed as a veritable intruder. Where are the managers in these noxious work environments, you ask? The managers are right there, actively participating in the inappropriate behaviors. Indeed, coaching and mentoring's next conquest is the retail and service sectors of the economy.
External coaches are regularly brought into companies to deal with complex relationship problems. An example of one such multi-layered people problem revolves around the challenges facing newly promoted employees in managerial roles. That is, fledgling managers now lording over subordinates who were, only a snapshot in time ago, their peers and pals.
Career Paths and Matters of Trust
External coaches sometimes serve as sounding boards and advisors for career development, providing help to the manager or employee being groomed for a new job and new set of challenges. An example of this is a coach hired to counsel and train a promoted employee who finds himself in the role of boss presiding over a coven of his
“Our people are our greatest asset.” So that's the cause of all that laughter emanating from the lunchroom of Company XYZ. The employees there have just been handed the company's Mission Statement. In your career travels, you may have encountered this rather cloying sentiment in an annual report or company newsletter. It has become something of a corporate cliché. And, because it's not intended to get laughs, it's not very funny. A company that makes use of this “our people are our greatest asset” motto and doesn't really mean it has a serious problem on its hands.
In 1964, Yogi Berra took the helm as New York Yankees manager. He simultaneously retired from the game, finding himself boss of a roster of former teammates. Despite Berra winning the American League pennant that year, he was unceremoniously dumped after the season. He was not, it seems, accepted and respected in his new job role.
The best and brightest in the labor pool gravitate to the companies that genuinely believe in providing their employees with more on-the-job responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities for genuine advancement. In other words, places that truly view employees as their “greatest assets.” On the other hand, companies that spout empty platitudes and offer vague promises won't attract the best and brightest to their doors.
There's nothing more depressing than a work environment where employees know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're being used and abused for one purpose only — to get the most work out of them for the least amount of compensation. People don't want to feel that they are as expendable as yesterday's news.
Coaching and mentoring embody the antithesis of this dog-eat-dog management philosophy. This managerial methodology aims to build commitment in employees from the ground up. It seeks to enhance employees' skills by furnishing them atmospheres of perpetual learning that are replete with responsibilities and challenges worthy of their personalities and unique talents. But the reality is that companies who sincerely desire such enlightened workplaces may, in fact, require outside help in letting employees know that they're serious about making people their greatest assets.
External coaches are also brought into companies that are in dire need of a change in managerial attitudes and approaches in leadership. Often these outside coaches work with line managers, team leaders, supervisors, and fresh managerial talents, to tutor them in the ways of coaching and mentoring — ways that are both satisfying to employees and pleasing to the company's bottom line.
If you, in any managerial position, require assistance in making the transition from directive-style managing to coaching, an external coach is something worth considering. Keep your eyes and ears open at seminars and conferences for these outside coaching specialists. Look for the right fit. Not all external consultants are created equal. These professionals have different specialties and methods, and get different results, too.
The typical manager of today, as well as the manager of tomorrow, does not possess coaching and mentoring DNA. It's not something you are born with. Nevertheless, a one-on-one coaching education can perform miracles in schooling self-motivated managers and others on the procedures of coaching and mentoring. And what this means is on-the-job training — not sterile classroom lessons — where real results can be observed, discussed, and fine-tuned.
If you need an external coach to supplement your own coaching efforts, check out the human resources department in your own company for possible leads. Look into seminars, professional organizations that are dedicated to training coaches, and the various publications in the field of coaching and mentoring.
There are plenty of conferences, seminars, and workshops that teach coaching and mentoring tools and techniques, including the “secrets” to managing as a coach and behaving as a trusted mentor. In addition, there are comprehensive training videos readily available that offer up hours upon hours of instruction, which you can watch at your leisure in the comfort of your home, if that's what your heart desires.
No matter how you look at it, though, coaching and mentoring, whether internal or external in nature, are all about uplifting employee performance. In whatever guise, the mission is to overhaul the structure and culture of the workplace. Coaching and mentoring ask always for positive and consistent communication between managers and employees.
As a matter of fact — and you may have personally experienced this in performance planning — coaching and mentoring bring employees into the heart of the business operation by making them an essential part of it. Employees are coached not to be mere clock punchers, but, rather, to fly metaphorical missions — missions that improve their lives by making their job roles both meaningful and satisfying.
Linking today's job with tomorrow's job, and the job after that, is what rock-solid coaching and mentoring accomplish. Linking job satisfaction with life satisfaction is also what rock-solid coaching and mentoring accomplish.