The Coaching Conundrum Report 2009
Building a coaching culture that drives organizational success
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Based on 60 interviews with business and HR leaders, a global survey of 2,000+ employees & managers and an analysis of 8,000 manager assessments, The Coaching Conundrum 2009 is BlessingWhite’s latest analysis of the opportunities and challenges of building a coaching culture. Building on previous reports it provides best practice and practical guidelines to help organizations craft an effective coaching strategy.
Organizations and leaders worldwide are struggling to reap the rewards that coaching promises. Our findings paint a puzzling picture of good intentions, missed opportunities, and conflicting messages about the importance of coaching of employees by managers. We’re faced with a coaching conundrum.
Many organizations provide lip-service to the value that managers’ coaching activities have on the business, workforce engagement, and strategic talent management. Few have succeeded in creating cultures where coaching of employees is a regular, fully supported, and rewarded managerial practice.
Individual leaders appear to experience a similar disconnect between words and daily behaviors. Some are true believers in the power of coaching to drive team productivity, effectiveness, and engagement. They coach employees regardless of organizational mandates because it is simply their style of leadership. The majority of leaders appear to be caught up in a tug of war of competing priorities, well-meaning goals around coaching, and an ambivalent organizational culture. They like to coach, know they should, but don’t get around to doing it with any regularity.
This report presents the following disconnects:
Most managers love to coach, and most employees like to be coached.
BUT… Only 1 in 2 survey respondents in North America and Asia receive coaching
(even fewer in Europe).
Organizations, managers, and employees appear to believe in coaching’s contribution to their success.
BUT… Managers sheepishly admit they don’t spend enough time coaching.
The large majority of managers are expected to coach.
BUT… Only one-quarter have compensation tied to their coaching activities.
Managers who coach regularly describe tangible benefits (e.g., increased team productivity).
AND… Two-thirds of employees who receive coaching say it improved their satisfaction and performance.
BUT… Coaching is often described as an almost-altruistic behavior to support employee needs or a strategy for building a talent pipeline. It is seen as something to do in addition to managers’ daily work.
Managers worry about having all the answers.
BUT… Employees want to be stretched and want help sorting through problems. They don’t want advice.
Organizations and managers talk a lot about coaching skills and processes.
BUT… A trusting, supportive relationship appears to be the most important ingredient in effective coaching.
Key implications and recommendations
Organizations need to avoid pigeon-holing coaching as a talent management practice because too often talent management takes a back seat to achieving immediate business results. They can’t rely on altruistic leadership and must hold managers accountable for coaching employees to higher levels of performance, career growth, and engagement.
Best practices for creating a successful coaching culture include:
- Tackle your next business problem with a coaching initiative. (See page 14.)
- Set new managers on the coaching track. (See page 15.)
- Think beyond coaching skills. (See page 16.)
- Coach the coaches. (See page 17.)
- Build belief and backbone into your culture. (See page 19.)
Managers need to stop thinking of coaching as an event they schedule after their own work gets done or a reaction to a performance issue. The role of “coach” isn’t something that they should turn on or off. They need to adopt coaching as a daily leadership practice and focus on creating a supportive, encouraging, and trusting environment for their teams.
Ten tips for becoming successful coaching leaders begin on page 21.
Contents of the report
The conundrum in a nutshell . P1
Why explore coaching? P3
Why explore coaching now? P3
What is coaching? P4
What is a coaching culture? P5
Key findings . P7
Recommendations for organizations P14
10 tips for becoming a coaching leader P21
Final thoughts P25
About this report P26