Firstly, let’s look at what coaching is. Many people assume a coach gives advice and tells their coachee what to do. Whilst that may occasionally happen, advising and telling are generally the last things a well trained coach will do. Fundamentally in coaching, the person or team being coached has the answers and the coach’s role is to guide and support coachees to explore their ideas and decide for themselves what the right course of action should be.
Coaching is a solutions-focused, goal orientated process that helps develop new perspectives and a greater understanding of strengths. When coachees are engaged and committed to learning, and when the coach builds sufficient trust and challenges the coachees appropriately, the engagement can be highly empowering. It can enable coachees to break through long-term barriers that were blocking their success. As a result, new skills and confidence can be developed and goals that once seemed to be impossible dreams become defined and actionable.
What does this have to do with wellbeing and performance?
Most of us feel pretty stretched and challenged with day to day life, in and out of work. Even finding the right balance between the two can be a challenge. As a result, it’s easy to start feeling stressed and when we get too overwhelmed our creative ability to develop ideas and solutions starts to shut down. That makes it very easy to get stuck in the problem. When we don’t feel equipped with the right skills, resources or support, we often start to lose confidence in our ability to deliver. If communication channels within an organisation aren’t up to scratch or if employees don’t feel included in or connected to the goals and purpose of their team or organisation, it’s very common for engagement levels to drop. In the long run, innovation, productivity and attrition rates can all be negatively impacted.
Whilst studying for my Masters in Business Coaching, I completed a research project looking at the ways in which coaching supports an extensive list of factors each contributing to wellbeing, therefore impacting our ability to perform at our best. Coaching can:
- Build resilience and self-efficacy
- Help us to understand and utilise our strengths
- Find meaning and purpose in what we do
- Develop a sense of autonomy and security
- Improve communication skills and relationships
- Learn new skills and establish resources
Furthermore, engagement levels can improve when an initiative such as coaching is implemented, because it makes employees feel supported and invested in. Interestingly, coaching can also have a ripple effect, meaning it’s not just the person or team receiving the coaching that reaps the rewards, those surrounding the coachees can also benefit. For example, an overwhelmed manager enters a coaching programme and as a result he/she develops new levels of emotional intelligence, learns ways to manage stress and improves his/her communication skills. As a result, members of the team they lead, the leadership team they are part and even their family and friends all have better interactions with the manager. Stress levels amongst the team improve, as do engagement levels and peers can learn from the changes they witness. This ripple effect can be incredibly powerful.
The workplace is often a highly competitive and stressful environment these days and many organisations have started to realise that investing in workplace well-being says a lot about their culture. Standing out as an employer of choice, therefore being able to attract, support and retain the right people to achieve long-term organisational success, is crucial. Whilst there are numerous ways to do this, all the evidence is pointing towards coaching as one very useful intervention that gets results and allows you to stand out as employer who really cares about your people.
Kate Flowerdew is a wellbeing coach, consultant and facilitator.