As employers ask managers to step up and coach their employees,
they need to have a clear idea of the sometimes conflicting goals
"There are two clients in every coaching engagement - the
individual who's being developed and the organization that has
goals," said Paul Gorrell, principal at Partners in Human
Resources International, a member of OI Partners, and co-author
of The Coaching Connection. "The challenge is through [this]
singular process satisfying two distinct clients."
In the book, Gorrell develops the idea of contextual coaching,
which tries to bring the organization into the coaching situation
and make sure the focus is not entirely on the individual.
He said there are three C's to the contextual coaching method
that managers can follow to develop employees.
Employees may not be used to receiving coaching because it's rare
for a manager to provide it at a high level. "Because there
hasn't been a coaching culture in the management-employee relationship
in most companies, first the manager has to convince the individual
to buy in to the process, to want to really participate in a development
process that is beyond simply the performance coaching they may
be used to," he said.
Managers also may not be used to providing coaching, so they should
take the time to learn the basics before meeting with employees.
"They have to understand how to create rapport around the
focus of the work; they have to have incredible empathy skills
and the ability to be directive at times and to get the individual
to really create plans around their growth," Gorrell said.
This is the whole basis for this sort of coaching model. "[Managers]
have to work with that individual in terms of the larger organizational
context and the more global context beyond that of best practices
in their field," he said.
While Gorrell encourages coaching on the fly, he said effective
coaching over the long term requires upfront work and a plan developed
with insight into how an employee can grow within the organization.
Overall, Gorrell suggested managers go into the coaching process
with an organization development mindset. "What they need
to do," he said, "is look at some core elements of the
organization that have either impact on the individual or are
core concerns of that individual."
These elements may include, for example, the company's strategy
or culture or the teams an individual is a part of.
While coaching may take time out of the day for both the manager
and the individual, it is an investment that pays off in the long
"The investment is around getting an employee engaged in
both the stuff they have to do right now to be successful and
the things that are about their long-term career growth, and to
really see that tied with the company - that's a retention tool,"
"Engagement [is now] often about productivity. Coaching
is a great way to invest in getting people to be more productive
and really energizing a team."
[About the Author: Erin Green is a senior editor for Talent