Organizations that are “Coachable”?
In a recent post, I suggested that one approach to coaching is to use, what I call, Value-Focused Executive Coaching (VFEC) see post ( http://www.apexstp.com/#!ValueFocused-Executive-Coaching/elxvo/574080b90cf293e8d8d9104d). This is when a coach identifies a direct link between changing leadership behavior and a positive impact on an organization’s bottom-line. I also suggested that, in that situation, it is valuable for the coach to know about the “coachablility” of the coachee’s organization. But what is a “coachable” organization?
In my experience there are aspects to an organization’s strategy, culture, characteristics and conditions that can create positive energy for coaching to succeed and others that create negative energy. To show this idea I would like to consider four examples that help put this into context and help to maximize the probability of success for coaching. First, an organization has identified environmental pressures that mean they need to improve, they have recognized that standing still or living in the past will result in decline or extinction. Second, they recognize the need to change the way they operate and do things differently to the past. Third, they have a desire to learn from their failures and successes. Finally, the organization recognize that good leadership makes a difference to their strategy and bottom line.
Organization has identified environmental pressures that mean they need to improve
One of the key features of organizational context that can have a positive impact on whether a coaching or mentoring engagement will be successful is if the individual works for an organization that has recognized that it needs to improve. Effective coaching comes from the perspective that improved performance is possible and desirable. The alternative to this is if an organization is complacent with its success and is happy with its current performance. These organizations are characterized by a culture that think they are doing very well as they are. These organizations may have been very successful in the past but may be blind to the changing environment they find themselves facing. They are often inward looking and may not be customer focused. In this environment it is difficult to introduce new ideas and new ways of doing things.
When an organization has identified environmental pressures, they often have a clear “burning platform” for company and even the industry and a clear understanding that performance has to be improved. Therefore, from an organizational context perspective, this should be an environment where coaching and mentoring could be recognized as important tools to improve this performance. If there is not a clear burning platform and sense of urgency, there is a danger that an attitude may exist the organization has been successful and does not have to do things differently. Coaching in this environment is made more difficult because it may be a priority for the coachee and their stakeholders and they may not put aside the time necessary to improve their performance.
Organization has identified the need to change and do things differently to the past
Once an organization has recognized that they need to improve performance, the next key feature is a recognition that the organization needs to change and do things differently. This is the second feature I believe needs to in place to get the most value from coaching and mentoring. These organizations recognize that they have to change their organization (cultural, strategic, structurally, processes etc.), if they were going to solve this problem. Preserving the status quo and working as they had in the past is not an option, if they were to survive. There is a need to change and more importantly to change now. This sense of urgency to change is a critical feature of a company that is going to be open to new ways of working, including changing leadership behaviors. It is this kind of energy created for change that is needed to prioritize coaching activities. Without this energy, at all levels, there is a danger of the coaching and changing leadership behavior becomes a “nice to” activity rather than a “necessity”.
Organization has a desire to learn
The third feature, related to organizational context, which has an impact on coaching, is an organization’s desire to learn. On an individual basis, if a coachee is not interested in learning and is close-minded about behaving differently and doing things in a different way, the potential value of a coaching engagement is significant diminished. A potential coachee should be open to becoming more self-aware and be open to change. This openness to learn should be driven by desire to continue to improve their performance. This point applies equally to the organization that a coachee works for. The organization needs to be open to learn and change based on these learnings.
An organization’s desire and ability to learn is an important piece of the organizational culture. However, this organizational competency is important for individual and team coaching to be successful. A good example of this is the organization’s ability to reflect on what it is doing well and what it can do differently. Regular open and honest feedback on performance issues can help coachee define their development objectives and monitor their progress as they take actions. This feedback should not be a once a year forced feedback session linked to reward but an ongoing way of doing business.
Organization recognize that good leadership makes a difference to their strategy and bottom line
The final piece of organizational context, I would like to consider, is the role of leadership in an organization. More specifically, does the organization recognize that good leadership makes a difference to achieving a desired strategy and therefore impacts the bottom line for the business? We know from research and our experience that the effects of destructive behavior can be both costly in terms of outcomes (productivity, motivation, employee engagement, etc.), as well as organizational effectiveness. From an organizational context perspective if the positive and negative effects of leadership are not recognized by an organization it can be assumed that the value of changing leadership behavior through coaching may not be recognized. If an organization understands the impact of good and bad leadership it is assumed that there is more energy in the organization to maximize good leadership. It is then assumed that there will be more positive energy to engage in coaching and the impact of coaching recognized in the broader organization.
In summary, there are some aspects to organizational context that can create positive energy for VFEC coaching and some that create negative energy. I would suggest that a VFEC coach should have a clear understanding and appreciation of this context and the level of “coachability” of a coachee’s organization.
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