Coaching as a management tool is on the rise, with a reported 48% of global companies now adopting a coaching programme to compliment their existing training and HR initiatives. An incredible 76% of Fortune 500 companies operate mentoring and coaching programmes and that is estimated to rise to 88% in the next 12 months.
So, why is all the big money on coaching? Coaching is all about one-to-one personal attention. If you are lucky enough to remember a point in your life when someone took the time to recognise your individual potential and help you to develop it, then you will already appreciate how powerful it can be. The kind of positive stroking that good coaching brings to the workplace makes people feel valued and creates a culture of respect, growth and development. Importantly, it also allows managers to target not so great performance and work closely with the staff member to improve it in a targeted, supportive way.
What is the difference between training and coaching?
The difference is subtle but crucial:
A trainer is someone who fills in gaps in knowledge, introduces new concepts, directs and instructs. Training is about helping someone achieve a level of competence.
A coach is someone who takes that competent person, motivates and drives them forward to take competence to excellence, and importantly, keep it there. On an interpersonal level coaching is about reinforcing knowledge, sharing experiences and tips on how to be successful, supporting and instilling confidence.
At some point a trainer showed Usain Bolt how to use the starting blocks and how to adjust his technique to make his running more efficient, but somewhere along the way a coach (Glen Mills) got into that man’s head and made him believe that he could be the fastest man on earth. On days when he was exhausted, disillusioned, or even bored, it was the coach who made him put those spikes on and learn to fly.
Coaching is an invaluable way of developing a safety mindset
Many managers are excellent trainers, especially if they have come up through the ranks within their industry. They may be passionate about safety and know all there is to know about their industry and working safely within it, and be good at transferring that knowledge. But to be a good coach they also have to be able to empathize with staff who might not initially share that passion, find ways to empower their staff to make the right decisions for themselves and motivate them to work safely and stay on track, even when unsafe short cuts beckon.
In a 2017 survey, HR.com discovered that managers who were considered good coaches had 80% more engaged and productive teams. Engaged and productive teams are safe teams.
What skills make a good coach?
Just as everyone has a unique set of personal traits, strengths and weaknesses, coaching styles will vary from manager to manager. However, here are Six key skills for good coaching:
1. Lead by example. Always.
2. Be observant and engaging with staff in a positive, proactive way. A good coach will pick up on performance issues and guide the employee back to where they need to be and will value it as an opportunity to connect with staff on a personal level.
3. Training is often about talking, coaching is often about listening
4. Ask.Know how to guide conversations, especially those conversations that are difficult to approach, using open questions that encourage staff to come up with ideas. “How do you think we could improve that process…?”
5. Evaluate and give feedback. Set goals and review them regularly, it keeps everyone focussed and moving forward.
6. Encourage and inspire. By highlighting people’s strengths and giving them credit for all those good behaviours around safety, you will inspire them to fix the undesirable behaviours too.
Coaching is all about positive change, refreshing someone’s perspective and actually changing lives – not just working lives but everyday life too. What a privilege to be able to have such an incredible impact on your colleagues.
Whilst some elements of coaching are entirely instinctive, coaches also need coaching. Our one day safety workshop “Positive Safety Coaching – Develop effective coaching techniques” aims to develop the skills of leaders to apply effective coaching techniques.
We explore the opportunities you have to facilitate safety – the words you use (encouraging safe precautions, talking positively about safety), the behaviours you model (leading by example, making safety the way they do their work) and visible proactive action (removing or eliminating barriers to safe work).