As we’ve seen in the last few posts, the fundamental role of the coach is to minimise interference so that more potential can be turned into performance.
Even today work seems to be organised in such a way as to make it difficult for people to reach their potential, but there is increasing pressure to get the people side of business right. Already some big corporations are including reports on their ‘human capital’ in their annual report and accounts. It can surely not be long until shareholders begin to hold boards to account and demand proof that their Human Resource management is as strong as their Financial or Commercial Management.
The potential is all there to begin with. We need to take the view that the staff in any organisation are a resourceful group of people with the ability to help the business achieve its aims. Such a strong philosophical standpoint will reap dividends as the phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy takes hold. In the short-term there may people who take advantage, who are lazy, disloyal and intent on high jacking progress, but we cannot structure the whole organisation to try to prevent this. As a high-performance culture takes shape such people become increasingly marginalised and can no longer muster support for their subversive behaviour. We need to give every opportunity for people to perform, but respect people’s choice to reject these opportunities. In these cases we must provide a dignified means of exit so that people may move on with their self-belief intact.
Potential is suppressed by a host of external and internal sources of interference. Key amongst the external factors is the management style of the organisation. People will deduce the prevailing management style based on a number of indicators but probably the most compelling is the behaviour of the most senior team. People these days demand that the leadership team ‘walk the talk’. Post Enron and other scandals there is a growing feeling that business ethics must once again come to the fore. Organisations are responding by articulating statements of Corporate and Social Responsibility but these initiatives must be seen as genuine by employees or they’ll be dismissed as just another management fad.
A greater challenge is to identify sources of internal interference. There are few people working in ‘the zone’, most are dogged by low confidence, fear of failure and subsequent reprisal, doubts about their future and a fundamental limiting belief that they are somehow not good enough.
Coaching is the means by which leaders and managers can deal with these and other challenges. Coaching is person centred which means it is an approach that sees the individual as hard-wired with all they need to achieve results. Coaches do not rescue or save people rather they facilitate learning and liberate talent.
Coaching at work needs also to be performance focused. It’s about getting people to be bigger and better at what they do. It’s difficult to see that such a move could produce anything other than a positive result.
Of course the challenges of working life mean that it is not enough to produce high performance on an occasional basis. We need to keep it there….