The Power of Effective Coaching


Having good managers just isn’t good enough

As I have grown and developed as a manager of people, I have learnt that effective coaching and structured learning can have a real positive impact on the people I work with. Even though my role is multifaceted, I ultimately see myself as a coach. You can have “all singing, all dancing” systems and groundbreaking products and services. Yet, if your workforce is not engaged with you or your objectives or are not driven to develop themselves, you are likely to struggle to achieve the results you and your business desire.

Many people say they train and coach their staff and provide for their development needs, and yet they still wonder why results do not come. You may also be a manager that doesn’t necessarily feel like you are a coach at all. If you manage people, you do have the opportunity to improve results by simply understanding and working with the individuals in your team better.

However, the reality is it isn’t just about the manager or coach; there are many other factors to take into consideration.

Let’s just take a few variables of a typical coaching situation:

  1. a manager/coach
  2. an employee/team member
  3. the working environment
  4. the common goal or objective

A (probably over) simplified equation of how this should work is:

(where the maximum value of C is 1)

For the pure mathematicians out there, I am aware that the above equation doesn’t quite work but do indulge me, it is more for illustration purposes rather than groundbreaking calculus!

The presuppositions of the above equation and with most typical coaching situations are:

  • it assumes that the manager or coach has the capability and skill set to identify development areas in a constructive and empathetic way in line with the business objectives
  • it assumes that once these development areas are identified, they are followed up effectively
  • it assumes that the employee actually has an interest to develop
  • it assumes that the working environment is conducive of growth and development
  • it assumes that the coach and employee have a common goal

Very often these variables are not met in the simplest way.

  1. Managers will have other agendas and objectives that might not be congruent with that of the employee.
  2. The employee and/or the manager may well be disengaged from the goal or environment and, as such, development may be difficult.
  3. The employee may have their own goals and aspiration and be biding their time at your expense.
  4. There is no consistent follow-through on identified actions.
  5. Both are too busy to care.

It is, therefore, important to ensure that you create the right conditions within your business where each element is in harmony to drive the best results.

How do you do that?

You must hire the right people for you and your business in terms of managers/coaches and employees. To do this, you really need to understand what your company’s values and goals are, and ensure that any new employee is congruent with these. If you achieve this, you will enable employees to be themselves, to develop without fear (assuming you want them to), and they will respond in kind. If you have hired a person that just didn’t fit in, that wasn’t their fault, it was yours.

You then need to be consistent in how you communicate these values in order to not give out mixed messages. Being inconsistent will only disengage your staff from your goal and impact growth of both the individual and the company.

You need to create an environment that matches these values and the business goals. It needs to be an environment that represents the business vision consistently so that every employee is under no illusion of what the business is about and what is expected of them. It needs to reward personal and professional achievement and drive and encourage the business values, whatever they might be.

Fundamentally, these factors come down to one key thing, and that is clear direction “from the top”. I am not a fan of hierarchal structures for hierarchy’s sake. Yet, the reality is there will be a senior management team somewhere in the mix setting the agenda. This group of individuals need to be completely aligned in their thinking in order to maintain a level of consistency in how the business recruits and develops people, and ultimately in how the people communicate their objectives and goals to the business and other stakeholders.

So, the difference between good results and great results? Well, the equation probably needs to look something like the following where n=congruency of values throughout the business. Having this will maximise your chances of realising the biggest potential in your business, and that is your people.

Ian White

Ian White was a Director of Strategy at Alfa Energy Group, having been with the business since 2010. He oversees the sales and marketing functions for the group, coordinating activities between Alfa Energy's four international offices. Prior to that, he worked for the UK’s largest commercial gas supplier for seven years, managing public and strategic energy consumers initially, then moving on to manage the UK Broker Channel.