Coaching for performance

The established business environment is changing.

Where once companies were run with a strict hierarchical structure the modern office has become a much flatter place. This change in perspective has led to a redefinition of the traditional managerial role, asking them to not only oversee the day-to-day running of a team but also to lead them. In this environment the traditional methods of management training can’t provide all the solutions needed to develop a talented individual into a skilled manager and effective leader. They can be a valuable resource when trying to give someone the skills needed to perform management tasks like monitoring performance or organising a team, but they often fall short of helping that person develop into a real leader. This is where coaching can help.

“The real benefits are that it’s person-centred, taking a very positive approach to the individual and their potential, working on the assumption they can get to their own answers and achieve self-development,” says Emily Man, an experienced executive coach who has delivered successful programmes for clients such as insurance giant Aviva. “It really puts authenticity under the spotlight which has been proven to be a key way to develop leadership skills and the way those trickle down to the benefit of the rest of the organisation.”

Coaching differs from a traditional approach to training in that it operates more as conversation between the coach and the person being coached, allowing the latter to come up with their own solutions to achieve their goal. Unlike a normal training environment, which operates in a very defined student-teacher way, a coaching relationship is based on more of an equal footing where one party acts as a facilitator for the other, helping them reach their own conclusions. Specifically, coaching can be described as a collaborative environment, akin to the relationship one might find with a personal trainer in a gym. While they can be there with advice and support for the person being coached they cannot do the work for them, they themselves must be the one to make any strides forward. Because of this, the most important factor in the relationship is not necessarily the skills or abilities of either party but the chemistry between them.

A coach will simply create a supportive space where they can bring their insight and analysis to help challenge the preconceptions of their client. It’s important to recognise coaching isn’t only for industry leaders, though. It’s about personal development and affecting a change which not only helps individuals work more effectively towards their own goals but also shows them how to align those goals with those of their organisation. This means that any manager, at any level, can utilise coaching to achieve business success.

Emily says: “It tends to be most useful for people who are in challenging leadership positions, whether they’re in charge of one person or thousands, but anyone can be coached if they are clear about their goals. If they have no clear goals and are not open to change it can’t work. “It’s all about how the person engages with the coach to achieve results. Where it seems to work very well is when those being coached become more in touch with who they are and what the things like their morals and assumptions of the people working around them are. When those are authentic, that’s when you see a great leader. It’s all about becoming more aware of ourselves and bringing down the barriers to achieving that.”

Emily Man is an executive coach with Emily Man Coaching.