How L&D Leaders Can Assess and Choose the Best Coaching Solutions
Leading organizations are looking more and more toward coaching to help them achieve talent mobility, developing and deploying talent in response to key business needs. At the same time, the U.S. workforce, in which one in three workers is a millennial (a number projected to grow), is being shaped by young workers seeking feedback-rich, networked learning tools that enable self-directed growth. Millennials expect access to services-sharing platforms, ratings-based apps, and networked marketplaces in both their personal and professional lives. “To speak millennial,” says Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy and public affairs, “you ought to be talking about the sharing economy because it is core and central to their economic future.” (“Is the Gig Economy Working?” The New Yorker, May 15, 2017)
To meet the talent mandate, an array of new, technology-driven learning tools has emerged. “Enterprise coaching solutions,” or “on-demand coaching” programs, can offer compelling features to HR teams looking for cost-effective, scalable approaches. But before you get caught up in the hype around “HR tech products,” it’s important to understand how well the features of available solutions align with the learning and talent mobility strategy of your organization and the needs and wants of your workforce.
Beyond Traditional Coaching: A Diversity of Needs and Approaches
Research has shown that coaching “has a significant effect on performance, skills, well-being, coping, attitudes and self-regulation.” At Springboards, we’ve found that over 90% of our coaching clients advance professionally in the organization in less than a year. But in today’s hypercompetitive talent market, coaching shouldn’t just meet employees’ needs – it must also address their wants. Effective coaching strengthens the employee value proposition and provides a coveted career benefit to high achievers seeking personally fulfilling growth opportunities.
Personalized coaching is also the most effective way to meet specialized needs and wants: for example, senior-level executives trying to establish a leadership presence, or multicultural employees adjusting to new communication norms. These individuals will likely benefit more from – and be more motivated by – high-touch, one-on-one coaching than from a self-directed approach, as noted in a recent comparative study of coaching methods:
“Individual coaching created a high degree of satisfaction and was superior in helping participants attaining their goals… The results for the self-coaching condition show that independently performing exercises without being supported by a coach is not sufficient for high goal attainment. Moreover…a coach’s transformational and transactional leadership behavior influenced participants’ perceived autonomy support and intrinsic motivation, resulting in beneficial coaching outcomes.” (“Comparing the Effectiveness of Individual Coaching, Self-Coaching, and Group Training: How Leadership Makes the Difference,” Frontiers in Psychology, May 6, 2016)
What's important is knowing when and how to utilize one approach versus another, and what the tradeoffs are. For example, your organization may opt for an enterprise-wide solution to save costs and broaden access, but if it’s not appropriate for all populations, it could actually prove counterproductive to those whose needs and wants would be better met by a more personalized approach.
What Are Your Organization, Workforce Strategy, and L&D Imperatives?
With so many options available, how do you determine the right solution – or differentiated blend of solutions – for your organization? Start with a careful needs assessment of your organization, articulate your workforce strategy, and identify your learning and development imperatives. Once that’s complete, you’ll be prepared to evaluate new tools and assess coaching providers armed with specific requirements and objectives.
· Organization. Factor in the size of your firm, to determine how relevant scalability might be, and the composition and major focus of your industry and workforce (for example, what percentage is involved in production versus sales, or research versus client relationships/customer service).
· Workforce strategy. Determine your talent objectives. Are they long term and focused on facilitating succession? Or shorter term, focused on meeting in-the-moment learning needs of a high-turnover population?
· Learning and development imperatives. Align these with your workforce strategy: a focus on developing leaders will likely mandate sustained coaching to enhance presence, communications, collaboration, and other high-touch leadership skills, while a focus on rapid acquisition of needed-to-perform-the-job skills may dictate a broad-based shared platform (see “On-demand Coaching at a Glance,” below).
And to attract and retain top global talent – an increasingly key aspect of talent mobility – your coaching game plan will need to address specialized learning needs including communications and cultural awareness development.
What Solution Will Meet the Most Needs? Consider Managed Coaching
A viable coaching game plan must both meet an organization’s multiple L&D imperatives and be flexible enough to address diverse employee wants and needs. For many firms, an approach called managed coaching services will fit the bill and help to establish a culture of talent mobility.
What distinguishes managed coaching? First, it takes a blended approach, incorporating different types of coaching at different investment levels and durations, and is geared toward various steps in an employee’s development path. Second, managed coaching and development, our focus at Springboards, is designed to be scalable, yet highly tailored; to align with organizational strategy, values and culture; to provide oversight of logistical and administrative processes; and to ensure measurable results. It provides and manages both the actual coaching and all the related program components, to ensure full, “managed” service to the client.
Third, managed coaching is flexible: it can be built out as an ongoing program or configured on a “just-in-time” basis, and can target an individual leader or provide workshop-based learning to groups. And, just as important, managed coaching offers the key features of both traditional and enterprise solutions that HR professionals value most. Like traditional “human to human” coaching, managed coaching providers are highly effective in vetting coaches who can address targeted needs and specialized populations, and like on-demand or enterprise coaching, managed coaching provides quality control and oversight, rigorous metrics, and administrative management, saving HR time and resources.
Are You Ready to Build and Sustain a Culture of Talent Mobility?
The HR/L&D community is at a crossroads in how we approach professional growth and development to ensure talent mobility. On one side, new technologies are enabling scalable, lower-cost, self-directed solutions with millennial-friendly features. On the other side, traditional one-on-one coaching, delivered personally through carefully matched coaches, remains the preferred option for senior-level executives and individuals with specialized communications and cultural needs. Managed coaching services, which share features of both of these approaches, is a comprehensive solution, providing one-stop shopping for organizations that need to meet diverse coaching needs and value program management and administrative oversight. But most important, managed coaching delivers the personalized, high-touch growth opportunity that the best employees seek and value, and consider of vital importance to their career choices.
For more information on the role of coaching in establishing a culture of talent mobility, contact me at Springboards Consulting.
“Talent Mobility: The Unsung Development Hero,” Chief Learning Officer, September 12, 2016
“Does coaching work? A meta-analysis on the effects of coaching on individual level outcomes in an organizational context,” Journal of Positive Psychology, Vol. 9, 2014
“On-demand” Coaching at a Glance
On-demand or enterprise coaching is typically a short-burst initiative delivered online via multimedia modules and/or apps. Program content may be drawn from mentors, both inside and outside of the organization, as well as from the individual coachee, and is often designed to address a specific issue or concern/problem. HR and other sponsors can access dashboards for progress reports and coach evaluations. Enterprise coaching tends to focus on scalability, of interest to large organizations, and may appeal to firms looking to quickly establish their brand as a “learning culture.”
A few solutions currently on the market:
· Chronus: “The leader in mentoring software, powering hundreds of successful mentoring programs to drive more strategic value for organizations world. Provides a “complete package that makes modern mentoring easy for you while creating an impact on your organizational goals.”
· Everwise: A “comprehensive software platform that allows organizations to tailor, run, and optimize learning experiences at enterprise scale.” Designed to connect participants to “experience managers,” peer groups, and learning content. Offers a variety of “learning experiences” to address specific challenges in career advancement and growth.
· BetterUp: A platform intended to “drive large-scale development leaps” via dedicated coaching and video sessions, with a focus on providing analytics to assess improvement in employee engagement and retention, productivity, and leadership.