Is coaching a cost or an investment? Using Simon Sinek’s language, my “WHY” is that I believe people are awesome, and everyone has the potential to do, or be more than they are today. Continuing with the SImon SInek theme, my “HOW” is that by developing inspiring leaders and cool cultures we can unleash that awesomeness.
So back to the original question – coaching cost or investment. Well, I’m pretty biased as you probably image after what I’ve just told you. But let’s go back a few steps. What do I mean by coaching? And how is it different from training? In my mind there is a huge difference between teaching someone and helping them to learn.
Coaching is about partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. (ICF). The emphasis is less on imparting information and more on the coach asking questions to help the coachee raise their own awareness, take responsibility, think through options and decide upon their own course of action. The coach is helping the individual to improve their own performance: in other words, helping them to learn.
Training is more about an expert teacher who imparts knowledge to their students/delegates. The individual leaves the training with new knowledge or information. But not necessarily with a belief, or ability to put that knowledge into action.
In the past coaching was seen as remedial: if you heard the word coaching you’d assume there was a problem. Now coaching has progressed from having a stigma attached to it to affording status: coaching has become an indication that your company considers you worth an investment.
Silencing that Journalist in Your Head
We all know what journalists do don’t we? Journalists report the news but can also be biased (sorry to all journalists out there) because they need to sell newspapers. We have journalists in our heads. They are that inner voice that constantly comments on what you do, how you do it, how successful you were….. But often that journalist’s voice holds us back, because it likes to be a critical voice that says “Not like that! Concentrate on your hands! Angle it differently!”.
If we distract that inner journalist, the body can take over, and often the body has a very clear idea of what to do when journalists are silenced. Basically coaching can help people to know how to silence their journalist and allow their instincts, or their subconscious, to take over.
How do coaches do this? They ask questions, challenge assumptions and help provide clarity, to help the individual solve their own problems. Remember, this is about silencing that journalist, and only that individual can do that. No amount of giving someone new information will silence that journalist. Only through challenging some of the individual’s assumptions, beliefs and narratives played out by their journalist, can a coach help a person do this.
For more about these lovely journalists, you might want to read Timothy Gallwey’s ‘inner game’.
How do you build the business case for coaching?
First you need others to understand why coaching is different to training, and why it is most appropriate for this situation. See the first part of the blog for that! Then treat coaching as you would any other people strategy or initiative…..
Coaching must form part of an overall Learning and Development strategy that is closely aligned to the achievement of the business strategy. What is the business issue or opportunity that you are trying to fix, or achieve? What are the skills or cultural imperatives and how does coaching fit into that?
Find yourself a Senior sponsor. Someone with influence who will champion the use of coaching amongst the senior level population. In my experience, I got approval for expenditure most often when I had a champion outside of the HR function!
Identify the specific outputs you need to achieve through that coaching intervention. Remembering that the real value of coaching (above simply training) is the challenging of deep seated assumptions or beliefs that could be holding the person (or people) back. Also in my experience (where I didn’t succeed) don’t suggest coaching if training is really needed.
Use case studies to strengthen your case. Examples where individuals, teams or organisational improvements have been seen because of coaching. The CIPD is a great place to start looking for case studies, or the ICF. Perhaps consider the flipside of coaching evaluating the under utilisation of skills and capability of people; or the cost of not removing the blockers to cultural change. This might prompt a very different conversation about the coaching intervention.
Blue Grape Talent offer comprehensive coaching solutions. From individual to team and organisational wide coaching programmes and solutions. If you’d like to find out more about this, contact us here!