In a corporate setting, coaching focuses on your professional and personal development to improve motivation, performance and productivity in the organisation.
Here we are aiming for for a balance between fulfilling organisational goals and objectives, and your personal development and needs.
The focus of coaching is generally on your vision, strategy, strengths, goals and talents.
In addition, corporate coaching concentrates on:
- Leadership skills (effective interacting, dealing with change and obstacles, team dynamics, personal and professional development.
- Communication skills and relationships
- Time management
- Visioning and planning
- Assisting in life/work balance
- Managing stress
In line with leadership coaching, my passion is coaching highly talented professionals to become the best leaders they can be.
This means they will be competent decision-makers, who are able to handle change, pressure and overload in a successful manner, and be efficient leaders without burning out.
Creating an edge
My approach is not as much about intervention, as it is about creating an egde or advantage. Like Tiger Woods, or any committed professional sportsman/woman who would not be without their performance coach, progressive leaders use coaches to create an advantage for themselves.
Communication / leadership skills
One of the most important benefits of coaching is around communication skills. By communication I mean:
It is stopping, standing back, refraining from judgement and deeply listen to someone else without bringing your own agenda. It's asking open questions and not providing the answer, but encouraging the others to find their own solutions. It's acknowledging others for their strengths and wins, and motivating them further.
It all sounds so simple, but it's surprising how seldom people pause to listen. How often are people giving the answer when someone comes to them with a problem? We seem to be programmed to have all the answers, especially as managers. Yet, after some coaching, the executive will stop and realise he needs to listen and ask exploring questions.
The following examples are very empowering for the team members:
- 'Have you had a similar problem in the past?' If yes. 'What did you do then?'
- 'There are many ways to do this, what do you think?'
- 'You say you can't do this, but you mean you don't know how yet.'
I was coaching a manager who, before we started coaching, was quick to brush aside (for him) trivial things. We had been working on communication skills when he got a phone call from an upset junior manager who didn't get his requested 12% pay rise. The junior manager even said, I'll go and find another job.
The manager remembered to stop and realised he needed to listen. Instead of saying, deal with it, I don't have time for this, he gave his attention. And, because he listened so well, he picked up on the junior manager's biggest issue: he was afraid that people didn't take him seriously.
The manager acknowledged him, said he understood that he was upset and told him that he was very much appreciated and valued for the work he was doing. They talked a little more and after 5 minutes, both the manager and junior manager came off the phone smiling. The whole conversation didn't last for more than 10 minutes. It was fast, satisfying communication where the manager certainly retained the employee.
Often when we have good ideas and big ambitious goals, feelings of failure might block the executive. Another obstruction can be that the person delays the proces because there is uncertainty around how to introduce or act on the idea.
With a coach, the executive can brainstorm about seemingly outrageous ideas and ambitious goals, get feed-back and feel confident and motivated to act on them.
When we are under stress, it can debilitate us, and it often makes us feel smaller than we really are. Stressful situations like, for example: a talk to upper management, presenting a new project, having to dismiss a team member.
A coach provides the executive with a constant reminder about his strengths and potential; and points out when he is acting out of character. I also give practical tips or techniques to reduce stress.
As a coach I will check in about the professional's goals, vision and his next steps. Often people are unclear about their bigger vision because they are dealing more with details or immediate goals, and how to reach them. With a coach the professional can clarify long term visions for themselves, their team, or department. I often challenge the executive to come up with an exciting vision. This realigns the team, motivates them and takes away confusion as they know where they are going two, three or five years from now.
When we need to implement a new project or idea, it is human nature to see difficulties and obstacles in the way, and to slow down or even stop. As a coach I will look at the managers perception, if (s)he is looking at the glass half full or half empty. I will motivate him/her instead, to see the possibilities and options in every situation, to keep the bigger picture in mind and look at the end result.
We all have different values that come with our individual personalities. Why is this important to realise in the workplace? Because it can prevent conflict.
I was coaching a director who was very perfectionist orientated. Together with 12 team members, she was working on a project that she gave her absolute best. She constantly made improvements on different parts and delivered perfect work. What was bothering her was that she couldn't understand that others wanted to get to the end result as fast as they could to achieve their goal. In her opinion they didn't look at every detail. In turn some of the team members were very impatient with her as they were more achiever orientated and were worried about the dealine.
By looking at our values and values of our team members we can understand each other better. As a coach I will point this out, and also explore where the person can have outlets for their needs. When they are aware, the professional will be motivated because (s)he knows (s)he operates according to his/her values.
I use a tool for this called Print®, a methodology that catalogues personality traits, and explores the motivation behind his behaviour, as well as how the person behaves in his best self and when he acts out of character (or in shadow).
I coached a person who had shared with me that she had problems with a colleague. They were suppose to work together, but she would, for example, leave e-mails unanswered and avoid her. This dragged on for weeks and months. Obviously, these type of situations are costing businesses a lot money.
It only took one coaching session to analyse the situation and see what was happening. She had only looked at it from her own perception and didn't take the other person into consideration at all. In fact, we realised that her colleague was quite insecure and that the conflict was based on a misunderstanding. Once she knew this, it was easy for her to deal with it. This way, coaching can help the executive deal much quicker with unresolved issues.
- Professional and personal development
- Change management, especially dealing with relocation stress
- Dealing with team dynamics
- Problem solving
- Goal setting, visioning and planning
- Becoming aware of values / personality traits / negative perceptions
- Working on limiting beliefs, and aligning them with organisational goals
- Time management
- Work/life balance
Advantages for the organisation
A big advantage that coaching offers an organisation is that a coaching culture is created, which goes hand in hand with a learning organisation. When enough executives in the organisation model coaching skills with their team, again by:
it will support them to be great leaders. This in turn teaches team members how to improve their communication skills because they have a great example. It works well when it comes from top down in the organisation.
- deep listening
- asking open questions
- acknowledging others, etc.,
Another advantage is that coaching gives organisations more for their training dollar. The training is optimally utilised when the coach reminds the client about what they took away from the training. And the coach will motivate them to implement the new ideas and keeps reinforcing it. This way the training doesn't get shelved on top of the big pile of papers on the desk.
It works well together, as training is often not at point of need, and coaching always is at point of need, as it is customised and always about the executive's agenda and his development.
Growing leaders faster
A last, very important benefit of coaching is that coaching can help highly talented professionals to grow much faster.
This is important as so many leaders are approaching retirement and are leaving the workplace. Coaching can help fill this gap: to prepare talent to become the future leaders.
- In your department or division, can you identify any highly talented professionals who are ready to step up?
- If yes, how are you currently preparing them to be the best leaders they need to be?
Judith Pentz ☼ Life and Corporate Coaching
"Creating an inspiring life'"
'We have found Judith Pentz to be
a refreshing professional, bringing a true wealth of coaching experience, thoughtfully tailored to our needs.
Her recommended Print® technique and her valuable input on the results has been very useful internally and, based on our experience, we will certainly use the technique, coupled with her expertise, for new hires in the future.'
Dr Diana Barkley, President, PHOCUS Group Ltd.