Those who can, teach. Those who can coach…?

With the economic downturn organisations have been looking for means to maximise their return from their resources, including staff.

Some really do believe the children are our future – well not quite, though it is really heartening to see how much McDonalds were last year throwing their weight behind (no pun intended) apprenticeship schemes aimed at getting young people on a career path.

However, not all organisations have the financial resources to support such schemes and are looking for more cost effective means of a return from their employees. Recent studies from the CIPD have shown that there has been an upsurge in coaching activities, with 82% of those organisations surveyed taking up more coaching opportunities from only 69% in 2009.

Virginia Matthews wrote an interesting piece in XPert HR (afraid you will need to be able to log in to view the article in its entirety) about how the business world might use some of the examples from the sports world and apply them to the world of work.

What is encouraging for someone in HR who is an unashamed sports nut is the suggested parallels between the two disciplines – setting long terms goals, intermediate mile stones to be met, examining problems as they occur and coming up with solutions and so on. What is shared by both is how the need for the coaching must come from the person concerned. Individuals must be seeking out the means for improvement in their performance.

Interestingly, some of the examples sighted by Matthews have internal coaches – so the individual uses someone else employed by the organisation to help guide them through means of improving performance (though it is not clear whether they are their line manager in most instances). Does this make improving team, departmental and, therefore, organisational performance more difficult if there is the possibility of previous history or agendas between both? Do external third parties have a more objective, possibly more effective (but undoubtedly more expensive) approach as coaches?

Personally I would worry that the ‘coach’ would have been forced on to the individual in such circumstances – rather defeating the spirit of the exercise. Has that been your experience, or has it always been learner led? Also does anyone have any examples of schemes/suppliers they would recommend?

In the meantime, might be useful to keep in mind some thoughts from Jan Brause’s at HR Zone on the subject and the pitfalls of its perceptions…

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