“He isn’t performing”
“He just can’t cope”
“She has poor relationships with her team”
“He needs to understand that this is his last chance to improve”
“She won’t get on board”
These are just some of the common drivers that lead organisations to seek the support of executive coaches. Indeed, executive coaches can and do work with individuals on these types of issues - surely that is helpful?
Let’s look more closely at what is happening here. Firstly, there is an assumption that something or someone is broken and needs to be fixed, rather like calling in a plumber to fix a leaky tap! Secondly, there’s a disheartening sense of this being a ‘last chance saloon’ scenario, and thirdly, under the guise of ‘helping’, the organisation is unfortunately sending out a clear message – “if you are not good enough, you get a coach” (rather than the reverse being the more positive case).
Fast forward to the coachee arriving in their first coaching session, perhaps under duress, most certainly defensive, suspicious – ashamed even. It’s hard not to question how conducive this would be towards establishing an effective coaching relationship. However, we shouldn’t worry too much. A well matched, strong executive coach will be skilled in dealing with all of these factors and will establish rapport and trust quickly in order to help the individual harness their inner potential. That is helpful, phew!
Not so fast. Take some time to consider the commercial reality of employing executive coaches to solely deal with people considered to have plateaued or faltered. What return on investment can be expected? Of course, coaching may help to stabilise performance or lead to the expedition of a mutually welcomed exit strategy, but surely, offsetting risk is less favourable than generating real return on investment?
It is time to expose the myth… Executive coaching is not an emergency service.
Iceland chose to offer their high performing business leaders and managers executive coaching. They partnered with Notion’s high calibre executive coaches to work with them, not to fix them, but to unleash their given talent and to support their next level of growth to meet both their personal and organisational objectives. By setting clear, tangible and measurable goals from the outset, the executive coach works with the leader or manager to help them to deliver exceptional performance back into their organisations. And guess what, the investment is returned multiple times.
Andy Webb, Regional Manager of Iceland is testament to this, “I was an Area Manager when I started working with Notion Business Coaching. I wanted to step up to the next level of Regional Manager – that is a big step in this business. The idea was that the coaching would help equip me with whatever behaviours would help me to do that.” The initial intent for Andy was to support a significant internal promotion – no poor performance here, just talent, ambition and an openness to learn.
Andy explains that, “within a couple of months I was promoted and the coaching agenda changed quickly – I wanted to focus on what would get me up and running from the first day.” Having an executive coach during this important transition was extremely useful for Andy; a result of excellent foresight from his senior team. “We looked at how I could engage people with my way of working and how I could outline a strategy with my Area Managers; how I could get the guys bought in to it, and to me.” “My coach encouraged me to understand where the guys wanted to get to so that I could show them how the strategy linked in to their aspirations – that was a really useful piece of work.”
Through working with his coach, Andy was able to gain clarity about how he would work with his new team from the outset, which in turn gave his team clarity and resulted in a greater understanding about accountability. According to Andy, this improved accountability had consequences, “some people left the business, but this enabled me to recruit and train more highly capable Area Managers.
As a result of the way we are working now and by upping the capability of those teams, Store and Area performance has significantly improved and in particular my region’s sales performance against the Company budget has improved massively.” Andy talks very highly of his relationship with his Notion coach, “I needed a confidential platform onto which I could spill everything that was in my mind and my coach absolutely allowed me to do that and tried to understand where I was coming from. Everything I have done this year was in my head already. However, coaching has given me a thought process to unlock it, an environment to think about it, and to make that a priority.”
Rather than addressing poor performance, Iceland has demonstrated that an organisation will undoubtedly benefit from examining their leadership team, their high potential population, and their executive hires to determine strategic alliances with executive coaches, that will support the organisation through business challenges, change and potential adversity.
Don’t wait for an emergency. Call Notion now or visit our website http://www.BusinessCoaching.co.uk.
Notion Business Coaching is the UK’s leading coaching organisation and experts in all things coaching. Our expert executive coaches combine high calibre coaching and corporate experience with a hard hitting commercial approach to help both the individual and the organisation succeed.
Our thanks to Iceland for their contribution to this article.