If only I could arrive with my clients in such a style! Thinking back to when I landed in a field in Headcorn brave enough to jump solo with a static line, it probably wouldn’t be my most elegant entrance. 

All jokes aside, I have metaphorically parachuted into many organisations this year.  I love supporting leaders and their organisations to accelerate their performance using coaching because the reality is that leaders themselves do not always have the time or the skill to invest in it the way an external coach can. If you have experienced good coaching you will know that it can be a journey of highs and lows, and perfectly summarised by Nanny McPhee “when you need me but do not want me, I will stay; when you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go”. 

The ripple effect of the pandemic has left managers and leaders stretched and doing less with more. Learning and development is often the first casualty of a busy operation and so personal growth slides down the priority list. It’s a false economy in many cases because by boosting skills and competencies, many individuals start to thrive not just survive and this has a halo effect on those around them. 121 coaching can provide the perfect balance in terms of time vs benefit ratio with sessions lasting only 1-2 hours every 3-4 weeks and the opportunity to apply the result of the insights and awareness almost immediately. 

It’s not just competency development that is hanging in the balance. Mental health is also taking a hit with stress, anxiety and overwhelm hitting an all-time high. High potential and star talent are not immune and, ironically can be the people that need the most help but often disguise it well. High performers can be prone to imposter syndrome and setting impossible standards for themselves. They often tend to keep going no matter what, and take up the slack for less talented or capable individuals, and this can pose a risk to the business. 

On the surface, high performers can appear utterly dependable but if something happens that takes them out of the business,  you are left with a huge hole in team performance. Protecting them from burnout is also critical to protecting your talent pipeline. 

With budgets tight, 121 coaching isn’t an affordable option for everyone but investing in your best can pay for itself many times over. Here are 3 reasons why you should consider bringing in an external coach:

1. Stabilise your talent 

The war for talent is real and sub-optimal conditions and unmanageable workloads can trigger employees to question their position much sooner than they ordinarily would. Throwing money at it via salary increases is not the answer and will hit an unsustainable threshold for your business. 

An exceptional manager as coach will be able to help their coachee increase their performance, uncover any blind spots, shift their mindset and lead better. When you bring in an external coach, they can go deeper and attend to the psychological aspects of their hopes, dreams, and anxieties. They will be able to uncover an individual’s values much quicker and slicker than a line manager would be able to. Often, these more profound individual aspects and thinking patterns need to be addressed over promises of promotions and salary increases. Resilience is being tested all around so by investing in a coach that can support them at a deeper level will help stabilise your high potential and star talent. 

2. Get back to the strategy 

You fully buy into the concept of coaching; you know that it can profoundly impact an individual and you might even be quite good at it. Even in a moderately time-poor environment, I know that managers gravitate towards strategy and the operational agenda. 

The harsh truth is that right now, there is a lot of emotion bubbling under the surface and even if you have line managers prepared to get into the necessary messy conversations, they are rarely skilled enough to manage it effectively enough to fuel growth and build resilience. Recently I witnessed a senior leader share that when she hits the emotional stuff with a team member, she offers to buy a cake. It may have been a glib comment to get a laugh, but in my experience there is a grain of truth in this for many leaders. 

A coach is NOT a therapist, but an executive coach will be able to handle the psychological dimensions in a way that develops awareness, powers their learning and development, and holds a safe space to let off any necessary steam without judgement.

3. Keep it clean 

Building on the previous point, line manager as a coach (no matter how skilled they are) is controversial. I am pro building coaching skills in anyone that manages people but some situations will always benefit from bringing someone from outside the business. 

The internal role is often questioned because it is nay on impossible to keep it clean. You will always have a vested interest in the outcome when you coach someone you also manage. Unless you are extremely invested in your own coaching practice (for example, have regular supervision) you are likely to veer towards leading questions without realising. Whilst the intention is positive, it can feel icky to the employee and is often experienced as manipulative or fake. When investing in your best, the last thing you want to do is compromise psychological safety and dilute your well-intended coaching approach. 

When I work with my clients, we work collaboratively from the outset to align the business objectives with those of the individual. This means that everyone’s needs are met, it is transparent and we can then get on with the job in hand where the employee knows and feels that their best interests at the heart of the work we do.

My parachute is neatly packed away now for 2022, and all safety checks done. If you have a member of your team that is ready to jump into their most tremendous potential, then I will be opening my diary (as well as my parachute!) again in mid-January. If you would like to chat about my signature programme and how it can help the talent in your organisation, get in touch hello@jocowlin.com

Jo x

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