Many organisations have now started to implement coaching programmes, whether that’s using internal or external resources. The sporting arena has thought of coaches as essential for many years (and our 2012 Olympic success brought that to the fore) but until recently the business arena has been slower to understand and appreciate the benefits.
It’s now more frequently recognised as a way of enhancing the development of not just the executives who are “difficult”, but to help fast-track the top performers. Coaching helps improve management and leadership skills, boost motivation and performance, increase productivity and efficiencies, see problems from different angles and adapt to an ever changing workplace.
Aligned with leadership and talent programmes, coaches will look at strengths and development areas, ask the questions that many managers resist or avoid, spend time focussing on the key issues and provide a supportive environment where the employees are held to account for their results.
But as busy leaders in today’s environments, how can you divide your time most appropriately and provide the coaching that will make a real difference to your team?
Usually, when asked whether you should spend more time on your top performers (10%), middle performers (80%) or poor performers (10%), managers will decide it should be with those in the poor category. Many believe that poor performers reflect badly on them as managers or, if the contract is ended they could be accused of not giving enough feedback or guidance. They may determine that spending the majority of their time getting the poor performer to the next level must be good for the organisation.
The middle performers are doing the job that’s required of them so, although valuable, may be considered as low maintenance for the busy manager. And the top performers don’t need coaching as they are doing everything well and have the drive and determination to succeed.
However, all three types of performers need your coaching time, and maybe not in the proportion that most think (i.e. not all on the poor performers).
Middle performers could fall behind and end up in the poor category, but with some attention they could become one of your top performers. Reduce the pressure on your time by focussing on regular but dedicated performance reviews and encouraging training and development through all your available resources (eg training department, HR).
It’s the top performers who need more of your time, maybe even the bulk of your time. There is always more potential to be developed from your top performers and although they often don’t ask for your time, that doesn’t mean they don’t want it or expect recognition and support. They are also the team members you want to retain, but are likely to be those looking for more from their role (be that in the form of challenge or promotion).
By focusing on your top performers more, you not only encourage better overall results, but you may also be developing your future leaders who can then help with mentoring the rest of the team.
If you’re not distributing your coaching time effectively and fairly, resentment can set it. Everyone needs your coaching in some way, but the balance of your time may need further consideration in order to get optimum value.
If you are interested in finding out how executive coaching can assist you or your team, then please feel free to contact us for an initial discussion.