With changes in the economy, many companies are moving away from 'downsizing and delayering' and looking instead at multiskilling their executives and managers. The aim, quite simply, is that they should become better executives and managers. But just how do you give a senior executive a new set of skills geared to their needs?
At Psychonomics, our work begins by recognizing that executive and managerial coaching has as its purpose a clear organizational aspect. A facilitatory relationship is then formed between the client, who has managerial authority and responsibility in an organization, and us. We use a wide variety of behavioural techniques and methods to help the client achieve a mutually identified set of goals to improve his or her own performance, and consequently to improve the effectiveness of the client's organization within a formally defined coaching agreement.
Areas where coaching is often needed include: strategy development skills, business planning, the conduct of board meetings, scenario planning, stress management, negotiating skills, presentation skills, people skills, and creativity development, to name a few.
New nuts and bolts skills acquired in this manner can find many applications, covering alterations in the way executives and managers organize, communicate, and manage their workforce. Often, though, the new set of skills needs to be learnt from the perspective of a change in management or leadership style - representing a deeper level skill change where, for example, a competitive leadership style needs to be reoriented to one based on collaboration and teamwork. Estimates, in fact, suggest that as many as sixty-percent of managers have an inapropriate leadership style, and, moreover, assume managerial positions without any training in how to tailor their style in order to lead their particular workforce effectively. Clearly, this is an issue that must be addressed if an organization is to succeed at all.
Senior individuals may not be wholly to blame if they are unable to do aspects of their jobs well, however. After all, from whom do you learn when you, yourself, are at the top? Consider: You've soared in your career, and suddenly you are a director. With a directorship and a seat on the board of directors, everything is now different. But what director training did you get? And if you manage to get through this stage as a successful director and are appointed chairman, you will need different skills. Where do you turn?
Intervention at any senior level is really all about getting the manager or executive to think for themselves and see the repercussions of their actions. The coaching that Psychonomics provides is therefore focused on facilitating personal growth, but, very specifically, within the context of enhancing corporate or organizational effectiveness. Hence, coaching may be directed at developing an executive's or manager's professional skills, improving their performance, altering their leadership style, developing their competencies for future career or leadership opportunities, or coaching for a business agenda, which the coachee may nominate.
However, whatever the specific coaching need that we are asked to help with, all executive and managerial coaching usually occurs within one of the following three categories. These are: performance coaching, skills coaching and personal coaching:
Performance coaching: This type of coaching centers on performance enhancement rather than the rectification of a performance issue - the client is to be helped to perform better or produce more. Even when an executive or manager receives coaching support in order to balance work and home life, it will be with the aim of increasing their effectiveness and productivity at work and not for more altruistic reasons. Certainly, when an organization is paying premium rates for development services, increased performance is usually the key payback required.
Skills coaching: One-to-one skills coaching allows a flexible, adaptive approach to skills development where the core skills an executive or manager needs to perform in their role are focused on. Our skills coaches combine a holistic approach to personal development - taking into account knowledge, experience, and maturity of the client - with achieving a number of objectives for the company. Indeed, this is the main aim. To accomplish this, Psychonomics' skills coaches are themselves highly experienced in performing the organizational skills they wish to promote in clients.
Skills coaching on a one-to-one basis is not the same as the 'sitting next to Nelly' approach to 'on the job training'. It is more sophisticated than that and is based initially on an assessment of need in relation to the job-role. The coaching is then delivered in a structured but flexible manner, and generates measurable learning and performance outcomes.
Personal coaching: This type of coaching is about providing a highly supportive and motivating environment to explore what the client wants in their life and career and how they might achieve their aspirations. The coaches' role is to engender commitment, to act as a sounding-board for client's thoughts and experiences, and to assist the client towards maintainance or development of the motivation and commitment needed to achieve their goals. Whereas the two other types of coaching above are often initiated by the organization, personal coaching (or personal development coaching as it's also known) may be initiated by the executives themselves.
Coaching is not the answer to all organizational problems, of course, but it is one way we can help a manager or executive develop the needed skills - the ability to lead, motivate, organize, manage, or communicate. Indeed, it is our experience that managers can be helped to learn, and they are not wholly at the mercy of accidents of birth or situations.