Why Coaching in Business Doesn’t Matter


I recently read a study concluding that business results are 21 percent higher among organizations whose senior leaders ‘very frequently’ make an effort to coach others.  The study, conducted by Berzin and Associates, also found that organizations that effectively prepare managers to coach are 130 percent more likely to realize stronger business results versus. those that don’t.   If better results are linked to effective and frequent coaching within an organization, and there are volumes of research that support this, even without this latest study, why is it that many businesses don’t  make better coaching a priority?  Well, I have a few theories.

Coaching doesn’t get immediate results.

Coaching takes time to produce results.  It likely won’t have an effect on the bottom line this month or maybe even this quarter.  It takes time for people to get better at it, to use their new skills to help others improve their performance and for that improved performance to drive results.  People are looking for more immediate improvements in their business and aren’t willing to wait six to 12 months for those results to materialize.  Wait…what about new product development, emerging markets or business acquisitions?  Those things often take even longer to produce results but companies frequently invest in them and focus on them.   Maybe this isn’t a reason for lack of focus on coaching at all.

 Coaching doesn’t feel tangible.

There is likely not a chart, graph or report that most businesses can use to measure their level of coaching effectiveness.  It feels squishy and vague, so people often shy away from trying to improve it.  The fear that we can’t put the ROI on a PowerPoint slide makes people want to focus on other things they can get credit for accomplishing or point to during a shareholder meeting.  Business leaders are overly conditioned to focus on things they can represent with a firm number.  The problem is that these things are mostly outputs.  They are history, and they can only be measured by looking backwards.  Only through changing our inputs can we change our outputs.  And inputs such as innovation, creativity, coaching, leadership, communication, engagement, and commitment are the very things that cause measurable outputs like profit and growth to happen.  We can’t measure everything that’s valuable and sometimes we have to focus on making it better, even if we can’t quantify it as tightly as we would like.

Good coaching is subjective

Most organizations would agree that they want their managers to be good coaches, but they often don’t do a good job of defining what that looks like.  It’s critical to have an opinion, as a business, on how you want your managers to coach and what you expect of people who are going to supervise others in your organization.  Telling them to be good, without defining what “good” looks like won’t help.  That’s like putting a sports team on the field and saying, “go play well” without any further discussion about what that means. Interestingly, every time I put a group of people from any business in a room and ask them what good coaching looks like they come up with a pretty good definition but when you go look at organizations and evaluate their effectiveness at coaching, you find very few people actually coaching according to that definition.  If they can define it in a workshop they can define it for their business but many times they simply don’t and without defining it, you can’t expect it to happen.  Your definition of good coaching doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be better than your current state.  The irony of this is that if they took the time to define it well in the first place that elusive measurement of effective coaching gets much closer to reality.

Good coaching is one of the most powerful forces you have at your disposal to change the game, create sustainable growth and achieve success.  No team is successful for very long without it and yet with it, the potential of your business increases significantly.   There are many reasons that businesses don’t place a priority on effective coaching.  None of them are justifiable if you want your business to be better than it is today.

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