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Elevating leadership performance in a post-COVID workplace

Three ways coaching can support professional growth


A typical coaching engagement requires a commitment of six to 12 months to effectively introduce, practice and entrench new performance-improving habits. (gorynvd/Adobe Stock)

If you’ve never worked with a coach, the process may seem foreign.

And while we have latched on to the term “coach” in our work environments, there is a distinct methodology for coaching that drives results.

Coaching, as a practice, is about goal setting, accountability and establishing new habits to improve or elevate performance.

Familiarizing yourself with and introducing professional coaching as a development tool for leaders can reignite the fire so many are struggling to keep alive as a result of pandemic exhaustion.

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How does coaching work?

A typical coaching engagement requires a commitment of six to 12 months to effectively introduce, practice and entrench new performance-improving habits.

The process is centred around the individual and his or her unique approach to the world and to work. The idea is to understand what makes someone tick and what circumstances enable them to perform at their best — and then replicate those success patterns.

The process of coaching involves regular touchpoints with the client to establish a system of action and accountability. If there is a performance issue that needs to be overcome, the coach works with the client to lean on strengths, take a new perspective, or propose a creative solution to remove any obstacles.

This process often uncovers the need for more open communications and, in some cases, spurs a difficult but necessary conversation to move forward.

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Navigating workplace issues

Smart, capable and motivated people benefit the most from professional coaching because they want to perform and are naturally driven, but can also benefit from an experienced thought partner to reposition the problem and help them identify the right solution.

Leaders navigating office politics find better clarity by stepping outside of the situation with their coach, and determining actions rooted in the best interest of the organization and its employees.

The idea of promoting people into a sink-or-swim environment is no longer accepted as a “great opportunity.”

Rather, employees want to know that their organization believes in them and is willing to invest in setting them up for success.

Coaching leaders during transitions can be highly rewarding: employees benefit from clear, professional and thoughtful communication, while leaders feel more confident and sure of themselves. A leader who feels valued will perform better and stay longer.

3 reasons to work with a career coach

Here are three reasons why investing in professional coaching supports leadership growth in post-COVID work environments:

Offer personalized support to your leaders

Eighteen months into the pandemic, many of us are suffering from burnout. A leadership title doesn’t insulate anyone from an overwhelming sense of exhaustion.

Offering options and alternatives to re-energize your leaders and spark their natural drive is more important now than ever.

With the allure of destination training conferences off-the-table and the idea of another virtual meeting feeling like one more thing on the list, coaching offers a meaningful alternative to support your leaders.

The unique value to coaching is its personalization; rarely in our lives or careers do we have access to trained and experienced experts wholly dedicated to us, our goals, our career path, our confidence, our vulnerabilities.

A coach pours focus and attention onto the client and applies all of their resources to ensure the individual has what they need to meet their own goals. Coaching, like most things, is about fit, and if the coach and the leader click, the engagement is sure to succeed.

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Help your leaders self-assess their growth path

Most coaches will offer a consultation with the individual before engaging in a full coaching program. Before the coaching process begins, a thorough intake will be conducted and the more time invested in this stage of the engagement, the better the outcome will be.

Intakes can include questionnaires, meetings with the individual, team members and or managers — and will depend uniquely on each scenario. The intake is the research phase as coaches want to understand what makes this individual tick.

This analysis will help the coach to design the circumstances that enable the individual to perform at their best.

Empower your leaders to set new professional development goals

Coaching is entirely focused on achieving a goal or goals, and often the first session is dedicated to identifying and sharpening that goal because it becomes the anchor for all of the work the coach and leader will do together.

Progress reports and a summary analysis mapped back to the goal is how client and coach remain focused. The entire coaching process is customized to fit each individual and that is why people connect with, appreciate and see value from coaching.

The coaching process isn’t a generic training program; it is aligning a trusted thought partner with your leader to walk with them through a transition, offering new and insightful perspectives to problems and solutions to create the conditions for them to perform at their best.

The process of coaching is a powerful tool to change behaviours, demonstrate support, and make an investment in your talent that will pay dividends in improved productivity, confidence, professionalism and individual growth.

HR leaders can be ambassadors for talent, by guiding leaders to focus on their personal growth through professional coaching.

Crystal Hyde is a professional certified coach in Waterloo, Ont., and founder of Propel Leadership Coaching, which specializes in consultative coaching for executives, teams and emerging leaders.