What can HR learn from Executive Coaching?
Article originally published in People Matters.
The trend of senior Human Resource professionals becoming Executive Coaches is catching up fast. The intent for this transition is to add value to their respective organizations, improve their effectiveness and bring the much needed shift in the way Human Resources Function has been functioning.
HR Professionals are continuously looking for newer ways to add value to people and business. They are exploring the possibilities of replicating the best practices of Executive Coaching to Strategic HR. Some of these practices and the roll over impacts have been listed below:
Focus on Talent Development
Like in Executive Coaching, the HR professionals should focus on Talent Development. They must constantly move away from managing the “Head Count'' to developing “Head that Counts''. An Executive Coach supports the business leader irrespective of the functional domain, the newer generation of HR professionals must look for opportunities to invest effort, time and money on people to bridge the gap identified by the stakeholders to strengthen the leadership style, which if not acted upon in time may prove to be a derailleur for employees’ goals and ultimately the organization’s business results. HR Professionals must become the friend and guide for employees across hierarchical levels. They should use a well-defined and clear coaching framework to deliver feedback, as the lack of this framework would make the feedback sound like stating the symptoms. No causes are discussed and may leave the leader confused.
HR Professionals must learn the way Executive Coaches regularly work with clients on the skills that tend to show most obviously during crises. Decision-making, communication, owning mistakes, and delegating responsibly are skills that leaders regularly focus upon. Even if a business leader has never faced a major crisis, those skills have been and will be key to outstanding leadership.
The HR professionals have to start doing much more than just managing compliance budgets. The main role of the HR professional is about facilitating purposeful communication, aligning stakeholder's interests and expectations, encouraging learning, and supporting processes that activate action to achieve organizational goals.
Provide support in finding the solution
One of the biggest mistakes a coach makes is to start thinking for the client. Coaches role is to help the client generate alternatives which he/ she has not been considering and support the client take a better-informed decision and chalk out the action plan accordingly. This allows the client to own the actions, results and the consequences. HR Professionals must move from reaction to response. Under the veil of compliance, HR professionals keep telling employees what they can not do and miss many opportunities to inform employees what they can do. From Executive Coaches, the HR Professionals must learn the collaborative approach in building rapport and trust with their employees. This would help them become trusted advisors for their employees rather than a person whom employees are afraid of. This would support the HR professionals in becoming a resource which supports employees in finding their own solutions and if needed, help them execute. HR professionals would be seen in a positive light and employees in general would be more receptive to their suggestions. It allows the HR professionals providing Feedforward i.e future oriented rather than feedback which is past oriented.
Ask good questions and listen
The best coaches always ask good relevant questions and then intently listen to the responses from their clients. Questions are a tool to trigger the opening of the minds of employees. Poor questions cause limiting thoughts and generate little actions.
HR professionals may learn this skill and can make others feel truly heard, understood and respected. This creates the trust between the HR professional and the employees. It builds a very objective and open platform much needed to assess alternatives and to make change happen, brings permanence in the changed behaviour and prevents the relapse. With the use of 360 degree, one of the most important coaching tools which include stakeholders, they may also include people from the personal and social circle. In the coaching needs, assessment guarantees everyone has a chance to be involved in helping employees grow and contribute consistently.
HR professionals may sow a seed of thought about future opportunities and possibilities. This would support and help the employees to envision a positive future.
HR Professionals must build a personal rapport and relationship with employees like a coach does with the clients. The next step would be to objectively assess the most suited way to support employees. Each employee is different, the way they learn may also be different, some more visual than others, and some are kinaesthetic (learning by doing), and others learn best by reading and writing.
“Different strokes for different folks” is the most apt way to ensure learning happens for the employees.
When a coach determines how a client best learns, he/ she uses the information gathered during rapport/ relationship-building to customize the approach and method for each client to ensure optimum learning takes place. HR Professionals may learn this approach from Executive Coaches to customize the learning based on the style of learning for the employees. It is important for the HR professionals to create learning goals with the employees. They must institutionalize a process of monitoring the progress of learning and ensure that employees are made accountable for the learning, similar to what a coach does by making the client accountable for the goals.
An Executive Coach supports the client to create and execute any change which is required for client’ growth and development for the purposes of achieving superlative business results. The HR Professionals have to ensure that the change narrative is not perceived by employees as an executive mandate; it has to become a shared story. Shared story ensures that employees are able to generate value for internal and external customers by quickly responding and adapting to environmental or marketplace changes. By doing this the HR professional would ensure that the employees are not only assets but also asset creators for the organization.