Do you really know how to coach?

One industry expert says there’s a new strategy which works much better in today’s complex and unpredictable world.

Do you really know how to coach?

HR leaders have long been aware of the benefits of coaching but – according to one industry expert – a new approach can drive even better results for both individuals and entire organisations.

Alison Ticker is the coaching practice leader at Cirrus – here, she explains how HR professionals can adopt a new method which suits today’s increasingly complex and predictable world.

Effective coaching often links individual goals to the goals of the organisation. The results for individuals can be very powerful. However, the impact on the overall organisation is often not considered, so many potential benefits remain unrealised.  Coaching is often viewed as one of the most effective forms of personal development in the workplace. It is rarely viewed as a business-wide intervention.

There is a great deal of research to demonstrate just how effective coaching is. The International Coach Federation’s 2016 Global Coaching Client Study found that the vast majority of organisations see a clear return on investment in coaching in terms of enhanced skills and increased productivity. As the research says, ‘Virtually all companies and individuals who hire a coach are satisfied’. Perhaps it is because there is such a high degree of satisfaction with current methods of coaching that many organisations feel there is no need to change their approach. There is a lack of deep understanding of the lasting impact that coaching can have on the coachee, line manager, team and organisation.

The impact of coaching can be tremendously enhanced when it is viewed as a programmatic intervention. Rather than simply focusing on individual goals, a programmatic approach links groups of leaders to a shared sense of direction. This approach also enables the sponsor of the coaching programme to be very clear on the outcomes required and the behavioural change that is expected. By ensuring that each individual leader is focused on the same, specific strategic goals, a measurable shift in behaviour across the entire group of leaders can be observed and the impact measured.

Often the greatest challenge in any organisational change initiative is the challenge of changing behaviour. Coaching has long been recognised as a highly effective way of helping individuals to change the way they behave. As long as you are very clear about your transformation goals, a programmatic approach to coaching actually change the culture of your entire organisation.

At Cirrus, we call this programmatic approach ‘Connected Coaching’ because it connects leaders both to each other and to the organisation’s big, strategic goals. Another important element of this type of coaching program is that it takes place during a pre-agreed timeframe, such as 100 days. The fixed-term nature of Connected Coaching is central to its success. It creates a clear focus and encourages intense effort on creating change. Leaders on the coaching journey agree goals and actions and commit to achieving results – all in line with overall business goals. This type of coaching program is also a very scalable solution. It works across different business functions and geographical locations.

Connected Coaching requires very highly qualified and experienced coaches. It is important that they work together as a team under supervision. By sharing feedback and noting the trends and insights emerging from coaching sessions while respecting the confidentiality of individual coachees, coaches can provide valuable information for the overall organisation. At Cirrus we have created a digital platform, Strata, which underpins this approach to coaching and enables leaders to track this kind of valuable feedback. Its digital dashboard displays vital information on what challenges, issues and insights are trending across the entire business. Another function of this digital platform is the measurement of impact that the coaching is having on the coachee, team and organisation. This information is helpful not only to HR leaders but to all the senior leaders in your organisation. It is a way of measuring how well your business is achieving its strategic goals and can highlight issues before they become huge problems.

Another benefit of this type of Connected Coaching is that it tends to be very appealing to participants, as they become a community of leaders and managers embarking on a journey of transition together. Because of this, the take-up rate tends to be high. In our experience, many more people are keen to sign up to a program where they can expect to see results for themselves and for the business in a relatively short period of time. When we introduce Connected Coaching to clients, we see take-up rates increase dramatically compared to more traditional coaching programs – more than double in one organisation, where 100% of participants also said Connected Coaching has increased the impact they have as leaders.

So, even if your organisation already sees very good results from coaching, I’d encourage you to think about adopting a more strategic, organisation-wide and connected approach. The results could be even more powerful.

Alison Tickner is coaching practice leader and managing director, Asia-Pacific at Cirrus (, a leadership and coaching specialist which partners with major client organisations across Asia-Pacific and Europe. She welcomes your views on this article and can be contacted at [email protected].

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