Failing teams and HR complaints are often causes for an employee’s dismissal. We’ve all hired employees who just don’t fit or whose qualifications are not a good match. We’ve also dealt with senior leaders who are their own worst enemies.
Often, the only solution to an employee mismatch is to offer severance, take the lessons learned and rehire – a costly endeavor. But what if there was a faster, more cost-efficient way that had a lasting impact, retained institutional knowledge and improved performance?
Utilize an executive coach
An executive, career, professional or leadership coach – call it what you want – is a professional who provides specialized training, guidance and support to improve an employee’s performance.
Coaches can help fill in skills gaps in training, people management, time management and goals. They can help new managers and executives grow and succeed in next-level positions when a job has greater responsibility. They can also help senior leaders (C-suite) handle the demands of their organizations.
There are coaches who specialize in business, medical professionals, finance, real estate, teaching and more.
Does coaching work?
Coaching can work only if the employee is motivated and committed to the process. If you place an employee on a performance improvement plan (PIP), they may be motivated to accept the help for fear of losing their job. This is different than seeking a coach to guide an employee through a leadership challenge or time of growth with a new position.
Mentor vs. coach
Many organizations offer mentorship programs to new hires and emerging leaders. These are invaluable relationships, but they’re not the same as working with an executive coach. A mentor-mentee relationship is more casual, and the mentee must drive the schedules and have a specific ask for the time spent to be worthwhile.
An executive coach’s job is to provide guidance and assistance, and work with the employee on defined issues. Not many people will admit to their communication faults, poor time management or that they make some people uncomfortable with their off-color jokes. It can be painful to hear constructive criticism and feedback, especially for senior leaders who are used to hearing yes from their teams. Yet, a coach’s neutral stance and outside perspective are most needed and valuable.
Is coaching like therapy?
No. While personal problems and challenges are at the forefront, an executive coach’s role is to help people improve their leadership skills and meet career objectives. Therapy is when someone works with a mental health professional to explore and manage behavioral issues and concerns. While coaches and therapists may have similar techniques and personalities, they have different jobs.
Set the correct expectations
Coaching takes both time and a financial commitment. It’s reasonable to expect an employee to commit to the sessions and meet milestones.
A coach can also offer employees a safe space to explore hard decisions and habits, and lead people through goal planning and thought exercises to help solve problems.
For reluctant leaders, it may be helpful to direct them to resources where they can evaluate and consider the idea of a coach, such as listening to the Coaching Real Leaders podcast where real people with career questions discuss their concerns and how a coach can help them make their next great leap.