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Building a Deliberate Coaching Strategy Part 1: Why Coaching Matters

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In this series of blogs, we’ll explore why coaching is important enough to your organization to adopt a deliberate, company-wide coaching strategy that spans all levels of the organizational hierarchy  (not just the C-suite). This first post in the series focuses primarily on the business value to the organization, and the impact and value for the individuals being coached.

Why coaching matters. Now, more than ever.

The rate of change across industries is accelerating. Long-standing incumbent institutions, and even entire industries, are being disrupted by a new wave of upstarts (think Hotels vs Airbnb, Big Auto vs Tesla, Taxis vs Uber or, most recently, Hollywood vs Netflix).

Regardless of size, any company will have to adapt to the changing business landscape if they are going to thrive, or indeed survive at all. While technology is – as always – playing a big part in these changes, it is the people behind these companies that are the key to success or failure. Charismatic leaders and inspirational mission statements aside, unless you equip every employee in a company with the ability to adapt to the changes both inside and outside that company, you will inevitably lose pace with the competition.

The only constant is change

Some people love working in an environment of constant change. Others cling to the status quo like a life-raft (with a leak!) Wherever they are on that spectrum, constant change takes its toll on all your employees. They need help to deal with this new normal, and that’s where coaching can offer significant value.

Here are just a few reasons why coaching should be an integral part of your business-aligned Talent Development strategy:

Accelerating Change

Whether an employee is leading a change initiative, or being impacted by it, the change will impact more than just the work they do. It will impact how they do that work, and perhaps more importantly why. A coach can help them to deal with every part of the change journey, from understanding the meaning and impact to dealing with the consequences in both their professional and personal lives. A coach will help them to overcome their natural resistance, let go of the past, and embrace the future. Scale that up and you have significantly reduced the friction to change across the entire organization, allowing you to get there faster.

Increased Engagement 

Employees, supported by a coach, will experience increased levels of motivation and engagement. Some of that will come because they feel invested in – you care enough to support them with a coach. But it will also come from the way a coach can help them to establish their own sense of meaning, purpose and ownership over the work they do. Dan Pink, in “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” (2010) famously called out Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose as the key to motivation. Adopting a decentralized and individualized training and development approach, augmented by coaching, will address each part of that equation nicely.

Increased Retention

With increased engagement comes increased retention, as employees buy into not just what you do, but more importantly why you do it (hat tip to Simon Sinek). They will also be more adaptable to change, allowing them to more easily move across as well as up the org. chart.

Continuous Learning

Change requires employees to absorb new skills fast. Faster than periodic classroom based training can handle. You need to develop a culture of continuous learning within your organization, as employees rapidly assimilate what they’re learning in both traditional and non-traditional ways, as well as determine where they need to go next for their own specific development needs. Coaches will work with employees to establish and harness their unique strengths, development areas, and spot the obvious and, more importantly, less obvious opportunities to work on both.

Accelerated business impact

Continuous learning is great, but the value only comes when it is applied effectively. A coach can help an employee to understand what they’ve learned, and stick with them until they work out how to integrate it into the work they do in a sustainable way. That leads to business impact and increases the ROI of the investments you’re making in the training in the first place.

What’s the Evidence?

We’ve made some pretty bold claims here, so don’t take our word for it.

According to the International Coaching Federation, 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence, and over 70% benefit from improved work performance, stronger relationships, and more effective communication skills (ICF, 2009). Research conducted by Wasylyshyn (2003) indicates that coaching can lead to: 63% sustained behavior change, 48% increased self-awareness and understanding, and 45% more effective leadership.

The ICF also found that 86% of companies report that they recouped their investment on coaching and more (ICF, 2009), through increased employee engagement, growth and retention. Research from the Corporate Leadership Council (2016) supports this, reporting that, “coaching can provide a high return-on-investment (ROI) and satisfaction rate” (CLC, 2016). In one example, a Fortune 500 telecommunications firm reported an ROI of 529%.

As well as these tangible benefits, Phillips’ (1996) report of NHC’s coaching program revealed several intangible benefits that were identified through a questionnaire and action plans. Subjective measures included increased commitment, improved teamwork, increased job satisfaction, improved customer service, and improved communication.

By now I’m sure you’re starting to see the point. Change is happening to your industry, your company, and your employees. Unless you’re absorbing and embracing that change at all levels, you will not survive.

Assuming you are therefore on-board with the challenge, let’s start to explore how you might respond. Our next post will consider how to start designing a deliberate coaching strategy for your organization.

What now?

If this article resonates with you, please share it with others. 

And, if you’d like to know more about how you can unlock the potential in your High Potential employees in a safe, sustainable and scalable way, please visit, or join our mailing list

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