During a recent client engagement I was reminded once again of how critical effective coaching is to success in the workplace. While conducting a gap analysis to identify failure points in a new sales process, one refrain was stated loudly and consistently: “our coaching on the new process is inconsistent, at best.” Unfortunately, this is a theme I’ve heard all too often in my career.
Numerous studies have shown the significant impact that effective coaching can have on performance. One frequently cited study by Olivero and Bane, showed that, “After training alone, the average increase in productivity was 22.4 percent. When training was reinforced with coaching, the average increase in productivity was 88 percent.” And a 2001 case study by MetrixGlobal found that “coaching produced a 529% return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business.” And if the financial benefits from employee retention were included it boosted the overall ROI to 788%.
Given that coaching delivers such dramatic impact, why is it so underutilized in so many organizations? There are a number of answers to that question, including: increasing spans of control limit coaching opportunities, competing priorities, and simply a lack of focus on employee development within the culture. The one that I want to address here is a lack of comfort with the skills required to coach effectively. While many managers are comfortable with setting goals, allocating resources and developing or evaluating reports, they are often hesitant to engage in a performance coaching dialogue.
While traditional classes devoted to coaching provide the context and process for coaching effectively, they fail to develop mastery. Most training sessions can offer only two or three opportunities to role-play a coaching conversation. While this may be sufficient to reinforce the key concepts, it falls far short of developing unconscious competence. Role-playing rarely provides the variety of emotional responses one is likely to encounter during actual coaching conversations, either. And unless there is an immediate opportunity or need to engage in coaching after the training, the limited proficiency that is developed will have faded before the leader can apply the skills in a critical coaching situation.
Fortunately, the latest in Level 4 coaching simulations addresses all these shortcomings. This new rules-based simulation utilizes voice recognition and hundreds of “nodes” to deliver the most immersive experience ever developed. Learners encounter a wide range of “personalities” and emotional responses during the practice sessions. This allows sufficient practice to develop unconscious competence while never delivering the same experience twice. And it has the added benefit that leader’s can use the sim for a just-in-time refresher prior to a developmental coaching session.
Blueline will be launching this new off-the-shelf simulation in the next few weeks. Considering the significant return on investment, shouldn’t you be exploring this very cost-effective means of boosting organizational performance?