As an HR coach or leader, have you heard that there is a movement to democratize coaching? 

Democratized coaching means that coaching is moving away from being a secret weapon reserved for the few, the privileged, and the super-elite and moving towards being available to managers across the floor.

This wave, no, this TSUNAMI is because professional coaching has been around long enough to be a proven superpower behind organizational success on every level. 

We now have irrefutable proof that the bottom line significantly improves when more people can access a coach.

HR professionals have an exciting role to play in this evolution of the workplace.

But before you can lead the way to coach your managers, you have to know a few key components that will help your organization leverage the power of coaching.

You’ll also want to avoid the pitfalls caused by a sea of misinformation on the web and the reality of too many unqualified people referring to their work as ‘coaching.’

So let’s dive into the strategies that will help any HR professional coach their managers effectively.

Strategy #1 – Understand what coaching actually IS

To get the most out of the coaching movement, you have to know what coaching actually IS (as opposed to what it ISN’T).

The International Coaching Federation (or ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

To add to the ICF definition, coaches honour the other person as the expert in their life and work and believe that they are creative, resourceful, and whole. 

The coach’s responsibility is to discover, clarify, and align with what the person wants to achieve and encourage a deep level of self-discovery that leads to personal transformation.

Coaches elicit solutions and strategies generated by the other person, not themselves, and serve as accountability partners to see ideas transform to goals, goals transform to actions, and actions transform to results. 

This process helps people dramatically improve their outlook on work and life while drawing out their skills and unlocking their potential.

Strategy #2 – Understand what coaching ISN’T

As per Strategy #1, it’s also essential to understand what coaching ISN’T. For example, correcting, supervising, training, and reprimanding are NOT coaching.

A coach won’t say something like this:

“I coach when people need more than the expected amount of direction from me, their work needs correcting, they need supervision, extra training, or when their behaviour is out of line.”

Advising, directing, and career counseling are also not coaching, so a coach won’t say things like:

“I advise executives, senior managers, and managers about how they can develop as a leader and achieve their career goals.” 

Fielding calls for chronic complaints and giving personal guidance is also not coaching, and you won’t hear a certified professional coach say:

“I do a lot of coaching, and sometimes it makes me feel like I’m the company’s 911 emergency call center for solving people’s problems. Coaching gets exhausting when they don’t take my advice but keep coming back to me with the same problems over and over again.”

The difference between HR coaching and counseling

As I stress ‘coaching’ and not ‘advising’ and not ‘counseling’ above, you may wonder how HR professionals can distinguish what coaching is if it’s not those things.

The professionally trained coach uses a conversational style that helps people discover and remove obstacles and barriers preventing them from using their knowledge to find a solution. 

This is why HR people who offer coaching services must be adequately trained to do so. 

Unfortunately, sometimes coaching is used as a catch-all word for ‘helping people’ solve their problems, achieve their goals, or improve their behaviour.

But the notion of simply helping people by training, corrections, supervision, and advice significantly misrepresents coaching.

As an HR coach, you probably have a proverbial revolving door of people who come to you to talk through their problems.

You would be wearing your coaching hat if, as you are listening, you wonder: 

“What is stopping this very smart, experienced, and resourceful person from solving their problem?”

As opposed to wearing your subject matter expert hat and wondering: 

“Where did this person’s problem come from, and what can I say to help them resolve it?”

It’s this mindset and skillset shift that is the game-changer, and the difference between counseling your managers and coaching them.

Strategy #3 – Develop a bench of internal coach practitioners

Coaching services are often the responsibility of the HR Department, or it falls into Learning and Development, depending on how your company is structured.

As an HR or OD leader, you can leverage the democratization movement by becoming an internal coach practitioner and building a bench of other internal coaches.

What is an internal coach practitioner?

An internal coach practitioner is a title coined by the International Coaching Federation or ICF. These coaches are employees who have coaching responsibilities written into their job descriptions. 

HR coaches are a great example of internal coach practitioners. Their coaching ‘clients’ are other managers within the company. 

Why is an HR coach or internal coach practitioner beneficial?

The HR coach sees many different issues come to the table, and their coaching skills give them the capacity to coach any topic that comes up. Remember, you are using your coaching skills to draw the solution out of your colleague, not your subject matter expert skills to provide the answers to them.

Your coaching skills also help you recognize topics that require therapy or consulting, and your coach training will have taught you how to refer your colleagues to the appropriate person for help.

Internal coaches are fantastic support resources for people after they have finished training and begin practicing and mastering the new skill they’ve learned.

Internal coaches also put their skills to good use to support their colleagues who want coaching (not advice) on career advancement, who want to develop as leaders, and who want coaching (not advice) on achieving their performance goals for the year.

HR leaders who can coach are appreciated for being a confidant who will support their colleagues to work through issues, be they personal or professional (again, this is coaching, not counseling).

With a bench of internal coaches, you will help ensure that coaching is democratized cost-effectively.

Strategy #4 – Get professional coach training for yourself AND your managers

You may have all of the qualities and inner talents of a coach, but without professional coach training, you will not have the skills to leverage the coaching movement, and your quest to build an internal bench of coaches will not get off the ground.

I have written extensively about coach training and choosing the right coaching school to suit your learning style and goals, but the critical point is that coach training is essential to develop and hone your coaching skills for success.

Coach training and certification for the other members of your team who act as internal coaches is also imperative. Research shows that coaching helps employees improve performance, overcome challenges, reach aspirational goals and build self-confidence. Coaching also leads to better engagement, higher productivity, and enhanced customer service. 

When all the members of your internal coaching bench – your managers – have professional certified coach training, you can be sure that you will reap the tremendous and proven rewards that coaching brings.

The HR Coach advantage

The democratization of coaching is happening not because it’s ‘nice to have.’ It’s happening because coaching is a proven superpower, and the companies adopting coaching culture are getting results that justify making coaching an integral part of their culture strategy.

Leaders in the HR and OD space have an excellent opportunity to set their companies apart from the competition by being at the helm of internal coaching programs.

The point cannot be overstressed: coaching is not a catch-all term to describe helping people. Instead, coaching is a unique profession with a defined set of skills that can be learned.

An attempt to build coaching services within an organization without the proper training or infrastructure will not yield the results that everyone is raving about.

If you want to know more about coaching and coach training, a great place to start is the coaching certification category on our blog, where we have many terrific articles that will set you on the right path.

Or, you may be interested in learning about our Leadership Coaching Certification program for yourself or our Leadership Coaching and Training for Organizations for your team of managers.

If you prefer to start by talking this through with someone, you’re welcome to schedule a call right here.

Source: Corry Robertson