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Developing Talent in Times of Change

Developing Talent in Times of Change

Coaching is an essential part of the toolset for improving organizations. It addresses the personal growth of individuals and fosters a more (self-)conscious behavior of the individual in their roles and their contribution to the organization, leading to organizational growth and intrinsic value generation. 

Coaching individuals for the success of the organization

In the modern business world, where change is the only constant, organizations are perpetually faced with changing boundary conditions: changes in markets, products, developments in the supply chain and regulatory requirements, and politics, just to name a few. Large organizations are not abstract constructs that can be adapted fast by turning knobs and adjusting parameters. The main constituent of many organizations are people, working together to run all aspects of the organization, for the benefit of the customer, and for their own joint and individual benefit.

“Rare are the leaders of organizations who will tell you that their people don't matter. However, there is a big difference between understanding the value of the people inside an organization and actually making decisions that consider their needs.” 
Bob Chapman (1)

This quote from Bob Chapman manifests that while people are pronounced to be most important to the organization, actually considering their needs is not always a top priority. Arriving at the understanding that the wellbeing of the people influences the performance of the organization and contributes to its value, has not always been a prime focus. 

When organizations evolve, and they constantly evolve, management actively influences the path the organization takes, through well-constructed plans and actions. Developing staff is key for the continued success of the organization. This article discusses the possibilities that coaching the individual offers for driving successful development of organizations, empowering its people, thereby shaping organizational excellence. 

“Coaching individuals. Shaping organizational excellence.” 
Dr. Markus Riester

Empowering individuals

Great organizations develop through the actions and interactions of great individuals. Empowering the individuals to engage, make relevant contributions and perceive that they are needed for the continued success of the organization is essential. Developing individuals to deliver their best contributions is key on every level of the organization. One key driver is continuous development through job-related training and education. In addition, the more responsibility individuals hold, particularly when they are responsible for leading people, there is a critical driver for individuals – for leaders – to be trained in: understanding themselves, knowing the contribution of their personality, their way of communicating and interacting, and the influence that they have on others. 

One great way of empowering individuals is to match them with a coach that supports them in their personal growth journey, enables them to share their experiences. By daring them to go beyond their current personal boundaries they experience a shift in mindset, the Growth mindset (2). The most wonderful developments can happen when people allow changes to happen, and welcome transformation. 

Typically, this type of training is done on an individual level for staff in leadership positions or ones that are assuming leadership positions; it may however be worthwhile for all individuals, tailored to their specific role in the organization, as team trainings. The benefit of working with a personal coach can trigger growth in a variety of topics:

  1. Enhancing communication skills, allowing a smoother, targeted collaboration with teams, peers, and other stakeholders,
  2. Improving self-image: knowing how I am perceived by others, as person, colleague, manager; know how I react towards others, and how I am influenced by them, 
  3. Exploring frameworks and toolsets for collaboration and decision making: provide support & feedback; challenge common beliefs, develop team members to nurture their growth. 

The role of the coach in empowering individuals

The toolsets and frameworks of a systemic or executive coach are manifold and are always specifically tailored to the individual, to support their development, starting from wherever they are, and accompany them on their journey. The task of a coach is to ask meaningful questions that allow the coachee to develop a better understanding of themselves as person, of their role, and their behaviors. The coach must be responsive, following the coachee in the directions that they choose. Nevertheless, the agreed to goals for the coaching session should be respected as well as a possible overarching goal that is initially identified and agreed to. 

The objective of the coach is to foster development of the coachees understanding of their interactions with their environment: team members, peers and management in the business context, and their spouses and children in the private context. It is important to note that growth of a personality is not restricted to one system, work or private, but develops concurrently and may trigger significant change in both, irrespective of the original source of a development.  

In an organizational context, coaches have the chance to dive into the system that the coachee is working in and help discover behavioral aspects that may have gone unnoticed. The goal is to make those aspects transparent, discuss the influence on the coachee – i.e. their reaction towards remarks by colleagues – and develop perspectives and ways of working that may be more beneficial for the coachee. 

Shaping organizational excellence

Organizations can only become as excellent as the individuals it is composed of. Ideally, the excellence multiplies with the excellence of the individual contributor.

This encompasses any role, be it a manual laborer in production, white collar staff in development, operations, IT, sales – the organization becomes alive and thrives through the constructive interaction of those individuals. Developing an organization therefore has many dimensions. 

First, the functions and their interaction, the business processes, must be identified, declared, and established. While many of these processes are similar from company to company, the way they are implemented will differ, and there might be foci depending on the specific vertical addressed, the level of digitization, the specific value chain within the company. 

Second, professional and sustained execution always depends on the individuals that work with the processes, drive them to their full capacity, and develop them further. As outlined above, the individuals needed for this must be empowered to thrive in their role and deliver their contribution. This should not be misconstrued as Taylor’s theory (3) puts humans into one place where they execute their contribution as foreseen by the organizational design. In modern organizations, the contribution of the individual goes beyond mere execution. Therefore, they must be empowered to contribute to the improvement of their role, challenging the system towards reaching an improved state. While some processes will be more rigid than others – by physics or regulation – other processes are subject to constant optimization. As those processes are conceived by humans, humans can change and optimize them at will, under the scrutiny of the organization’s leadership team. 

On every level of the organization, training the individual contributors creates the option of more thoughtful interactions, driving organizational excellence. This is true for individuals working in manufacturing, where standard operating procedures (SOPs) are key for maintaining product quality. The flexibility for carrying out work is limited, changes in procedures may be subtle and not happen often. When it happens, changing procedures is done in a very controlled fashion, following a defined change process. Staff must be trained to use this process, which is the basis for maintaining high quality production. 

Individuals working in more creative environments, like research & development or marketing, also have guidelines for their work, although they have more freedom in the execution. Creative processes mandate other forms of processes, as they require contributions from individuals not focused on executing repetitive productive steps, but rather to be innovative and combine novel thoughts with existing ones. 

And this is even more true in senior leadership roles. Phrasing it simple: senior leaders – in particular executive leaders – make the rules. They create the culture, are the role models for how individuals in an organization behave. While they may not make the rules all alone, they still are the North Star that everyone in the organization is following. And yet: they are not free to just do whatever they please. Their guidelines are frameworks like policies, regulatory and quality norms, or financial expectations, ESG and compliance. Within those frameworks, they develop and live the rules for the organization they are leading.

The role of the coach in shaping organizational excellence

In organizations, coaches can contribute on many levels and cover a multitude of technical aspects. Often, their work addresses teams, working on implementation of i.e. quality mindset, specific organizational procedures, creating or maintaining work ethos. Leadership is a most critical topic, as it is present in every level of the organization (1). It may be formal and represent specific forms that are implemented deliberately, or may be informal, by topical know-how, seniority or experience: excellence comes in many forms.

The work of Executive coaches typically focuses on developing senior or executive leadership. The focus always is to create a safe space for self-reflection and personal growth, in the particular role and situation of a leader. Executive coaching therefore may be useful for addressing leadership topics on any level of the organization.

Summary

Coaching is an essential tool for developing staff in organizations. It is focused on the development of the individual. The coaching process creates a safe space that allows the individuals to challenge their current self, grow their personality, in their role, and create new levels of understanding useful for advancement in their business role. It will most certainly also lead to benefits and improvements in their personal life. 

Executive Coaching specifically helps individuals in (senior) leadership roles to deal with perceived or actual issues arising from their roles. The personality of a leaders is critical, as it directly influences the way that the organization operates, apart from any formal process. Executive Coaching can support the development of a leader by challenging the way they act within organization. It challenges and develops further their beliefs, their values and mindset, and fosters the development of a growth mindset that leads to the expansion of their own understanding of their role, create options for the development of their state-of-mind. It also helps to identify possible – individual – solutions for their specific role. Coaching is a process that can lead to a transformative experience. It provides a safe space to explore and challenge attitudes, beliefs and values, and helps to identify pathways to a growth mindshift (4). The result may well be a better version of oneself. The benefit for the organization is improved communication, higher level of awareness, aptitude for improvement, and value creation.  Coaching of individuals to become leaders thus is a valuable investment that sets the stage for the advancement of the organization.

Your needs?

Do you need the support of an experienced executive coach to
-   transition individuals into new roles and raise team performance, 
-   shape organisational excellence, 
-   orchestrate transformational change by setting up the best-in-class processes and teams to drive transformational change? 

Please call Dr. Markus Riester, Partner in the Healthcare Shapers network, to accelerate your lasting change.

 

Sources

  1. Everybody Matters (The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family); Bob Chapman, Raj Sisodia, ISBN: 9781591847793
  2. ”Care to dare, Kohlrieser G., Goldsworthy S., Coomb, D; ISBN 978-1-119-96157-4”
  3. Frederick W. Taylor: The principles of scientific management. Cosimo, New York 2006, ISBN 1-59605-889-7.
  4. Susan Goldsworthy, IMD IECC Executive Coaching Training

Autoren des Beitrags

Dr. Markus Riester

Markus is a technology & business strategy consultant and IMD IECC Executive coach. Profound experience in medtech, digital, diagnostics, production, Quality management.

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