Having worked in the Advertising Business for over 40 years, in both the large International full-service agency and Media Independent sectors I have first-hand experience of the significant benefits coaching and a coaching culture brings to a company.
Total Media grew from a company of five, when I joined to over 100 when I left, six years ago and our coaching culture was always integral to the company. We found that in order to grow profitably it was vital that everyone in the organisation took responsibility for their particular role and perform to the highest standards. They also needed to be given that responsibility by their direct line manager and therefore needed to feel empowered to make decisions. A coaching culture, which promotes these values, throughout the organisation is therefore fundamental.
I strongly believe that any coaching programme utilising professional coaches from outside the organisation (or fully trained internal coaches) should involve both Middle and Senior management. In my experience, this will provide the most success and aid an effective trickle-down of the coaching culture throughout the company. Many people are promoted to management or senior positions without any real experience of either managing people or taking a leadership role. There are fundamental differences between these two, ie management – ‘doing things right’ and leadership – ‘doing the right thing’.
A coach can help the individual to understand the difference which will lead to a much more effective team member. The transition into these positions can be extremely challenging for people and they need support in order to perform as well as they can. An experienced coach can help the coachee to deal with these challenges in a confidential environment, which is important, as the individual may not feel comfortable discussing skills and knowledge gaps or confidence issues with their direct line manager/boss. The coach will work with the coachee to put together an action plan to address both their development issues while identifying and making the most of their strengths. This in turn will have huge benefits for the company in terms of performance.
Something that isn’t often said out loud, but in my view should be, is that any coaching programme provided by the company is very much for the benefit of the company, as well as the individual.
This needs to be clear to everyone involved. The programme therefore has to have a close link to the company’s business objectives and a commercial emphasis. An effective adjunct to the coaching programme, and a way to do this, is for the coach to meet with the coachee and their team leader to discuss what both parties want to get out of the planned coaching sessions. A good time for this meeting would be after the company business plan has been presented to the staff (Which in my view is hugely important) and/or after the coachees' appriaisal/performance review/development discussion. This way everyone is clear about what the companies business objectives are and where the coachee fits in and needs to be concentrating their efforts going forward.
As well as one-to-one coaching I have experienced fantastic results through a team coaching programme. I think the combination of these two initiatives, one-to-one and team coaching, produces the best results for the company. The team coaching helps everyone in a particular group within the company to understand each other better, both personally and professionally, which leads to a more harmonious and productive team. Providing substantial benefits for the people and company.
I firmly believe it is possible to combine both a people-oriented and business-focused company culture. A strong coaching programme is a key contributor to this end.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.