Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The difference between getting some coaching and having a coach

Last night I pre-recorded an interview with Dr. Sonia Davidson for CaribHR.Radio. She made the point that  human resource professionals need to be role models. The topic happened to be corporate wellness but we went well past the easy stuff like running 5k's and putting in corporate gyms.

Instead, we looked at the need for HR practitioners to get mental health assistance - not after the fact, but proactively. After our conversation a wider thought struck me: having a coach isn't a widely accepted practice in corporate Jamaica.

The assumption in most workplaces is that coaching is a luxury... until it's desperately needed. Then, it's seen as a final effort to help someone who is in "Big Trouble." Possibly, they are just one step from being fired.

At that moment, the expense is seen as a requirement, but the damage has already been done. Performance has dipped, a reputation has been sullied and the person is already dispirited with their resume doing the rounds. Unfortunately, this last-gasp approach is encouraged by HR practitioners. They don't appear to distinguish between an ongoing coaching relationship and casual advice offered by a well-meaning friend.

In 1995 I hired a coach to help me become a better business owner. I had recently started my own training at CoachU, where the trainers emphasized the necessity of having one's own coach. Trusting their advice, I hired an expert and began a relationship that lasted until 2006.

Over the course of the decade, the quality of our conversations shifted dramatically. In the beginning for example, I was late for our first call. She responded quickly by including a paragraph in our agreement: if I were late again, her rate would increase by 50%, then by 100% if it recurred. After the third infraction, I would be fired as her client.

In 11 years I was never late for a single call.

As you can imagine, after working together for so long, she learned all my foibles and the conversations were far more impactful than they were at the start. She could not be outsmarted by the mental tricks I played on friends, family and colleagues where I could evade responsibility or accept sloppy standards.

Furthermore, she was highly trained. Speaking with her was unlike any conversation I ever had with others. Plus, her list of accomplished clients meant that she had a vast experience that novices coaches, or the average manager, simply did not possess. As a result, I owe a lion's share of my professional success to her persistent, continuous help.

You could imagine how these kinds of relationships could be a tool in transforming your company. Perhaps as you look at the aspirants to the executive suite you shake your head... so much raw talent, but so many glaring flaws.

However, the place to start isn't with them... it's with you. Until you have benefited from a long-term coaching relationship it's hard to be an advocate of its value. So take Dr. Davidson's advice and be a role model. Let people see that the HR practitioners in your firm are proactive, receiving the best coaching in the company... not the least.

Francis Wade is the founder of CaribHRForum, an author and management consultant.

This article is a monthly contribution from a member of CaribHRForum. With over 600 practitioners in its discussion list, it’s the largest online network of HR professionals in the Caribbean enjoying CaribHR.Radio, CaribHRNet and CaribHRUpdates - www.caribhrforum.com

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