The role of coaching in an organization is vital to the success of its employees and the organization itself. There is a direct link between the quality of feedback and coaching employees receive and their job performance. Coaching and feedback is also vital to the long-term professional development of employees. A lack of sufficient coaching can lower morale, increase job dissatisfaction, and lead to costly turnover (Branham, 2005). Sufficient coaching and feedback helps answer the questions of “where are we going as a company?” “how are we getting there?” “how do you expect me to contribute?” and “how am I doing?” (Branham, 2005 p. 73). Coaching and feedback is a mechanism that ensures that the organization’s goals and values are communicated directly to employees, and that the employees’ values and goals become aligned with the organization’s (Branham, 2005). The alignment of goals between employees and the organizations they work for increase employee engagement, which in turn leads to better performance (Branham, 2005).
Coaching and feedback mechanisms are the building blocks of strong organizational performance, but it is crucial that those mechanisms are balanced. In other words, feedback cannot be overly skewed in the direction of the negative or the quantitative. Feedback mechanisms must consist of equal positive feedback, as well as qualitative measures. In addition to coaching, organizations can examine internal systematic structures, departmental functions, and job functions in order to increase performance. Transformational leadership styles in senior managers have also been shown to increase an organization’s overall performance, and these styles should be appreciated and implemented (Barrick, Thurgood, Smith, & Courtright, 2015). The transformational leadership style seeks active participation from employees and makes them feel as if their contributions are valued (Barrick et al., 2015). Generally speaking, when employees feel that they are valued and have a purpose in the organization, they are more likely to perform at higher levels and contribute their full breadth of their knowledge, skills, and abilities (Sherman, 2007).
Literature Review and Analysis
Leaders in organizations are often faced with what many would describe as “problems” and “conflicts.” These situations are typically multifaceted and mired in perspective differences, systemic breakdowns, and competing goals and/or values. Neurobiology, organizational change theory, complexity theory, information theory, and systems thinking back up the notion that these situations should be re-labeled as communication signals from the system that something needs to change (Page & Ferguson, 2005). In a sense, problems and conflicts are feedback mechanisms that should prompt leaders to realize that something within the current “way of doing things” is not working. Leaders should recognize what is happening, determine the root cause, re-label the situation as an opportunity to improve, and approach the situation by identifying what is right (Page et al., 2005). A good coaching approach looks to harness existing strengths and resources, while determining a plan that will allow everyone to collaborate on congruent organizational goals (Page et al., 2005).
Studies on the effectiveness of coaching in organizations reveal that the practice is highly effective when used to develop leaders in training, and improve individual leadership behaviors and individual employee’s performance (McDermott, Levenson, & Newton, 2007 ). Coaching in organizations is typically aimed at improving the following factors or aspects: strategy execution, teamwork, change management, perceived responsiveness of management, employee motivation, and organizational culture and values (McDermott et al., 2007 ). The majority of coaching efforts are aimed at managers who exhibit high potential, senior executives, and managers who pose a derailment risk (McDermott et al., 2007). While front line supervisors do receive some coaching, it is less than those who comprise middle or executive level management. This type of coaching strategy can backfire, as front line supervisors are the ones who directly interact with front line employees. Front line supervisors are also directly responsible for overseeing the motivation and engagement of employees who are in the field providing service to the customer. It would make more sense to invest just as much time and effort into the coaching and development of front line supervisors. This alone would surely impact the organization’s overall performance.
Although front line supervisors do not have complete control in how the job tasks for front line employees are designed, front line supervisors are an integral source of feedback for middle-level and executive management. Front line supervisors can influence the nature of job design to ensure that front line employees feel they are valued. According to theory, employee engagement increases when employees have job functions that give them control (e.g. autonomy), ownership, the ability to use a variety of their skills, the opportunity to be creative, the opportunity to make a difference, and the opportunity to interact with co-workers in a positive, enriching manner (Barrick et al., 2015).
Performance management becomes more effective and reasonable when front line supervisors are directly engaged in the process. If coaching is primarily provided to managers who are largely removed from the day to day operations, the organization can simply not expect to improve. Coaching and feedback mechanisms are directly responsible for the performance of employees, who are directly responsible for the organization’s performance. Developing employees at all levels, according to their strengths and interests, is necessary for organizational improvement. All levels of management need to be actively coordinating employee development plans and identifying ways in which the organization’s systemic processes can be modified to provide employees with increased autonomy, skill variety, creativity, and conducive feedback.
Barrick, M. R., Thurgood, G. R., Smith, T. A., & Courtright, S. H. (2015). Collective organizational engagement: linking motivational antecedents, strategic implementation, and firm performance. Academy Of Management Journal, 58(1), 111-135. doi:10.5465/amj.2013.0227
Branham, Leigh (2005). The 7 hidden reasons employees leave. Amacom: New York.
McDermott, M., Levenson, A., & Newton, S. (2007). What coaching can and cannot do for your organization. Human Resource Planning, 30(2), 30-37.
Page, L. J., & Ferguson, E. D. (2005). Coaching versus or coaching and Adlerian applications for organizations and individuals. Journal Of Individual Psychology, 61(2), 185-194.
Sherman, W. S. (2007). Improving organizations by coaching individual development using the resource-based business strategy. SAM Advanced Management Journal (07497075), 72(4), 40-46.