Friday, 16 December 2011

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

As an organization grows in size and stature, the values that it once prided itself upon gets corroded over time. This is especially true when there is no strong leader to mould the right mind set. Traditions and cultures that take many years to build rest on the foundation of the creators that have brought them forward by taking time to explain, teach and nurture. This cycle is repetitious yet crucial in maintaining consistency in an organization’s vision and mission. Unlike the 1980s, when it was slower-paced, challenges in the workplace are getting increasingly daunting as the bar for performance and productivity are raised. Lesser emphasis are placed in the coaching of employees but more on profit driven objectives to stay afloat amidst flagging economies. 

However, in order to thrive amidst challenging times, a forward learning organization is required along with its similar-minded employees. The ability to adapt to harsh situations and change along with the market and relevant trends is vital. To then harness this ability requires learning executives with managers that actually coach their subordinates instead of throwing them to the deep end of the sea and watch them learn to survive the turbulence. Over the years, coaching has gained recognition as the critical platform for successful organizational change and learning initiatives. CIPD (Chartered Institute of Development) has also reported an increase in the use of coaching tools within organizations.

What is coaching exactly? Jo Lamb, from suite101.com, defines coaching as a person who teaches and directs another person via encouragement and advice. Winston Connor, former HR Vice President, further elaborated on coaching as managers who are able to tailor coaching methods to each individual to create an impact and cause behavioural changes. 

There is an old saying that goes“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” To further build on this, one has to consider thatwhat is taught to subordinates will not only shape how they work and what they believe in, it will eventually shape what they will teach their subordinates as well in the future. It essentially a slow but sure effect in shaping the entire company’s future. 

Who else better to coach than the very leaders of the organization? 

Carrieanne Larmoreg, an e-Commerce entrepreneur and writer, shares 4 simple but key roles a great coach needs to play to allow employees to flourish and become a better asset to the organization.

The coach has to first of all, guide. Amidst the mounting workload, time and patience has to be taken out to share, teach and show. While it is easier to feed employees with instructions, leaders need to know how to appropriately trust their employees and challenge them with tasks and responsibilities for them to grow in confidence, experience as well as a sense of achievement at the end of the day. It is also one thing to trust and another to blame when things go wrong. With trust comes support. The willingness to stand by them in their decisions, offer advice and help in time of need. Lastly, leaders need to monitor their progress or the lack thereof to be able to timely render appropriate assistance, reward or advice before tasks gets bungled up or employees become dejected from the lack of appreciation.

Organizations such as Deloitte, KPMG and Mercer also assert that the current generation of employees are no longer blindly loyal to companies but to managers who take an active interest in their development, time to teach and patience in listening and working with them. Similar to an athletic coach, who stand by the side lines and watch their players play, they should also be able to draw out employees’ strengths and talent and bank on it. 

Editor: JT

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