Why Innovative Businesses Offer Coaching for All Professionals

Coaching Has Power

Competition drives businesses to innovative—but innovation isn’t just for the products and services they market. Innovation also includes how companies get the product to market. With “people operations” being a large cost to the bottom line, businesses are looking for ways to reduce pay or get more productivity from their employees. With change comes opportunities as well as challenges. With a changing mix of generational work preferences and soft skills, business leadership should be asking how the increase in remote working, competition for talent, and managerial coaching will affect their profitability in the future.

Remote Working

In more recent history, the open-floor plan with cubicles and few closed-door offices exploded throughout corporate America, touted by consultants as the next best thing to sliced bread as far as office design went. C-Suite took their bait on the selling points of innovation and productivity. How that concept passed any reasonableness test still baffles me today, but it’s easily explained as a cost reduction exercise in rent per employee under the disguise of collaboration. Open floors drove people to mediate their circumstances by either working from their home office or donning headphones to block noise and distracting hallway conversations. I would argue that employee collaboration took a step back, as technology allowed employees to work more remotely and independently.

Some employees who enjoy the freedom of working from a home office express feel less connected from their co-workers. Without face-to-face engagement, relationship bonds can weaken, and in many cases, remote employees never forge a relationship with new employees. Remote staff have limited opportunities for casual conversations in the break room while grabbing a cup of coffee or in the conference room before a meeting. Connection is built in small interactions over time and keeps the team accountable to each other.

Generational Work Preferences

Technology has enabled people to isolate themselves while working remotely. Even when a boss requires an employee to work in a cubicle, email and SharePoint allow one to communicate without a verbal conversation. Need to learn something new? YouTube probably has an instructional video.

Effective communication requires one to use all parts: words, tone of voice, and body language. Did you know that words comprised only 7% of the message? How much is lost in translation when one primarily uses email and other forms of word-based technology to convey messages.

A teacher recently shared that with every incoming 4th grade class, the students resist more and more when asked to work in groups. They beg to do the assignment by themselves. What happened to the days when the teacher announced a group project, and the kids responded by raising their hands and pleading who they could work with. Are soft skills under attack and underdeveloped based on the technology advances?

Managerial Coaching

Technology has also shifted the responsibilities of supervisors by pushing more administrative duties onto their plates. Managers had to make room for these tasks, and in some cases, even added work assignments to the mix for the sake of increased productivity. What would you think was prioritized out of their day? If you answered, “time coaching their team and helping their direct reports be successful,” you’d be correct. Managers would like to spend 25% of their time coaching, yet many have no time left over other than to make sure the work gets done.

A Professional Coach Is One Solution

How will businesses respond to the changing work climate? They can certainly restructure work and put coaching at the forefront of a manager’s responsibilities. Given the prolonged impact of technology, some managers have never developed the skill of coaching or perhaps need a refresher. A professional coach can help a manager learn to be a better coach for his or her team.

A second option is to make business and leadership coaching available as an investment for all professional employees. In the past, coaching has been reserved for top executives, but the benefits of coaching can be leveraged at any level so long as someone wants to be coached. Many employees like the confidentiality afforded in a coaching relationship and feel less vulnerable asking for help from a coach as opposed to their direct manager.

Coaching Can Be Justified

Companies offer tuition reimbursement, training, and other educational options as a benefit to attract talent. Many also budget for personnel development. How much does your company spend per person on employee education and training? Coaching can be a value-add to this portfolio. Personalized coaching is a win-win and can be a company differentiator in attracting top talent, because it sends the message that we value you and want to invest in you if you are willing to invest in yourself.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com



Leadership: Collaborating Across Generational Cohorts

Based on my birth date I am a confused Baby Boomer/Gen-Xer, because I sit in both camps depending on what study defines the age range for each generational cohort. By my self-assessment, I primarily identify with the characteristics of the Gen-Xer. However, no one fits all stereotypes, and I see my profile as a bell curve with my tails in the Boomer and Millennial camps. What concerns me most about the current workplace dynamics is the lack of collaboration and appreciation that cohorts have for one another. Has there ever been such an emotionally charged divide?

How Technology Impacts Generational Cohorts Attributes and Collaboration

Studies show that having the authority and left to their own preferences, people promote and invite into their ranks those who have similar values, interests, and styles. What might this mean for all employees? The likely assumption would be more cohort division and clustering of similar thinking and approaches. When these dynamics are interwoven with current communication platforms, one would naturally forecast that there would be fewer cohorts sitting across the table from one another. Does technology allow shared-thinking groups the ability to silo themselves and hang onto preconceived ideas and stereotypes? Would the absence of web-meetings, working remotely, iPhones, call-in conferencing, etc. force the generations to collaborate and appreciate each other more?

No doubt, technology has expanded the width of our network, yet has it come at the expense of the depth in our relationships? Companies bring more colleagues together through technology platforms, yet have they invested the corresponding resources to foster effective collaboration?

How to Build Bridges toward Collaboration

How can generations learn to appreciate and collaborate more with each other to deliver superior solutions? Part of the answer involves understanding the impact of mindset.  Will people hang onto their beliefs and look for evidence to support how they feel, or will they choose to engage, brainstorm, and build a superior team?

Where would one start? First, acknowledge that technology will continue to be a force that shapes team collaboration across all cohorts. Second, appreciate that generational cohorts are shaped by their macros experiences that form their worldview. Third, be cognizant that people are individuals and some do not hold the same characteristics of their birthed cohort. Fourth, choose to respect and actively work with each style to extract the best of what it can contribute to the situation.

Gen Communication

As the table suggests, cohorts’ preferences differ in what and how to communicate, problem-solve, decide, and lead. Most would agree that good communication is a key competency in influencing outcomes and achieving goals; therefore, colleagues need to answer three questions regarding their communication: (1) how much, (2) how to, and (3) to whom.

Given how technology has expanded access to information and communication platforms,  it should come as no surprise how cohorts’ styles and mediums have evolved. Baby Boomers have a more guarded view of information and prefer face-to-face communication; whereas, Millennials are more collaborative and utilize social media to communicate information. Each style has its merits and drawbacks. Millennials readily share information so teams can make decisions.  Baby Boomers prefer to make more decisions within their peer group and inform the team. The argument could be made that the Millennials’ preferred communication style lends itself to better decision-making because of its increased diversity and inclusion. However, the drawback is the increased risk that sensitive information would be leaked as more employees are involved in the collaborative process.

How to Collaborate through Consensus with the End Goal in Mind

Generational cohort preferences are rooted in human judgment in how best to work towards a goal.  For example, many of my work processes are classic Gen-Xer. My leadership style takes the form of coaching, and when I am asked to lead a meeting, my first inclination is to create a PowerPoint slide deck to lead the discussion.

I propose that cohorts will only increase in collaboration when they choose to de-emphasize a preferred, prescriptive process and focus on developing the best way to meet the objectives. Teams should allow their members some nonjudgmental space and flexibility to carry out their best work. Every member must learn to appreciate and find value in the other work styles as well as remain flexible. The surprise outcome may be the discovery of a hybrid team work style that delivers the right product at the right time.

Generational cohort conflict cannot be solved, because it is rooted in different values and worldviews. Poorly led organizations ignore cohort differences. The better organizations seek ways to manage this conflict, and the best companies leverage these differences to win.

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ specific business needs. She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees. Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.