In order to build a sustainable coaching culture within a company, organisations have to invest in leadership development, and their leaders/managers have to practise coaching in the first place. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Even though “questioning the value of coaching” is diminishing in the business world, some organisations are still spending considerable sums on professional coaching without even measuring the ROI of their coaching investments.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, the main reason why investments in coaching become a “waste” is “uncoachable executives” who basically don’t have the readiness and/or willingness to be coached. This insightful article talks about a behavioural pattern of red flags that indicate when a coaching investment will be wasted. Let’s briefly see what they are and how digital coaching can overcome these challenges – from our experiences at SparkUs.  

1- Executives who don’t take responsibility for their problems

The leaders with this mindset blame external factors (unqualified team, limited resources etc.) when things go wrong and they often ignore feedback if it doesn’t align with their view of themselves. Harvard Business Review suggests that “conducting a non-judgmental, just-the-facts 360-degree review could help them see the reality of their situation.”

Digital coaching comes into play with its data-driven approach where outputs can be monitored in real-time. If executives are not willing to take responsibility for their development, they tend not to do coaching exercises on the digital coaching platform in the first place. Some of our clients in the banking and technology industries have chosen to limit such coachees’ access to a professional coach for one-on-one sessions unless they demonstrate some level of engagement in the coaching process. 

For leaders who actually start their digital coaching process, it is possible to translate their coaching process into tangible insights and measurable results, without breaching coaching confidentiality. No doubt, this will help organisations show the facts (leaving no room for assumptions) in their reviews with the executives.

2- Executives who can’t just find the time

It is not possible to coach the “too-busy” leader who constantly cancels sessions, reschedules, or is distracted with work even when they attend their sessions. Their inability to manage a busy calendar, prioritise tasks or delegate is actually a sign that they need coaching. So, they need to replace the mindset of being proud to be busy with setting aside the time to improve themselves through coaching.

To benefit from coaching 100%, leaders must create the time to be fully present throughout the whole coaching process. Digital coaching enables coachees to adapt the coaching process according to their own schedule, to go at their own pace, and it gives them the flexibility to prioritise their tasks. They can allocate time as one hour a day, after work, etc., and they can access the resources and tools from wherever they are. Our experience shows that more and more people are accessing the digital coaching platform via their mobile phone, and most people use their commute time to dive into their coaching journey.

3- Executives who focus on quick fixes rather than on long-term meaningful transformation

Not only the executives but most people who are about to receive coaching assume coaching is a quick fix through which their coach will provide them with the answers, secrets, and tips to success. In order for them to understand the true meaning of coaching, they need to see the bigger picture which will pave the way for their self-development. This means there is a time investment to be made for executives not only to trust their coaches but also to trust the coaching process.  

Digital coaching comes into play to establish that trust in the process, by building a clear path for coachees at the start of their development journeys. In this context, it aligns the executives’ needs with business objectives through conversations and shows a comprehensible way through providing access to information and training materials, especially if the organisation matches their learning efforts with development efforts. 

In this regard, one of our clients in the energy industry chose to integrate our digital coaching platform into their internal learning management system (LMS) so that coachees can first define their development goals through coaching before jumping into training materials that are not relevant to their needs.  

4. Executives who constantly claim that they don’t have “the right coach”

It’s quite important to have a connection between a coachee and the coach. But a constant rejection of qualified coaches or questioning the purpose of coaching (when already explained) are considered as red flags. According to the Harvard Business Review, this is an engagement problem which can be caused by a defence mechanism. It can also be a signal that the person is not ready to confront their shortcomings, which usually stems from insecurity. 

In this regard, a successful approach to ensuring engagement is to help the leader understand that coaching is for their personal development and career growth, but that it also has a significant effect on the success of the organisation. Reframing coaching as an investment the company is making in their development rather than a personal fix helps leaders view coaching as something that supports them in achieving their goals. As in sports, in business, too, coaches are there to develop champions. 

However, the emotional investment of executives isn’t enough by itself to keep them engaged. It’s equally important to provide them with personalised and relevant content according to their goals. And thanks to digital coaching, curating personalised and meaningful content to coachees is possible – even on larger scales. 

Leave no space for the coaching investment to be wasted

Digital coaching not only supports leadership development and helps leaders equip themselves with Leadership 4.0 skills, but also allows HR managers to interpret data for actionable insights so that they can measure ROI through tangible reports. 

Digital coaching is also adaptable to large-scale businesses with lower budgets compared to traditional coaching, allowing HR managers to personalise coaching conversations without overspending.

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