Supporting your managers; how digital enablement of coaching can drive strategy implementation

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Several years ago, I was fortunate to work with a brilliant L&D leader within a corporate organization where times were tough. The organization was disjointed due to multiple acquisitions, had a poor reputation for service and was under-performing relative to it’s potential.

There had been a spate of new leaders brought in and a new strategy was emerging, which it was hoped, would lead the organization to a better place. Our discussion turned to the tactics required and specifically how L&D could support implementation. The leader in question believed that a key ingredient would be effective coaching capability within their organization. This approach might best be summed up by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their seminal book ‘Built to Last’ when they said;

‘Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment’

It is common for visionary leaders like Musk, Branson, Jobs, Dyson, Gerstner and others to be lauded and applauded in public, and rightly so. However, what about all those unsung local leaders, managing teams, departments, stores, and units who have tirelessly translated their words into actions and actions into results?

Being a local manager or leader has never been easy, for a start you have two ‘bosses’, those above you who require reports, updates, insights and numbers and those whom you lead that demand guidance, answers, permission and support. Now add a massive dose of change, which is both relentless and increasingly fast paced and you can see that the modern ‘local leader’ needs to be an ‘Incredible’.

We are living through a new stampede where organizations are rushing towards the new opportunities that digitization offers. However, is the real ‘gold’ in today’s rush not organizational ‘agility’? The success of digitization is not the creation of new processes, products and services, but your organizational ability to adapt swiftly to their adoption, promotion and sale!

So, if you will forgive the mixing of superhero analogies, maybe our ‘Incredibles’ need some kryptonite combat assistance!

Coaching kryptonite comes in many forms and can challenge;

  1. The capacity to listen and understand other’s perspective
  2. The capability to provide constructive, supportive and impactful feedback
  3. An ability to recognize the intent of other’s actions and suspend judgement
  4. The vision to help someone reframe a situation and see things from a different perspective

Your superhero local managers or leaders may possess some or all of these qualities, but, one challenge all ‘Incredibles’ struggle with is; being in more than one place at the same time, this has eluded even our most capable heroes, until now!

Effective coaching relies on observation, evidence and consideration amongst other things and if you are not ‘there’ when things happen it can be very difficult to untangle the ‘story’ from the ‘truth’.

Along with our customers, we have uncovered a new means by which superheroes can conquer the ‘place and time’ conundrum and provide feedback on workplace tasks when they have not been present. By leveraging the features of a smart phone/tablet, we invite learners to undertake experiential learning tasks and capture evidence of their approach and behavior via photo, video, text entry, screen shot and voice file, which they share with their ‘Incredible’ local leader. Local leaders can then assess and review tangible evidence and provide feedback, support and guidance at a convenient time.

Furthermore, by leveraging digital to empower coaching moments we provide local leaders with specific feedback questions to answer and relevant criteria by which to evaluate the evidence, increasing their efficiency, effectiveness and strategy alignment.

For example, suppose you have a new process to improve the customer experience;

  1. Invite those accountable for implementing the new process to complete a simulated or real task incorporating the new process
  2. Ask them to ‘screen shot’ their digital inputs or make a short video illustrating how they will deploy the new process
  3. Share this evidence with their local leader
  4. Provide the local leader with criteria to assess the quality of what they observe
  5. Provide the local leader with key questions to use for feedback
  6. The feedback and observations are then returned to the participant digitally with an opportunity for follow-up at a scheduled meeting, if required

The visionary L&D leader we were privileged to work with, made a huge contribution to their organization’s effectiveness and the legacy of that work is evident years later, as the corporation goes from strength to strength in both performance and reputation. It is unlikely that books will be written about the many superheroes who empower change and deliver strategy, but we encourage you to consider how you can support and applaud the ‘Incredibles’ in your organization. Supporting them to deliver effective coaching through the provision of experiential tasks, evidential review and provision of feedback, may just be one contribution in helping your organization realize a return on new products, services and processes.

As the great Jack Welch acknowledged;

‘Success depends on excellence in execution, not articulation’.

We hosted a webinar on how digital enablement of coaching can drive strategy implementation, you can watch the recording here:

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