Ten or fifteen years ago the idea of using “coaching” in organisations was still seen as a bit faddy: mostly for floaty, ‘justifying-my-existence” HR types.
The reality in 2017 is very different.
Thanks to the recent work of people like Dan Pink we’re learning how in the knowledge economy, performance is driven by different factors than simple carrot and stick (PS. His TED Talk on “The Puzzle of Motivation” is well worth 18 mins of your life).
Most people aren’t making widgets or milking cows any more. Hence talk of “the knowledge arena”: a catchall term for the dominant part of our modern economies, where people process information for a living.
The data tells us that in these settings – where problems are ambiguous and solutions are unknown – the old methods of simply telling people what to do and then verbally smacking them if they don’t come up with the goods isn’t just mean, it doesn’t actually work!
Which is interesting enough. However, when trying to be less dictatorial managers often fall into an equal but opposite trap of giving folk complete, unbridled space to figure it out by themselves. Often, this simply paralyses team members through choice overwhelm, and ultimately everyone ends up frustrated with time and money wasted everywhere.
“When trying to be less dictatorial managers often fall into an equal but opposite trap of giving folk complete, unbridled space to figure it out by themselves.”
So what’s a manager to do?
Well, in the middle of that spectrum sits coaching, now seen as one of the most powerful means of enabling performance in a workplace where people make things with their minds.
As a qualified coach, experienced project manager and former Head of L&D at one of the North’s leading web agencies, we asked Matt Stephens – founder of “Front of the Herd” – to give us his take.