India Inc resort to workplace coaching

India Inc struggles to fight the great talent war, and overnight create an army of top end managers and CEOs to take on the exponential growth in the industry, it’s not surprising that corporate coaches are now coming up all over the place.

The coaching is given to certain executives, CFO,CIO and even CEO when management recognizes that they have much higher potential and can be entrusted with assignments of more importance. It is not a case of correcting weaknesses or deficiencies.

Increasing exam fever has a stream of executives and companies heading for that time-tested strategy of private tuitions, when coaching classes are considered too slow.

Mostly, companies are still using coaches to help high performers achieve that critical edge, think strategy, and develop potential. The idea is to cut short the long gestation period that turns a high-performer into a leader of stature.

Sometimes, they’re also called in to help an executive overcome a weakness or skill-gap. Outsiders, professional executive coaches with a history of high performance and experience in management and HR, are fast becoming the preferred choice for companies.

An outsider, without any vested interest in the organization is in a better position to be accepted by the student, and more effective in that he can stay neutral, but at the same time ask the tough questions without ruffling egos or internal feathers. The few executive coaches in India have their hands full these days.

Companies want things to happen very fast. Multinational companies like P&G, Unilever, and GE and some Indian companies like Aditya Birla Group, Godrej Industries, L&T and Mahindra and Mahindra, among others now have coaches working with some of their high potential executives.

It’s not mentoring (where a senior coaches) or counseling (where you seek help for emotional issues) but an outside coach is hired by the company to help realize a high performer’s true potential. Coaching is needed by high performers.

One primary condition has to be met before the learning process starts, the executive must be willing to learn.

The coach works for a set period of time, it could be 6-12 meetings depending on the student’s readiness to change, and each meeting sets some milestones in terms of the changes they hope to achieve.

The coach first helps to bring about change in awareness (knowledge). Then S/he then encourages the student to apply that knowledge so that S/he becomes skillful. The firm then encourages the student (CEO or senior manager), through appropriate appreciation & recognition and discouragement, so the skill is converted into an attitude. This is called knowledge-skill-attitude-behavior cycle.

Some of the common problems that executives need help with these days are: how to manage time? How to have influence and garner support across organization? How to motivate self and other team members? People issues are emerging as a key problem area, according to coaches.

Many executives need help in managing their emotions, because emotions are like virus and they spread easily across teams and organizations affecting productivity and environment.

Executives also need help in tuning their intuitive antenna, especially their ability to understand what is said and what is left unsaid. MNC executives often need help in dealing with continuously shifting power equations as organizations go through global reorganizations or acquisitions and power centre changes.

Coaches begin work like doctors and start with a diagnosis. First, a 360 degree feedback process, lengthy interviews with team members and bosses (often many times), and psychometric tests.