Future-proofing a workforce is the process of anticipating the future and developing approaches that minimize the effects of shocks and stresses of future events. It is a strategic initiative that can add intrinsic value to an organization.
At first glance, career coaching may not seem like a tactic directly related to future-proofing, but it is an activity that can help employees align their interests with those of their company, think in new ways about how to grow their careers, and provide guidance that is not addressed through performance and talent management systems. At a time when human resources executives are increasingly being asked to create value and contribute to achieving an organization’s overall strategic objectives, career coaching can pave the way for transformation that will inherently enrich company culture and drive progress.
beyond traditional performance management
As the building blocks of an organization, people propel a company forward. What if employees could proactively drive themselves forward in their careers and, at the same time, drive their organization forward? What’s good for each employee’s career, when multiplied across the organization, is good for the company. How do you empower your employees to achieve this?
Traditional performance and talent management systems, along with succession planning, ensure that employees are in alignment with short and long-term organizational objectives. Talent mobility, which enables employees to try new things in their jobs and to move within their organizations to grow their skills and experiences, picks up where these traditional systems leave off. The onslaught of technology, artificial intelligence and globalization is driving organizations to dynamically develop and evolve with the marketplace. Talent mobility solutions help organizations develop the agility required to keep things progressing smoothly, and are fast becoming a current market best practice for developing and redeploying talent. Career coaching is a fundamental component of a talent mobility system and an effective way of helping employees and organizations through transitions.
career coaches fill in where traditional systems leave off
In-house education programs are typically focused on hard and soft skills related to specific functions, and do not offer career coaching or job search–related skills. Career coaching fills a gap that performance and talent management systems don’t address by teaching employees at all levels – from entry-level to executive – these valuable skills, which are essential to facilitating organizational progress.
Additionally, managers are typically under pressure to achieve short-term company objectives. This focus can take up a full work week and beyond. Fitting in performance management to busy schedules is a challenge and frequently falls to the bottom of the priority list. Managers often do not have the skills to provide sound coaching to their employees, nor do HR departments customarily have career coaching expertise on staff.
Career coaches specialize in supporting employees in all functional areas and at all levels of the business, providing a comprehensive service that can complement and improve the results of the performance management function, while also taking pressure off managers and HR to ensure employees are fulfilled from a career progression perspective.
Career coaching also enables employees to connect the dots between personally meaningful objectives and company objectives to develop a thoughtful plan of action. Coaching can be particularly helpful for employees who want a sounding board, or need help sorting through their data to understand what matters most to them and to identify barriers that may exist. For others who may be too busy to quickly apply their results, or who feel they are procrastinating for whatever reasons, a career coach creates accountability to fast-track career development planning and execution.
how career coaching motivates and drives progress
Career coaching helps employees develop skills, build roadmaps to navigate internal career opportunities, and stay motivated and on track to achieve their career-related goals. Employees learn job search tactics and career strategies, as well as how to uncover opportunities for both the company and themselves that might not otherwise be recognized or found.
Specifically, career coaching will facilitate:
1. Finding clarity, meaning and focus – Employees are provided tools and methodologies to reflect and discover, establish new ways of thinking and take actions toward change. Finding meaning is at the core of intrinsic motivation. The experience of career coaching empowers sound decision making, boosts confidence, and promotes positivity and objectivity in employees.
2. Brainstorming – Employees learn to see circumstances through a different lens. They become inspired as they begin to see new possibilities and start to think opportunistically. Their enthusiasm grows as they start to work collaboratively with their coach, discussing possibilities discovered through the synergy of teamwork. The results can flow into the daily functioning of the organization.
For example, an employee who views their career as an upward trajectory along one path may realize, through coaching, that there are multiple opportunities – whether role- or project-based – across the organization they could consider to build out their experiences and skills. A career ladder transforms into a career lattice, and thus, helps future-proof the employee while also adding value to their employer.
3. Planning and accountability – The planning process involves research, analysis, navigation and accountability. Employees learn how and where to gather career-related data and how to turn this data into actionable information. They complete mapping exercises to match skills with demand and to identify gaps, which is where opportunities are born. Coaching clients to build these roadmaps promotes the creation of new ideas and solutions for both the employee and the company. And, maintaining accountability with a coach prevents good ideas from getting lost in the shuffle of high workloads.
4. Communication – Employees build awareness of their skills, personality traits and accomplishments, and learn how to articulate these. Coaches help employees develop effective messaging and value propositions, as well as teach them how to communicate in a succinct, professional and consultative manner. Employees can gain or enhance the in-demand soft skills of negotiation and influencing by learning to market and differentiate themselves with the goal of impacting decision making.
These skills don’t come naturally to many employees and will go a long way toward building confidence that will lead to tangible results for the company. The dynamics and benefits of coaching are endless and can be powerful. By enabling employees to learn and improve skills as they relate to career advancement, an organization is strengthened from the inside out. In the long term, the cumulative effect of coaching is to strengthen the core of the organization.
what do organizations have to gain
Opportunity is defined as a set of circumstances that make it possible to do something. Career coaching helps uncover opportunities and can even create and define possibilities that didn’t previously exist. In essence, coaching produces synergy that can initiate taking action toward improvement or change. These effects of career coaching can:
- Improve employee satisfaction – This is achieved by making work meaningful. Career coaching facilitates the transition of employees to new internal roles, and has the effect of strengthening the overall company culture as employee satisfaction grows.
- Create an HR value proposition – Combined with the results of other HR initiatives, HR departments can maximize the ROI of their employees, enable their organization to become an employer of choice, streamline outside talent acquisition and minimize the costs associated with external hiring.
- Improve organizational agility – When employees take ownership of career progression and learning skills (e.g., planning and execution, coping with change, thinking opportunistically, effective communication) to future-proof themselves, organizational agility will follow as their newly acquired skills are applied to their functional areas. The effects and results of this process can snowball in a positive way throughout the organization.
- Maximize ROI in employees – Typically, when companies pivot to react to market dynamics or financial pressures, their employees are laid off. Organizations can minimize this reactivity and implement proactive tactics that can maintain the investments that both the organization and the employees have made in each other.
Just as technology automates and promotes efficiency, so can career coaching make future-proofing inherent in a company’s culture, serving as the oil needed to help the machine achieve peak performance.