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Cherishing talent: the art of coaching

Curious, entrepreneurial employees are what drives a company in today's rapidly evolving environment. So, creating a stimulating atmosphere where people get the chance to explore and develop their talents without judgement becomes necessary in every organisation. And that is exactly where CoachHub comes in. “It is time to change the perspective that coaching is only for the lucky few”, states Patrick Rütten, Senior Behavioural Scientist at CoachHub. “It is a proven practice that has advantages for all kinds of industries and use cases.”

At Materialise, a Belgian 3D-printing company, they are convinced that coaching is the future, to give people the chance to own their development. “With 2,400 employees in over 26 countries, it is not easy to make learning tailor-made”, says Valerie Van Sannen, Global Talent Development Manager at Materialise. “However, we want to meet individual learning needs as much as possible and we found an answer in coaching. Convinced about this practice, we started a pilot project at CoachHub, a company that not only ticked the boxes in terms of requirements, but at the same time was an extension of our company values.”

What does CoachHub’s talent development programme look like?

Patrick: “CoachHub is fully digital. On our platform, coachees start by choosing their favourite coach, a process that is supported by our AI matching feature. A good ‘click’ has been shown scientifically to be one of the main predictors of coaching success. Once they have found the perfect match, they can obtain an initial ‘strengths report’ based on a short self-assessment, indicate which topics they would like to focus on and schedule as many digital conversations with their coach as they wish. In addition, the platform displays complementary content to the individual track of every coachee to inspire them, to practise what they learn during the sessions or to find ways to transfer everything to the working environment.”

“Giving employees the chance to choose their own coach and topics is the first way to show that they are in charge”, Valerie adds. “Moreover, choosing the topics beforehand encourages people to start reflecting and also confronts them with themes they might not initially think about.”

Coaching is not an imposed punishment, but an opportunity everyone deserves. It is a safe space where you can talk about anything you want with an impartial person.

Patrick Rütten

“From the first contact with our platform, we emphasise that coaching is not an imposed punishment, but an opportunity everyone deserves”, Patrick continues. “It is a safe and secure space where you can talk about anything you want with an external, impartial person who is standing alongside you during your development. All the information you share is of course confidential.”

Valerie: “Our employees who took part in the pilot project enjoyed having their own safe environment and found coaching a privileged service. We see that interest is growing, ambassadors of the platform are popping up spontaneously after using it, and coaching is clearly becoming an embedded practice in our organisation.”

What are the key factors for successfully implementing coaching in your organisation?

Valerie: “Everything starts at the top. I am very proud to say that, at Materialise, helping people grow is one of our strategic pillars and we really try to create a culture of continuous learning. At any point during their careers, we want employees to find their way in our company whether it is talent development, internal mobility or well-being. People are the cornerstone of our organisation.

Secondly, communication is key. I do not believe that one message fits all. We always start with the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question. Why would I invest in my own talent development? What will it bring to me in the end, both professionally and personally? The answer varies from person to person and depends on who you are. That is why you have to communicate differently at the various levels in the organisation. It is time-consuming, but relying on corporate communication alone will not be successful. Differentiation is necessary in order to touch the head, the heart and the hands and make sure your message achieves its goal.”

“Finally, open dialogue on how to design the coaching programme is essential”, Patrick adds. “At CoachHub, we make sure that the programme design is tailored to your organisational-level objectives and in line with the company strategy and culture. Moreover, the briefing we give to our coaches is always customised for every company and programme.”

Why is digital coaching today the key to success for HR?

“Across the globe, we see organisations increasingly focusing on the development of their people in a highly individualised manner”, Patrick explains. “However, until recently there was no alternative to get such granularity of data on what happens during coaching sessions. With CoachHub, HR managers get a clear overview without diving into the individual level.”

Valerie: “We have access to an overall dashboard where we can see which themes are important to our people, what kind of progressions are made during coaching sessions, what the strengths of our employees are and which things we need to focus on more. We get a fresh view to take away and draw new strategic outlines for. That is something you cannot obtain during surveys or with other methods.”