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“Many employers are still sceptical about coaching,” starts Carmen. “They use it as a last resort, a means of correction when things are not going as they had hoped. A last chance to avoid firing that one employee after all. Time to flip this mindset. A few years ago at Wallenius Wilhelmsen, a market leader in shipping and logistics, we decided to switch up our performance management model. As part of this, we had been looking for ways to implement coaching for some time. But how do you get to it with over 8,500 employees in 29 countries worldwide? Last year, we found the solution in CoachHub, a digital coaching platform that makes coaching scalable.”
Carmen: “In recent years, we have seen a trend where employees want growth opportunities and the possibility to rule their own agenda. This cannot be met with a group programme or overall survey. However, you do not learn at school how to discover and develop your own talents. So, in order to succeed, they need support. And that is where CoachHub comes in. Offering a safe platform that helps employees process challenges and develop new talents without judging is very powerful.
By implementing CoachHub for our team leaders and managers last year, we now have a single system to align their skills while responding to their individual needs. In the meantime, we have been going through a local restructuring in Belgium and, even during these slightly more turbulent times, we have seen markedly better results in the development of our team leaders and managers. Moreover, coaching did not only bring positive changes for the leaders themselves. Their teams also responded positively. For instance, they reported they receive more support and guidance from their team leader.”
Patrick: “The implementation of coaching has an incredible impact on the individual, team and organisation. We see, for example, in companies committing to coaching that employees are really driving their personal growth agenda, well-being improves, performance gets a boost and collaboration is considerably stronger.”
“Today, the team leaders at Wallenius Wilhelmsen even become ambassadors for the coaching model and they encourage their team to take coaching sessions as well,” Carmen continues. “We see a ripple effect occurring and a community is emerging where there is room to give and receive feedback. Last week, one of our team leaders came to the HR department and said: ‘I feel that this is not the right role for me. If possible, I would like to move into another function that is more aligned with my strengths.’ It is amazing that someone feels safe and secure enough to be able to say this.”
Renewing old news
Coaching is not new, but it has taken huge steps in the last few years. “From a scientific perspective, we understand way better today why coaching works, how it works and what potential it holds,” Patrick explains.
“Besides, thanks to digital enablement, coaching is scalable today, making it accessible to everyone. Technology allows us to make results visible without diving into the personal level of the coachee. The world of business is moving more and more towards evidence-based practices and we all have the increased need of seeing results. I witness that sometimes, we become obsessed about measuring just about everything we can. At CoachHub, we define the objectives that are of interest to the company in advance, and also align on the right ways to measure the progress made against these. Next, we engage in an ongoing dialogue to make sense of the metrics.
It is important to add, however, that even though technology has boosted coaching, people are still the core component. They initiate the process and lead the conversations. CoachHub is thus fully digitally enabled, not digitally limited. Moreover, when it comes to AI and coaching, the question I often hear is whether AI technology will be able to add the same human touch and create the same safe space as is possible today during one-on-one conversations between the coach and coachee. I have my doubts about whether we can see this anywhere soon. However, we are currently researching where and how AI could support the coaching journey, and I am positive that the future holds some exciting possibilities.”
The key to the future
The blueprints of coaching are here. Now, it is time to raise awareness about how it allows you to maximise the talent of all your employees and increase employee engagement.
“To take off successfully, a few things are crucial,” Carmen says. “At the organisational level you need to create a culture in which people can thrive and explore their needs and wishes for personal development. Secondly, you need a tool to support that culture and make coaching accessible to everyone.”
“Thirdly, you should provide opportunities to grow and create a safe company environment that encourages open communication,” Patrick adds. “Finally, it is important to mention that not everything is in the hands of the company or HR department. In the end, it also boils down to the motivation of your employees and the extent to which they trust their coach to support them in charting their development path.”