The Perfect Storm – the right time for coaching
Executive coaching has seen impressive growth in recent years, and it is expected to continue to grow in popularity. Far from a management fad, the current context makes coaching extremely relevant to now.
Put simply, the business environment has never been so challenging. You may have heard the term ‘a VUCA world’ (careful with the pronunciation!), a term coined by the US military to describe the global context we’re living in. The acronym stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, and it is a phrase that is finding increasing popularity in the business world too.
It’s true that business leaders are facing unprecedented levels of change, and yet the pressures to perform personally and drive business success are also higher than ever. So what specifically is causing this volatility and uncertainty for managers?
One of the biggest causes is the rate of change in technology. We are literally inundated with emails – hundreds of them each day. Some managers dare not go on holiday for fear of what they might come back to, or rather take their Blackberries with them in order to try and stay on top of things. Hardly a relaxing break. Add to that text messages, instant messenger, phone calls, Skype calls, Face Time, blogs (sorry!), Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, Instagram, well, you get the idea. Of course it’s all designed to make life easier, but for managers and business leaders it means you have a lot of information to manage.
Technology, along with changing social trends, has given rise to a flexible working revolution. Although flexitime has been around for a long time, and shift work even longer, the modern variation makes managing and leading people even harder than it already was! The rise of virtual teams means that you might never actually see the people you manage. Many people expect to be able to work from home at some point during the week, or from different offices to their manager, whereas others expect to be able to start later or finish earlier to fit around school runs or gym classes or whatever else is important to them. There’s no doubt this drives higher engagement and commitment but it is hard to manage people who aren’t there.
Add to this changing employee expectations from the members of Generation Y, or Millennials – those born in the Internet era who’ve never known a world of letter writing and four TV channels – and the storm is brewing nicely. Generation Y don’t live by the same principles as their Baby Boomer and Generation X predecessors. The word career takes on a whole new meaning, employees no longer stay in a job for life, or even for more than a few years. Financial rewards are less impactful, personal satisfaction and enjoyment have become far more important. Gen Y are ambitious but impatient, values-driven, family-oriented and expect a different style of leadership to the traditional transactional style.
Finally, a key ongoing issue in business is a lack of managerial skills – managers can’t manage! This is nothing new, and hardly their fault. Managers are thrust into leadership roles based on their ability to do the job they came out of, not the one they’ve been put in. Managing people is hard and very few managers are given the training or ongoing support to be good at it.
So, we have the perfect storm, and an ideal time for coaching – a process which seeks to help individuals, often in management and leadership positions, make sense of everything that is being asked of them in this VUCA world and perform to their best. Coaching gives them time to think and reflect, accurately identify their goals and the right strategies to achieve them. Coaching gives them the opportunity to be great at managing people, or anything else they want to achieve. No wonder over one-third of CEOs already use coaches.