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Business Journal

Coaches: Essential to Building Strengths-Based Companies

Coaches: Essential to Building Strengths-Based Companies
by Brandon Rigoni and Jim Asplund

Story Highlights

  • Coaches work regularly with employees to develop and apply their strengths
  • Coaches are powerful educators and antidotes to complacency
  • Every coaching conversation has performance at its core

This is the fifth article in a seven-part series.

Keeping a strengths-based culture alive and thriving is an ongoing process -- and it's not something company leaders can tackle alone.

Top-performing strengths-based organizations deploy internal strengths advocates and champions: on-the-ground coaches who help leaders, managers and individuals fully develop and apply their strengths. Strengths champions stoke the strengths fire every day by spreading enthusiasm and ensuring every worker translates strengths awareness into action.

Investing in coaches, and in building strengths-based organizations generally, pays off. Gallup recently completed global research on companies that have implemented strengths-based management practices. We found that 90% of the groups studied had performance increases at or above the following ranges:

  • 10% to 19% increase in sales
  • 14% to 29% increase in profit
  • 3% to 7% higher customer engagement
  • 6% to 16% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 26% to 72% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 9% to 15% increase in engaged employees
  • 22% to 59% fewer safety incidents

Even at the low end, these are impressive gains. In working with hundreds of organizations, Gallup uncovered the characteristics common among companies that accomplished the most with their strengths interventions. These companies often work toward creating a strengths-based culture using seven strategies, and building a network of strengths coaches is one of them.

Why Coaches Make a Difference

Strengths coaches drive organizations to higher performance because they help workers maximize their potential. Without strengths experts, enthusiasm about strengths dims, and employees struggle to fully apply their strengths to their responsibilities. Coaches act as powerful educators and antidotes to complacency -- keeping strengths alive at all levels of the company.

When workers feel stuck or stagnant, or when challenges arise, strengths coaches intervene -- serving as navigators and trusted advisers. Because strengths coaches invest in people, they help organizations facilitate and accelerate development and performance. During times of change or with new company initiatives, coaches help workers approach the situation with the right mindset so that every worker is prepared and motivated to succeed.

Even when companies are thriving, coaches push for improved outcomes by encouraging workers to build stronger relationships, increase self-awareness and strategize for the future.

One investment management company dramatically improved its performance by developing a network of internal strengths champions who helped employees use their unique strengths to accomplish key performance objectives. In a competitive and ever-changing marketplace, the company's coaches helped workers lean on their strengths, adapt quickly and exceed performance goals. As a result, the company is now a leading player in the U.K. and has bested many competitors.

What the Best Strengths Coaches Do

Coaches do more than teach people about their strengths: They train workers to excel in everyday scenarios and harness long-term enthusiasm for strengths.

Here are three practices the best strengths coaches employ:

Guide people to their greatest potential. As well-versed strengths experts, coaches know the secrets to success -- including how to help others use their strengths. The coaching process begins by building rapport and meaningful coaching relationships, followed by helping people understand their strengths profiles: how they naturally think, feel and behave.

After guiding workers to a heightened appreciation of their natural talents, coaches encourage employees to become dedicated to developing their talents. From new hires to seasoned contributors, coaches strive to instill a sense of empowerment in every person they coach. With their contagious enthusiasm, strengths champions inspire employees to own and develop their natural abilities.

Stay anchored in strengths. Great coaches keep individuals and teams firmly grounded in strengths. They help others leverage their talents to address challenges, collaborate more effectively, accomplish goals, and understand their biases and vulnerabilities. Coaches concentrate on workers' successes -- not failures -- to apply research-backed practices proven to drive performance outcomes.

Focusing on strengths does not mean ignoring weaknesses: Effective coaches are aware of and discuss their clients' potential problems. But rather than obsessing over these weaknesses, coaches help people mitigate them by developing strategies to manage around them when possible.

Focus on performance. Every coaching conversation has performance at its core. Strengths coaches help people attain and surpass performance goals by:

  • clearly defining desired performance outcomes
  • navigating each employee's optimal path to success using strengths
  • charting progress with objective milestones
  • adjusting the route when necessary
  • celebrating achievements along the way

From large teams to individual contributors, coaches help all employees -- even leaders -- intensify strengths outcomes by equipping workers to better use their strengths. And by acting as accountability partners, coaches can advance the positive effects of strengths-based work environments.

Coaches help leaders realize their chief strengths aspiration: sustaining a vibrant strengths culture. In doing so, coaches improve employee engagement, attract talented job seekers and, ultimately, allow companies to make the most of their strengths initiatives.

The next article in this series will focus on external brand building.

Bailey Nelson contributed to this article.


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/199487/coaches-essential-building-strengths-based-companies.aspx
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