Coaching, especially within companies, is often associated with and assigned by levels of performance, either good or bad. But coaching can also be used to recognize high potential and to promote inclusion.
Coaching can be used in a variety of circumstances because it helps people make important career, business, and personal decisions faster and more confidently through increased self-awareness. One framework to help categorize such occasions is by ascertaining the trajectory of the individual:
↗ On-Ramp: A staffer’s first weeks and months in a new organization can set the tone for years to follow. Providing 1-on-1 coaching during this transition can help ensure that solid habits are formed with intention and care. An example would be helping a new externally-hired manager adjust to their new company and quickly adapt their leadership style to their new team. Or it could be offering as a means of support to a new cohort of trainees looking to find their way and develop a strong professional start.
↑ Up-Ramp: People can be promoted due to strong performance or high potential. Someone who is on track for promotion needs to prepare for taking on responsibilities that often require new soft skills. To help with this preparation, or to fast-track individuals in order fill a vacancy faster, an individual can meet with a coach on a regular basis over several months. Coaching sessions can provide a safe space outside of the day-to-day routine to mentally prepare, plan how they will practice new soft skills in their current role, and reflect on their progress. Providing coaching as a benefit to rising underrepresented junior leaders can also be a viable means to increase diversity at higher levels of decision making.
↘ Off-Ramp: Many times underperformance is a result of a bad fit in a role, whether that’s a skills gap, the presence of an interpersonal conflict, or a mission-motivation mismatch. Underperforming staff who may be on a performance improvement plan can be matched with a coach to dig into determining what might be holding them back and discovering how best to course-correct. Alternatively, sessions can help an individual come to terms with that they are not a good fit for their current role and develop a win-win transition plan to a new role, whether that’s inside or outside their current team, company or industry.
In any of these cases, companies can leverage coaching to set new team members up for success, recognize and support top performers and up-and-comers, and provide graceful exits when needed.
There are of course other times where coaching can be constructive that don’t fit neatly into this framework, such as when a leadership team is going through a rough patch collectively due to team dynamics.