|Posted on September 23, 2010 at 12:25 AM|
Documented Benefits of ExecutiveCoaching and Case Studies from India
According to McLean (2008) on an average, coaching delivers a returnon investment (ROI) of 5.7 times the original investment made. In another article,Yu (2007) reports that in a study conducted toevaluate if coaching produced results, they found salespeople whose salesmanagers spend more time coaching them reported real performance improvementsover the period. The study concluded that there was a significant boost inproductivity and performance when the manager used a coaching approach. Infact, 36% of the reported differences in performance could be linked tocoaching among those surveyed. These researchers conclude that coaching hasthis effect because it addresses specific performance gaps as comparedto general-purpose training.
In a research study by Turner (2006), executivesidentify five significant benefits of executive coaching as a leadershipdevelopment strategy. These benefits are continuous one-on-one attention; expandedthinking through dialogue with a curious outsider; self-awareness, includingblind spots; personal accountability for development; and, just-in-timelearning. Parker-Wilkins (2006) conclude that coaching assists respondents inthe development of three main competencies: leadership behavior (82 percent),building teams (41 percent), and developing staff (36 percent). Furthermore,Gyllensten (2005) reports that her quasi-experimental study clearly showsanxiety and stress decreases in a group that receives coaching as compared to acontrol group that does not receive coaching. Finally, in a study that capturesthe benefits of executive coaching, Leedham (2005) reports that the mostcommonly occurring benefits from the perspective of the coachees is increasedself-confidence, clarity of purpose, focus on goals, improved relationships,self-awareness, and insights. The case studies in the following sectionilluminate how senior leaders in India have benefited from executivecoaching in this difficult year.
A caveat! Beforeone runs out to hire an executive coach, it is important to note that there aremany consultants now who profess to be executive coaches – however, they havenot received coach-specific training, nor are they credentialed by a professionalinternational body. Blaylock (2008) in his study of the effectiveness ofcoaching interventions (typically lasting between 6 and 17 months) found thatcoaches who were certified had significantly better results with their clients.Thus, HR teams would be advised to select their coaches carefully.
Recent Case Studies from Practice in India (In the following cases, allnames and company profiles have been changed to protect the identities of theindividuals concerned.)
Surya Kant(SK) – Director Specialty Business Group, BPO Industry
SK was a happy man nine months ago when he got his long awaitedpromotion as Director of the Specialty Business, a group with about 300employees. While the BPO industry was feeling the tremors of the recession, SK’scompany was doing well and had not yet faced any serious challenges. In his newposition, SK had to deal directly with the leadership team based in the US and with theheads of the various clients. This role was previously handled by his mentorthe Vice President. Within three months of SK’s promotion, things changeddramatically.
The impact of the recession hit SK’s company as clients scaleddown on existing contracts and business in the pipeline stalled. SK’s mentor,the VP left suddenly over a disagreement with the US leadership. As part of costcutting and rationalization, SK was asked to handle a new division with 250people as an additional charge. The role for that division’s head was not goingto be filled due to budget cuts. Morale in this inherited division was low andthe gossip mill was working overtime. Furthermore, SK had not yet strengthened hisrelationships with the USleadership; they did not trust him completely, as the previous VP had been theinterface until now. All this had happened in less than three months of hispromotion. Never in his previous, very successful 17 years had he faced suchcomplexity, when all fronts seemed to be on fire. At this point in time, heagreed to work with an executive coach, recommended by a friend of his.
As a first step, the executive coach helped SK prioritize hisagenda. Then the coach helped SK explore the operating styles of the keymembers of the USleadership and helped SK understand how he needed to adapt his style to eachmember. SK quickly had leadership meetings and skip-level meetings with the newdivision to boost their confidence and allay their fears. The coach helped himsee the perspective of the USteam in terms of cost cutting and helped him think through how he wouldnegotiate his cuts as against confronting them on each point. In about fivecoaching sessions across four weeks, SK started to get a grip on the complexissues that he was facing and started to deal with them with balance andperspective.
Kishore Rathi (KR) DirectorMarketing, Paint Industry
KR was brought in from the consumer durables industry where he wasat a VP -Marketing to head the marketing and sales for a family owned,well-established paint company, as Director Marketing. The owners of the paintcompany wanted to professionalize their management and decided to inductprofessionals into roles that were until now handled by a family member. Whilethey had stretched their budget to get KR in the top slot, they were happy thatprofessionals were available at a good price thanks to the recession! In lessthan five months, all stakeholders started having doubts about this good deal. KRrealized the difficulties in working with a family owned firm. It took multiplerounds of meetings with various elders to get things going. Since most of thesenior management had been tenured with the company for more than 20 years,they would resist any initiative or action unless it came from the Chairman’soffice. The owners were distressed that KR had not been able to establishrelationships with the key stakeholders within the firm and in the market. Heseemed to be introducing new practices without understanding this new industry.Despite, these dissatisfactions, KR had managed to improve collections, hadcleared many old receivables, and was improving the distribution. In thismature segment, margins had begun to improve. Unfortunately, KR was slowlyalienating himself from key relationships.
Due to a happy coincidence, the executive coach met with KR as thecoach was known to him from an earlier assignment. Over a quick discussion ofhis current situation, the coach suggested that he try out an executivecoaching program that included a 360* feedforward process. The results of the360* feedforward brought out that KR did not listen to people; he tended to bebrusque, and made quick, summary judgments about others. Those he felt were notup to the mark, he alienated rapidly – whether they were his team members,colleagues, or channel partners. He had not spent enough time understanding theculture of the firm and was now seen as bulldozing his way through withouthaving built up internal and external coalitions. Based on this data, the coachstarted working with KR to change his communication style. He started to learnto listen to people, seek their inputs and opinions, and sell his point ofview. He also realized the importance of giving the firm time to understand andaccept changes rather than forcing them through the system.
Ratan Sharma (RS) – HeadFacilities Group, Services Industry
RS was known in the organization as one of the most talentedadministrators and people managers. The facilities division that he ran wasalmost cultic in their loyalty towards him. Stories of how he had helped peopleand in turn, how people had responded way above the call of duty to help theorganization whenever there was a crisis were part of the organization’sfolklore. Therefore, it came as a rude shock, when he was summoned to thecorporate office and asked to reduce headcount by 15%; he was also told thatthere was not enough money in the kitty for increments; all appraisals were tobe marked as less than satisfactory. For at least a fortnight after thismeeting, RS was distraught and disoriented. He knew of the huge waste in manyparts of the organization, addressing these would save far more than reducingthe personnel count of the facilities support team, the majority of whom werefrom the lower middle class income segments. He believed that letting anyone goat this point would destroy the morale of the entire division; customer servicewould suffer, and clients would not renew their contracts. Rather than dealwith this thankless task, RS decided to put in his own resignation.
Ratan had just started working with an executive coach to help himprepare for senior leadership, so he scheduled a conversation to discuss hisdecision to resign. The executive coach helped RS to look at the situation froma broader perspective; the coach helped RS reframe this task as aleadership-learning crucible. RS realized that he would be able to take betterdecisions in laying-off people than any outsider who replaced him. Once hisperspective was changed, RS was able to put together a plan that would minimizethe human cost of layoffs, and to keep the morale of the remaining team high.
The objective of this paper was to highlight what literature saysabout the impact of difficult times on managing human resources. It suggestedthat traditional HR responses were not enough nor were they appropriate; HRshould consider targeted initiatives like executive coaching. After,documenting some of the benefits of executive coaching from various studies,this paper presented three case studies of how executive coaching has helpedsenior executives deal with the unique situations they were facing in the lastone year in India.It is interesting to note that in all three cases, the senior executives foundexecutive coaches through their own contacts or happy coincidence.Unfortunately, in none of the three companies the HR team had considered usingexecutive coaching as a targeted intervention. Therefore, It is recommended that HR teams understand executive coaching as a targeted HR developmentprocess, and seriously explore how they can use it in their organizations ingood times and bad.