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Covid-19 and the need to create coaching cultures

Nurturing a coaching culture in organisations has long been considered an effective means to achieve a happy, healthy workplace. As South Africans and businesses start to feel the effects of an economic slump caused by Covid-19, the value of coaching has proven invaluable in creating positive, success-driven workplaces able to weather the storm.

When finances are limited and people at their lowest on morale and engagement, companies tend to stop investing in their people, leading to a further downward spiral and with many businesses not surviving the difficult times. It is in these challenging times that organisation’s need to focus on their greatest asset – people.

A coaching culture enables sharing and learning, while encouraging people to be solution focused. It allows for innovation and risk-taking, with leaders believing that people have the solutions to improve the business, a culture that is resilient and agile that can weather any storm and manage any cataclysms in the future.

How can creating a coaching culture support your business now, in this challenging period and into the future?

Awakening Excellence has conducted several surveys on people’s working experience during lockdown and Covid-19, and the key challenges highlighted were:

  1. Not having contact with the line manager. Managing performance, sharing knowledge and information, and discussing ideas is no longer as simple as it used to be. Businesses have to create a different set of rules for engaging with employees.

More frequent check-ins and dialogue to understand the employee’s situation in delivering on their objectives is required to keep high performers productive and those who are underperforming feeling supported and connected.

A coaching style of managing people starts from the manager letting go of the belief that he/she has all the experience and therefore all the answers. It requires a manager to trust, listen and empower his/her direct reports to find new ways of working to achieve their goals, moving away from telling to enquiring.

  • Inadequate resources have meant employees are expected to achieve the same results without the tools to do so. A quick audit of resources will help establish what is lacking and inhibiting work performance. Ask your employees to do a self-audit and provide you with realistic, feasible options on what would improve their workspace.
  • The financial impact on the business resulting in loss of jobs.

Having certainty is one of the fundamental needs of a human being (Cloe Madanes and Tony Robbins). If people are constantly fearing the loss of work and the impact it will have on their families, their work performance will be affected, innovation stifled and productivity stagnated.

Whether retrenchments are on the cards or not, be transparent with people. Most research say all that people want is to be informed – “tell us what is happening, don’t keep us in the dark” or else grapevine talk takes hold of the company and has disastrous consequences.

  • Balancing work and personal responsibilities

Managers think that people work less when at home and people are saying they work harder. There are no boundaries on work or personal time. “My manager sends me emails at 2am”, and “It’s become a norm to work over weekends” are just some of the pain points we have heard from employees across organisations.

The work situation has changed with extra demands from family, shared workspaces, closing of schools and creches, which the manager has to be cognisant off. Conversations around best times to work and switching off from work to avoid burnout and stress are vital. Create a culture where time watching is not the focus, but an appreciation for high-quality output is.

  • Psychosocial impact

The pandemic and lockdown have brought to fore the inequalities and social issues faced in our country. Gender based violence, inequalities in living standards, and lack of access to resources are just a few of the very serious challenges that we currently face as a country.

In addition, feelings of loneliness, depression and isolation have intensified our need to connect with another. Peer coaching is a valuable approach to connect people, which entails pairing an individual with a buddy who is available to talk through work or personal issues. Someone who can listen and create the space for thinking is an invaluable gift for employees.

It is this very time that working closely with people, developing, supporting and engaging with them, making them feel valued and part of the solution to take the business forward, will be the deciding factor between merely surviving as an organisation and thriving as a productive and profitable business.

Transition back into the workspace with a coaching culture. Reach out to me on for a guided approach to creating a coaching culture in your organisation.

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