Executive coaching part of changing nature of workplace
Training: Top-down management style don’t give employees support they need, says firm’s president
Published Saturday March 1st, 2008
Appeared on page E1
Building a culture of coaching can help employees and managers become more fulfilled and productive, says executive coach David Veale.
Coaching, he says, is part of the changing nature of the workplace.
“People have different expectations of their work environment now,” says Veale, president of Saint John-based Vision Coaching Inc. “They’re looking for creativity, they’re looking to be challenged, they’re looking for life balance, as well, and a coach takes a holistic approach to that.”
Veale says many executives and employees are discovering that old-fashioned, top-down management techniques don’t give them the support that a coaching relationship can provide.
The key to coaching is helping people develop their own solutions to the problems they are facing, says Veale.
“You’re using a process of inquiring, questions to bring the answers out in people,” he says. “What you’re trying to do is create new ways of thinking.”
Once clients have discovered new ways to tackle their problems, the coaching relationship shifts from inquiring about solutions to figuring out how clients can implement their ideas, says Veale.
“You are supporting them by saying ‘okay, what exactly are you going to do, how is going to happen, when are you going to do it, what are the barriers?'” says Veale. “You’re helping people walk through the challenges that occur in their careers and may kind of stunt their growth.”
Veale says there a difference between coaching and consulting.
He points to the example of some of his clients who are lawyers.
“I’m not a lawyer ,so I can’t give them any advice, what do I know about law?”
“But I can ask them questions. I can put them into a process where they start thinking differently about their firm.”
Veale says it’s easy to spot a culture of coaching in a company.
“You walk in and there is a positive energy. People feel very supported. You feel that people are looking out for you. It’s a safe place to express how you are feeling,” he says.
“You are encouraged and challenged in ways that you wouldn’t have felt at other places. In other words, there’s this idea that you are unleashed, that you’re not micromanaged.”
Veale says it takes leadership to build a strong coaching culture in a firm.
“It takes a pretty comprehensive approach. Ideally it starts with really strong leadership and people that are willing to flatten the hierarchy,” he says.
“It starts with people being open to communicating in new ways where people are asking a lot of questions and you are really listening.”
Veale has been running Vision Coaching Inc. for close to three years and has turned to technology to help him expand his business and support his coaching clients.
Using software created by Saint John-based Evolving Solutions, a web-development and social-media company, Veale has a new tool for secure and private communication with his clients.
Called Coach Gateway, the site includes a private messaging system as well as document sharing and goal tracking.
“People can be inundated with information. What we’re doing is setting up a place that is password-protected that is just focused on your development as a leader,” he says.
The software, says Veale, supports his efforts in building coaching cultures in companies.
“It’s a place where you’re putting your goals and your actions up with timelines. So it’s this place where you can also look back after a number of months of being coached and can say ‘wow, look what happen, look what I’ve accomplished.'”
The website can also help Veale show companies the return on their coaching investment.
“It’s for the individual to see the success and it’s also a way for the individual to report back to the organization,” he says.
Chris Nadeau, president of Evolving Solutions, is also one of Veale’s clients.
Nadeau says Veale came to Evolving Solutions with his idea for the coaching site.
“It definitely helps,” says Nadeau of the software.
Before the software was developed, it was more difficult to co-ordinate client-coach information, he says.
“Everything seemed to be an e-mail here, a voice mail there, a document here,” he says. “There was no real consistent place to access the information. But this lets you do that now and it’s a great way to see how you’re making out with your coaching.”
One interesting aspect of the software is that Veale is now marketing the software to other coaches, says Nadeau.
“He’s taken it and turned it into a product that other coaches can “¦ make it their own and use it as their own coaching platform,” says Nadeau.
Veale says he’s excited about the future of Coach’s Gateway.
“This coaching movement is pretty big and it’s pretty early so there seems like there’s a nice opportunity to get a tool out to other coaches.”