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Building Capability

How Formal and Informal Coaching Can Build Organisational Capability


Coaching is a form of development where a more experienced individual provides insight, guidance and advice to a less experienced employee. Where that comes into play with capability building programs is offering a sounding board and informed feedback for the employee being coached.

The benefits of formal and informal coaching in building organisational capability 

There are two main types of coaching worth implementing.

  1. Formal coaching involves the coach and coachee engaging in a structured relationship with dedicated learning outcomes. This type of coaching has a set period from beginning to end, with conversations and meetings usually occurring at scheduled times.  
  2. Informal coaching is less structured. It has no scheduled appointment times or specific start and end dates, instead occurring in everyday conversations or interactions. 

The most obvious advantages are experienced by the coachee. In picking the coach’s brain, they stand to gain decision-making independence, stronger communication and collaboration, and psychological safety. Down the road, this leads to increased productivity, satisfaction and performance of capabilities. All of which enables you to identify your HiPos (or high potential employees), creates networks between potentially siloed teams in your organisation and allows for broader business perspective.  

What challenges do you face when using coaching to build organisational capability? 

One challenge here is pairing the right roles and personalities. Coaching isn’t a natural fit for everyone, nor will every coach’s approach work for all coachees. For example: A coach simply telling their coachee what to do in the face of a problem rather than guiding them to a solution. Don’t skip performance expectations for both parties when implementing formal coaching practices. We also don’t recommend just relying on culture fit to nix this issue, either. You’ll have many shades of personality and ways of work that clash amongst your workforce.

Along the same lines, unclear goal posts will impede the impact of coaching. Particularly in formal coaching, there needs to be a clear milestones and an end goal that both parties are aware of. If that’s not defined and agreed upon at the outset of the relationship, it may breed discontent and sour a burgeoning relationship before it’s really had a chance to develop.

This is why we’ve created the first performance learning management system (PLMS) here at Acorn. It’s a dynamic AI-powered platform synchronising L&D experiences with business performance by serving up the right learning recipe for each employee’s betterment. A PLMS facilitates knowledge transfer between employees and fosters a learning-in-the-flow culture, which is necessary for coaching to work.

What are the impacts of not using coaching to build organisational capability? 

One particularly helpful benefit of coaching is contextualisation. Coaches can frame new concepts within the environment of your organisation. Consider how impactful that is for new leaders, who may be exploring complex business ideas or people management for the first time. On the flip side, if you stifle informal coaching, you may be stifling your employees’ initiative or willingness to seek development opportunities for themselves. That only hurts knowledge transfer in the workplace and your overall learning culture.  

Your capabilities don’t exist in a vacuum, so static descriptions won’t necessarily help employees perform them effectively. A little guidance goes a long way to ensuring capabilities are being developed in line with your strategic needs.  

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