Why HR Should Really Learn to Coach

Why HR Should Really Learn to Coach

Who better to be that coach than HR?

Key Takeaway

In supporting and training people within an organisation, HR is well placed to add further value through coaching.

Doesn’t Human Resources have quite enough to do already, without my adding one more thing to their already heavy workload?

Building that core competency

Well, let me argue in favour of just one more thing. And actually, I would suggest that this “one more thing” ought to be HR’s One Big Thing.


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In a Harvard Business Review piece, titled, “Why HR Really Does Add Value,” Rubbermaid CEO Brian Hults had this to say about HR:

“In order to add significant value to a business, HR must be able to support and enable the execution of strategy through building organisational capability. This is a role that cannot be automated, shared as a service, offshored or outsourced. It comes from an intimate knowledge of a business’s strategy and the existing capabilities of the organisation. The great advantage that HR has in this area is that, ultimately, all strategy is executed by people – people who need to be supported, trained and equipped to fulfill the strategic vision. This is the real role of HR.”

So in his view, the real value-adding role of HR is to support, train and equip the people who do the work in the organisation. When HR does this, it supports and enables the execution of the business strategy.

What this amounts to is a culture change in the direction of coaching.

Though Hults does not say it quite this directly, to me it seems that, the critical core competency of HR therefore ought to be coaching.

Coaching = “the process of directing, instructing and training a person or group of people, with the aim to achieve some goal.”

What does a highly effective coach do?

Let’s look at a team in sports. It could be a soccer team, a basketball team, a baseball team or any other sport you like. Take your pick.

An effective coach supports the team – Every team needs support. This support takes many forms, from information and tools, to encouragement, recognition and leadership.

An effective coach trains the team – Every team needs skills. Some of the skills are task related such as passing the ball and running specific plays; some are relationship related such as communication, cooperation, conflict resolution and customer service.

An effective coach equips and enables the team – Every team needs to be properly equipped (e.g. helmets, pads, cleats), and properly aligned and motivated. The latter are attained via clear goals, a strong mission, a set of guiding values and a compelling vision.

When a coach attends to these basic needs of their team, and works hard with each player to bring out their very best, what do you get? A winning team.

Now let’s return to a business organisation. Lift the hood on any organisation and what do you see inside? People working in teams that are interacting with each other to produce some service or product for a customer.

In most organisations, how effective is the teamwork? If we are brutally honest, it could use some help. In today’s over-worked organisations, teams are under a lot of pressure. And the cracks will start to show. The rising levels of workplace stress alone should be setting off alarm bells in HR offices around the world.

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Accelerate Nov 2015As featured in the November 2015 issue of Accelerate Magazine. This article is locked for further viewing. Please consider subscribing to Accelerate to view this and many more great articles.

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