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Career Management Coaching Recognises Both Engagement and Enablement

by Geoff Officer, Managing Director The Donington Group, CPI – Sydney, Australia

In recent times many organisations lack the resources and the funding that were available in the boom times. They are now compelled to focus on performance. This usually means that they are required to nurture and promote the customer relationships that sustain them. What this means in practice is that organisations today work hard to develop empowered and motivated employees.

Over the last few years the link between employee engagement and performance has been well proven. One such study in 2010, by the Hay Group, has demonstrated that with people prepared to “go the extra mile”, organisations can achieve revenue growth 2.5 times that of their peers and cut staff turnover by up to 40 per cent. This research also demonstrated that while nine out of ten employees say they are committed to success, less than two thirds believe that they are as productive as they could be.

The Hay Group study highlighted that the missing piece is “enablement”. Enablement is summed up by the phrase “help me to help you”. When people are both engaged and enabled, the performance of the organisation increases dramatically.

Engagement and enablement can be a challenge for leadership who are often distracted by the demands that ensuring organisational success places upon them in challenging economic circumstances. Financial and shareholder returns can often take precedence over employee development and engagement, especially in tough times, yet the successful organisation thrives on high customer satisfaction driven by high employee engagement and organisational leaders know that there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and the organisation’s bottom line.

Improving employee engagement is challenging. Some of the strategies employed by today’s organisations to improve employee engagement are involving employees in decision making, seeking their views and valuing their contribution, and looking after employee health and wellbeing. Of considerable significance in driving employee enablement is the opportunities given to employees to develop their jobs and develop their careers. As the Hay Group research concluded “employees need to be able to channel their enthusiasm into productive and satisfying action: put into roles that leverage their skills, and given the tools and the freedom to be effective.” (Hay Group, page 6)

Career management interventions and coaching strategies aim to ensure that employees are not only engaged but are also enabled. Career management is not just about clarifying goals and ensuring that career decisions are based on individual motivations and drivers. At the heart of the career management coaching experience is the understanding that individual performance and excellence is driven by motivational “synchronicity”, the alignment of individual career goals and motivations with organisational values and strategies. When an individual’s motivations are clearly driving the career decision, the individual is more clearly aligned to giving their best. When that individual motivation is aligned to organisation vision and values, then individual enablement is assured.

The challenge for the individual is finding an organisational cultural environment that enables individual career motivations to achieve their maximum potential within the organisation. The challenge for the organisation is ensuring that the career culture continues to reflect the values and drivers that attracted an individual when they were first hired. If that organisational culture changes significantly, either through leadership decision making or through organisational change in direction and strategy, then there is always the danger that productive and successful individuals will become disenfranchised or disillusioned. The successful career management coaching intervention can often be a critical turning point for both the career of the individual and for the organisation. Leadership’s ability to recognise those turning points in the life of their high potentials and “critical role” employees is a fundamental skill required for today’s organisational success. Career Management coaching is not just a luxury afforded to an individual at a time of decision making or personal crossroad. It can be for the organisation a significant opportunity to ensure critical alignment and focus for those employees who are at the heart of organisational success and enablement.

As the Hay Group study pointed out: “people must feel enthusiastic, enabled and have a sense of identity and destiny with the firm” (page 12) At the heart of any career management coaching intervention is the creation of that enthusiasm, enablement and sense of identity that ensures that the performance dividend will increase dramatically.

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