Why Development and Leadership Coaching Shouldn’t Stop in a Recession

by | Culture & Financial Results

It may seem counterintuitive to invest in coaching skills training when times are tight, but there are excellent reasons to focus on people leaders when a recession looms.

Why? People are the heart of your company culture, and your leaders hold your organization together. You’ve invested in their skills and knowledge, and you’ve built something valuable together.

You can protect that investment by creating a coaching culture in your workplace to boost engagement and limit attrition, even during difficult times. That way, your organization will be poised for success when things rebound (as they always do!) instead of scrambling to make up time.

When your leaders have the skills to inspire, connect with, and bring out the best from each employee, they strengthen your entire team’s commitment to the company, boost productivity, and increase your organizational resilience.

Here’s why developing coach-like leaders is critical in a tough economy and how enhancing these skills in your people leaders will position your company for success.

Double down on development and leadership coaching in a recession to engage and retain talent

Too often, organizations focus on the short-term or immediate needs of the company, hoping just to hold course through a downturn. Neglecting your most important resources is a mistake, as the ground you lose now could be very difficult to make up later.

The good news? It might be more affordable than you think. Your employees may not need financial incentives to stay with you through a tumultuous economic climate. Instead, they may simply need to feel seen and appreciated. Employees are craving a sense of purpose, connection with their team members, and feeling valued, according to McKinsey.

Let’s look at the role of leadership in employee retention and how it affects your bottom line. The cost of replacing an experienced employee is staggeringly high, ranging from half to twice their annual salary, reports benefits website Simply Benefits.

Multiply that by a handful of high performers, and you’ll be in an expensive situation when it comes time to replace them all. Not to mention how long it will take you to build those relationships and rebuild the culture in your organization.

Developing coach-like leaders on your team can protect your company from losing its best people by encouraging personal connection and regular check-ins. Done well, one-to-one meetings with managers during uncertain times lead to a 430% increase in the probability an employee will be engaged, according to the 2020 Global Culture Report from workplace culture O.C.Tanner.

Uncertainty can drive companies to be cautious, but a recession isn’t the time to stop investing in people. On the contrary, retaining existing teams will save you money and position you for a strong rebound when the economy begins recovering.

Leaders with coaching skills can keep your culture intact during a recession

Leaders have already been supporting their teams through difficult times. Many actively want training to help make their jobs easier and more rewarding. The good news? Those that get it are likely to stay.

What’s more, this investment doesn’t stay with the leaders. Instead, they turn around and give back to your entire team, boosting retention and protecting you against culture challenges in the workplace.

“High-performing leaders create highly participatory teams,” according to Korn Ferry, boosting your organization’s ability to stay ahead of competitors during a recession. Coach-like leaders have the confidence and skills to empower employees and keep them engaged at work, even in challenging economic times.

Remember that workplace culture is often the most prominent attraction when you need to grow your team. When the economy begins to recover and you’re ready to hire, potential employees will research your company, explore online reviews, and talk with your current team members.

Keeping your culture intact helps preserve what you’ve built so that you’re ready to come back stronger as the economy begins to recover. You’ll be ahead of organizations needing to rehire teams, rebuild culture, and train from scratch.

Skilled leaders equal increased resilience in tough times

A recession is challenging for even the most seasoned leaders on your team, which makes them vital to your ability to navigate what’s ahead. They’ll need to be ready to shift priorities and identify opportunities to increase resilience across your organization.

Most importantly, they will guide your team through a turbulent time in hopes that you all come out on the other side ready to take advantage of better economic conditions. The role of leadership in employee retention cannot be overstated—your leaders keep your team intact when it matters most.

Creating an engaging, rewarding, and attractive work environment isn’t easy, but it’s crucial to keeping your company healthy. And in return, higher organizational wellbeing aligns with lower levels of employee burnout and stress, according to Gallup, which also emphasizes that “wellbeing is a leadership issue.”

Let’s have a look at the top skills your leaders will need to get you through a recession:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Change management and implementation
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Resilience
  • Coaching

Why are coaching skills so necessary? A Harvard Business Review research concludes that coaching boosts productivity by 44%, while Zenger Folkman studies indicate that employees reporting to the effective coach-like leaders are 38% less likely to think of quitting than those employees reporting to managers they feel are not good coaches.

Development and leadership coaching matters more now than ever. More coach-like leaders will nurture a strong coaching culture, creating a better environment and more positive results overall.

3 ways to develop leadership and coaching skills in your organization

Leadership skills go far beyond simply directing what gets done during a workday or how. When you equip your people leaders with coaching skills, you give them the potential skills to unlock contributions from every team member.

Of course, there are strategic ways to level up this capacity in your leadership team. You’ll want to make a wise investment in coaching skills training, so looking for cost-effective methods for as many people as possible to benefit is key. (I can help!)

How to develop the coach-like leaders you need to position your organization for success:

1. Focus on impact

Assess areas for growth that have the most significant impact on leaders and the organization. When times are tight, you’ll want to make smart choices that offer you the greatest return on your investment. When your leaders strengthen their coaching skills, they create a positive impact throughout your entire team–this offers big ROI when your company needs it most.Look for ways to develop more than just the top handful of leaders on your team to ensure you reap as much benefit as possible.

2. Be willing to invest

You can be cost-conscious while also recognizing the benefit of scalable solutions that are worthwhile investments in your team. Executive and leadership coaching is good, but developing leaders who will coach your team to greatness is even better. Don’t forget that learning should happen within your organization and externally. Ensure your employees have access to a professional development fund that allows them to take courses at educational institutions or training centres of their choosing.

3. Provide high-quality resources

Look for gaps in coaching skills knowledge preventing your employees from moving up, and bring in experts to train new skills. This is a proactive step that increases your team’s capabilities and the loyalty of each team member. When employees know they have your support to develop their capabilities, they’ll likely stay with you even through tough economic times.

Why you can’t delay developing your leaders

Waiting could mean losing employees, and every loss hurts your bottom line (and if they go to a competitor, you’re now up against your best talent in a tough economy). If you lose too many employees, you risk company performance and culture challenges in the workplace that will be difficult to repair.

The benefits that come from development and leadership coaching are exponential. First, you’ll hold onto your best leaders (who want this investment and to develop their skills), and they’ll help retain your entire team.

Even better, the tangible results from leadership development can ensure your organization is performing to its highest potential and is ready for the inevitable rebound.

It’s time to act quickly. Doubling down on development of coach-like leaders during a recession can help you engage and retain talent, keep your culture intact, and increase resilience in your organization.

Want to learn how developing coach-like leaders can help protect your organization through the upcoming recession? BOOK A DISCOVERY CALL WITH ME today.


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