In times of turbulence and belt-tightening, it is instinctive to aim to cut costs and make efficiencies. Rightly or wrongly, career development conversations and training budgets tend to take a real hit.
In this article I want to explain why developing your internal career coaching capability may be the best investment you could make in troubled times and share with you how to build a strong business case for doing so.
My father is a jeweller. He specializes in selling unique and beautiful antique jewellery. During the last recession, he told me:
“Erica, both of us are in the luxury business. When things get difficult, no one buys jewellery or training programmes, they focus on keeping the lights on and paying the wage bill.”
Let’s imagine that, for one reason or another, your organization is in the midst of change.
There’s going to be a merger and a re-org. There have been cuts in funding and headcount. There’s a transformation programme underway that will have a real and lasting impact on your population.
In this environment, the sensible thing to do seems to be to batten down the hatches. Cut costs as much as possible, force the justification of every invoice and every spend.
To my father’s point, there doesn’t seem to be the space or the budget to invest in further training for staff, when we don’t know what the organization will look and feel like in the new world and we aren’t even sure which staff will still be in place once the re-organisation is complete.
I can completely understand that. You might feel reticent to say, “This is the time to invest in training our coaches”.
This message can feel awkward and out of touch with the current reality.
But presentation is everything.
What if I said to you, that by investing in your coaching education you could make a strategic intervention that could save the organisation millions? Would that be of interest? What about if we could improve employer brand during the transition and give your loyal staff real support, encouragement and help during this transition? What if investing in building capability was a true win/win?
Would that be of interest? If so, read on!
Gearing up for transformation
When we think about business transformation and redesign, we have a sense of lots of moving parts. Divisions and departments might be reshuffled, teams disbanded and created. Each individual in your organisation is going to feel the impact. They will be thinking about their career. They will be wondering if there is a place for them in the future and may be distracted and demoralized by the uncertainty triggered by the process of change.
Key talent become a flight risk.
As coaches and facilitators, we want to ensure that each person is able to make the right career decision for them and their future, whilst also making sure the organisation retains the right talent to keep doing great work.
Once the dust has settled, we are going to still need strong talent to play a part in the new structure. All too often, when we are in the midst of change, we forget that this is a temporary phase and at some point, in the future, we will settle into our new way of working. Career coaching helps ensure you have energized and committed people along for the ride.
To help your talent move swiftly through the change curve, it is important that they feel supported by quality career development conversations about their future. This is where expert career coaching can help.
Building the capability of your coaches to help people reflect on their career and devise career plans is not a luxury item. It is a practical necessity.
Career coaching is a key engagement tool, engendering loyalty and participation at all levels in an organisation. Career coaching can help each employee to make the right choice for them, navigating more the change and the new opportunities in a more skilful way. Depending on your agenda, in-house career coaching can help to:
★Reduce redundancy or voluntary severance by helping people make pro-active choices about their career
★Retain and engage your best people by helping them to see a future in your organisation
★Enable each individual to focus and feel empowered so that they can stay productive during uncertain times
★Reduce the cost of outplacement services by building capability within
★Develop a valuable community of in-house experts that drive internal mobility
A number of our clients have seen investment in our career coaching qualification as a key pillar in their people strategy and a key to the success of their transformation process.
During change, it is important that individuals continue to feel invested in. It is important that they have a place to voice their fears and concerns and a chance to connect with a sounding board in order to make the right choice for them and their families. In-house capacity building can help deliver the people aspect of transformation in a powerful and impactful way.
So if you would like to make a business case for further career coaching education for your coaching pool but are feeling shy about requesting funds in an austere time, here are your three key ‘lines to take’.
There is a budget set aside to ensure a successful transformation
Career coaching is integral to the strategy for achieving this transformation. It is fundamental to our post-transformation success that the right talent is retained. We must prevent brain drain. Career coaching will help us do that by keeping our best people engaged.
Offering in-house coaching support will drive better employee engagement, raise our level of loyalty and performance and enhance our employer brand. It is a way for us to stay close to our key talent and enhance our succession planning.
In an environment in which people feel disempowered because they are not in control of the pace of change, career coaching keeps the individuals energized and empowered. This reduces the risk of burnout, sickness absence and unplanned departures. It’s a really cost-effective way to reduce the expense associated with finding, recruiting, inducting and training new people.
Change is inevitable and the pace of it is speeding up across all sectors. In a volatile environment, leading through change requires keeping our people close and bringing them along with us. Individualised, in-house attention can be strategically deployed so that the best and the brightest continue to be inspired to work in our public, private and third sector.
Erica Sosna’s Career Matters empowers employees to have the right career conversations at the right time. Erica’s 3-day accreditation equips internal coaches to manage and maximize the impact of these career development conversations at times of career transition and change.
The first ICF accredited coaching programme took place in Dorchester and it was a smashing success. These are small events designed for 6-8 participants so that everybody can take out the most of this experience. We are now planning our next workshops in London.