Whenever people talk about coaching, the first thing that comes to their mind is one of those very senior leaders, or even C-suite leaders, receiving personalised one-on-one development opportunities. I bet no one ever thought about “Ah, why don’t we offer this opportunity to one of our newly promoted manager? She must be having a tough time transitioning into her new position!”
Why am I even writing about this to start with? As a millennial, I have been lucky enough to be coached by some of the best coaches in town (If you are reading this, Thank you!). I have gone through a rough yet inspiring journey, and grown tremendously. Coaching has fast tracked my development multiple fold. Without it, I would not have been where I am right now.
So, now you might be thinking, why coach millennials? First, according to a global survey conducted at SuccessFactors: we, millennials, want coaching. We crave feedback, we want to develop, we want to make an impact, we enjoy challenges. A lot of us may not know what coaching is, yet most are able to articulate the desire to be coached. We millennials will be filling three quarter of the global workforce by 2025. As a passionate Occupational Psychologist and consultant, I believe that organisations should start to develop their future talent as early as possible. Some of us will actually be your future GMs and CEOs, so prepare us for those challenges!
The more I am involved in this field, the more I notice a pattern: companies tend to put more resources in the middle and senior levels compared to the lower levels. Fair enough. These leaders make the biggest impact and they need to be supported and developed. But imagine transferring the resources invested in only one GM onto your future talents? You will be able to develop five or ten future leaders in your organisation! According to Gallup, millennials are the LEAST engaged generation at work. Is this enough for you to start thinking about engaging millennials?
Why coaching but not training? Yes, they are both talent development initiatives. Training is focused on the skills level with a one-to-many approach, whereas coaching focuses on something that training may not be able address with a one-to-one approach – the very personal touch. In fact, coaching can be used together with training programmes to consolidate and enhance the learning. The benefit? I mean, who doesn’t want some personalised treatment?
Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying we, millennials, deserve coaching more than the senior executives. All I am saying is, not only coaching us is an investment in your organisation’s future. It is also a strategy in engaging and retaining us in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world of work. And we don’t need much – a few sessions are enough to do the magic, compared to a long coaching assignment for your senior executive. As a consultant, I have seen the powerful impact of only a few coaching sessions on young talents. It’s heart-warming to see more and more companies who are willing to invest in their younger talents, albeit a handful of them.
I would like to call for the attention of all learning and development practitioners or in-house talent management experts – it is time to start investing in coaching millennials! There are a variety of methods to “offer coaching”:
1. Individual one-on-one coaching sessions – duh, yes. I would recommend starting with your high-potentials. There are a lot of great and younger coaches out there who are seeking coaching hours. They are much more affordable and willing to engage in projects that could build their coaching experience.
2. Assessment debriefing – if psychometric assessments are involved in the recruitment process, providing coaching feedback will be an easy start and may make a huge difference for your new hires. Millennials want to learn more about themselves!
3. Develop internal coaches – this is one of the longer-term strategies. Are there any regular one-on-one conversations between a HR (or learning and development) person and your employee? If so, sending the person in charge to a coaching training would be a great way to start. If not, why not start doing this? However, be careful not to confuse a coach with a mentor though – they are very different. The main difference between a coach and a mentor is experience – mentor shares it, and a coach rarely shares any, and does not need it to coach.
4. Creating a coaching culture – this is definitely the most difficult way. If you have a coaching culture in your company, congratulations. If not, then you have a lot of work to do – assuming that’s what you would like to pursue. By having internal coaches and training your leaders as coaches, coaching will be available to everyone at any time. The downside is, it may take time and resources. However, it will definitely be worth it, and I am speaking from a first-hand experience of working in a company with coaching culture!
To conclude, from a millennial employee’s perspective, coaching is the best gift you can receive yet for continuous development. From an Occupational Psychologist and consultant perspective, coaching is one great way to engage and retain your future talents. Start hunting for coaches now!