It's no secret that high performers of all stripes swear by coaching. Everyone from Google's founders to the rock band Metallica credit coaches with getting them where they are today (or keeping them there). But there are several factors holding back leaders slightly lower down the ladder from engaging the services of a coach.

First, of course, is the cost. The best coaches in the business can run you thousands of dollars an hour, which is a little rich for most organizations. Second is a false sense that leadership means shouldering the weight of the world on your own. Finally, the uneven quality of coaching is a big obstacle. Top-rate coaches can be transformational. Many lesser ones just peddle self-help platitudes.

For all these reasons, coaching has largely remained the province of only the top echelons of business. Alexi Robichaux, CEO and co-founder of BetterUp, wants to change that. His startup is aiming to bring coaching to the masses via technology. The company handpicks credentialed coaches, trains them in its science-backed method, and then offers them up for remote sessions with what it terms "emerging leaders" at a fraction of the cost of traditional coaching.

"Elite performers across the spectrum all have access to coaching. For them it's almost ridiculous that they could do their job without it. The vision of BetterUp is to provide that same level of transformational intervention to professionals of all levels," he told me when I spoke with him recently.

I thought some of my readers might be skeptical that offering coaching to all your up-and-coming talent in this way would be practical (or effective), so I challenged Robichaux to prove that coaching can benefit leaders at every level of the organization. Here's what he came up with in his own words:

1. Coaching helps with employee engagement and happiness.

According to a 2015 Gallup poll, "managers account for up to 70 percent of variance in engagement." More, one-in-two employees have "left their job to get away from their manager." Great managers encourage employee engagement and coaching is proven to improve managerial skills including communication, trust building, problem solving, and feedback -- all of which help improve retention rates.

2. Coaching improves your bottom line.

A 2012 report from McKinsey found that organizations with highly engaged employees are "60 percent more likely to be in the top quartile for overall business health."

3. Coaching increases the skills to inspire.

Bain & Company partner Mark Horwitch and senior manager in leadership Meredith Whipple write, "companies need inspirational leaders throughout the organization, not just in the traditional chain of command" and that these skills can and should be developed. In fact, their research shows that inspirational leadership has measurable positive impacts on employee productivity, commitment, satisfaction, and retention.

4. Coaching drives concrete performance gains.

Coaching is grounded in behavioral science and drives real behavioral change. According to the International Coach Federation, coaching improves work performance, team effectiveness, communication skills, time management skills, and more. And "the vast majority of companies (86 percent) say they at least made their investment [in coaching] back."

5. Coaching can be affordable.

The average executive coach can cost a company anywhere from $30-50,000 a year, making it a very exclusive benefit that leaves many talented individuals behind. [New approaches to coaching], such as BetterUp, open the door to help "high potential" employees at every level of the organization to benefit from sessions that develop leadership behaviors that stick.

6. People want to be coached, not managed.

Employees want to be heard, valued, and always be progressing; 22 percent of Millennials are seeking professional development more than any other workplace benefit. Coaching teaches managers the skills they need to support their employees and help them grow.

7. Coaching builds good culture.

Culture, at its core, is a way of behaving consistently. Coaching is a great way to actively shape and improve behaviors in your organization. By building a coaching culture in your company, you can actively support your employees to learn new skills and become the sorts of leaders you want in your organization for the long term.

Has Robichaux convinced you that coaching is a good idea for far less senior folks?

Published on: Mar 29, 2017