How to Reduce Reactive Coaching

Today’s brutal business reality is that the pace is faster than ever, leadership is more complex and the pressures for today’s mid-level and senior leaders are mounting. It’s little wonder in the double whammy environment of a VUCA and pandemic world, leaders and teams are facing higher stress levels, anxiety, overwhelming uncertainty and potentially burnout, just when you need them the most.


According to a study by Deloitte, 86% of senior executives felt that there was an urgent need to build leadership capability, yet only 13% said they do an excellent job developing leaders at all levels. And, here’s an abysmal number — only 8% believe they have “excellent” programs to build global skills and experiences. With leadership development being a $170 billion industry, the gap between investment and outcomes is vast and perilous.


Traditional leadership development approaches, like one-to-one coaching or day-long off-sites, simply aren’t working. The result? Organizations continue to shell out money for reactive coaching to try to fix the issues and change behaviours that hold back high potentials and leaders.


The reason these approaches fall short is that too many organizations continue to focus on leadership development as a “training event” versus a “ongoing journey.” However, it’s a journey that is required in order for leaders to develop and retain the soft skill behaviours required to manage the ongoing complexities of today’s workplaces. That’s where group coaching can help learning to stick, and reduce reactive coaching costs.


Building Collective Capability


Typically, reactive coaching is done on a one-on-one basis to help the leader change behaviours and quickly get the skills they need to excel in their position. Group coaching is a better solution than individual coaching in certain situations.


1.) To Amplify Coaching Benefits

If one person is struggling, it’s likely that many more are struggling as well. With individual coaching you help one person, with group coaching, you can help many. You also create ongoing support systems within the organization. Here’s a recent example, I have a group of young leaders who have kids between the ages of 2 and 10. The group coaching environment became a support system for them when navigating working from home during the pandemic, allowing them to share solutions to work more effectively and balance home and work.


2.) To Provide Deeper, Richer Context

When it comes to helping leaders build new behaviours, all coaches have a very limited view. They work together in a closed office or via Zoom, without context into how the person interacts with others – their peers and reports. The people you work with have a much bigger impact on a leader’s ability to sustain new behaviours, as it builds in accountability.


Group coaching also gives leaders the unique ability to adapt their learning into the context of the organization and the challenges they’re facing. Not only will leaders share ideas and strategies, but it comes from a from a place of understanding about the culture, values and mission of the business—something that an isolated classroom or external coach cannot do.


3.) To Improve Coaching Retention

With one-to-one coaching, there is a risk that the coach inadvertently creates division between the person being coached and the organization. If a leader complains about the organization to a coach, the tendency is to sympathize with the leader, as this is the only reality the coach knows. In group coaching, a coach is exposed to a broader view of the organization, as is the leader participants. This increases the likelihood of retention of coachees and the overall perspective of the coach.


Reducing Reactive Coaching at PepsiCo


As a result of a restructuring of three divisions into two, there were multiple points of transitions for the mid-level leaders from some stepping into new roles, others facing new scope in their existing role, and others transferring to new cities. PepsiCo had to quickly accelerate the career paths of many of its high potential leaders, yet they were worried about the possibility of reactive coaching if these new leaders derailed.


The Roundtable was brought in to run group coaching programs. An internal post-program survey revealed that the people who completed the program (compared to a control group):

  • Saved an estimated $1 million+ in turnover
  • Prevented an estimated $200,000 in reactive coaching
  • Sustained an 89% promotability rate


Curious how we did it? Get the case study here.