Recently, I was speaking with a group of professionals. One of them asked what skill-set was required within business analysis. My response was, many skills are required. Business analysis requires one of the most rounded, professional skill-sets. Being a business analyst is not just about knowing business analysis, project management, and process modeling; it’s about developing your leadership skills. One of the leadership skills that will work in your favor is coaching. Here are five reasons why developing your coaching skills is so important.
Employees Expect It
I can hear what you are saying right now: “No one reports to me; I have no employees.” As a business analyst, you have to think beyond the employee/manager relationship of the traditional business environment. We have shifted to a professional world where employees expect to be coached and mentored. People are looking for partners that understand that part of relationship-building is to focus on the growth and development of others. Therefore the professional needs to embrace that and work with others as if they are their employees.
New Employees Need It
When someone new joins your team or the team of the stakeholder you serve, you have an opportunity to coach and mentor them. So, you establish a positive relationship fast. Besides, new employees don’t have some of the basic skills that are needed to survive in the workplace. Some years ago, I worked for a company that expected me to use a specific system to monitor escalated events. I went to a meeting one day, and someone asked me about how I had been handling the issues within the event system. I had no idea what they were talking about. They explained that there was a system that should be monitored every day. This conversation occurred three months after I had started working in the company. It would have been useful if the person responsible for the system had coached and mentored me on the system use and protocols. Maybe you use a system or support a system that someone new has to use. It might be a good idea to help them out.
More Seasoned Employees Require It
These people might think they know it all. In reality, these people often need help to adapt to changing conditions in their workplace. In this case, coaching is focused on mastering increasingly complex and diverse tasks, and activities often brought on by the rapid changes in technology. There also might be an aspect of coaching to increase responsibility and autonomy in the professional environment. I recall a time when there were many staff changeovers in a client organization. Mostly the middle and senior management lost their administrative assistant. At the time, it was no big deal to me as I was tech savvy, but for the all thumbs professional for whom other people did stuff, it was a real challenge. Losing resources was a change that shocked a lot of people. Suddenly, autonomy and self-directed teams became important. Today you are expected to be self-reliant, independent and able to handle autonomy. But within business analysis, you have to coach and mentor the more mature workers in adapting to change and developing these skills sets.
Organizations Use It
Everyone wants better results, a return on their investment. Added value can be defined beyond the monetary. As a business analyst, you need to think beyond the “me” and “us.” It is part of the alignment between individuals, teams and the organization. I once was having a coffee with two of my peers, and one of them said, “The three of us; we know more about what was going on in the organization than anybody.” He was correct. Not because we were special. As senior strategic business analysts, we had a combined stakeholder portfolio that cut across the organization and penetrated every aspect of the business.
Our initiatives and the decisions we made, created ripples throughout the organization. We all understood that we needed to forge a more cohesive and effective stakeholder engagement to ensure the organization achieved its objectives. That meant coaching and mentoring our leaders, and assisting people in bettering their performance; in making better, more informed decisions.
Leaders Benefit from It
I often think that I am a better man because I had kids. Not because I ruled with an iron fist but because I had to learn a set of skills that are not innate. I learned as much from my kids as they learned from me. In other words, sometimes my kids were the coach and mentor. This situation is similar to the practice of business analysis. Your manager, team leader, director, and executive do not know it all. Sometimes it is all about reverse coaching - where you end up coaching the person you are reporting too. I have worked with a lot of executives, and there have been many occasions when I applied simple coaching models when working with executives to build their skills, capabilities and decision-making abilities. There are times, through coaching, when leaders learn more from their employees than employees learn from their leaders. And that is all right.
It is a mistake to think that as a business analyst or project manager you are not a coach or mentor. Coaching and mentorship are not some private domain of management and the executive. Organizations and professionals who think that way will struggle to survive the next wave of changes that are going to hit the economy. Especially organizations that exist in traditional thinking economic and community sections. They are in for a huge shock. The professional who is balanced between the hard and soft skills, tech-savvy and wired will reign in the next economy. They will use their coaching and mentorship abilities to develop other people, their stakeholders around them. Good luck.
Remember, do your best, invest in the success of others and make your journey count.