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IMPERATIVES OF HIGHER PERFORMANCE COACHING IN LAGOS PUBLIC SERVICE

Dr. Akintola, Benson Oke

 The ultimate goal of every organisation is to attain that optimal state of performance and effectiveness where its units and teams and departments are headed by persons who understand what leadership means and who have developed their leadership potentials and have enhanced their performance skills. It is only at such a point in time that organisations can experience exponential growth.

However, no matter how often or how seriously the importance of leadership skills is discussed, especially for pubic officers, the efforts would be meaningless and would amount to little except a clear path to acquiring the critical leadership skills is created and adopted. Once this is done, mostly through coaching, no problem will be too complicated, no task too herculean, no challenge too huge, and no task too complicated to be confronted head-on.

It is in view of this that the vision of Lagos State Government, under the leadership of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, for the State Public Service is for government to invest in every public officer by designing and delivering coaching instructions that would increase the knowledge and skills of every officer such that the multiplier effect on the public service would be dynamism, responsiveness, effectiveness, machine-like precision, and exponential productivity.

It is instructive to draw attention to the general benefits of coaching as identified by top human resources and productivity practitioners. The Institute of Coaching has identified both personal and organizational benefits of coaching. This suggests, for instance, that when effectively coached, officers of the Lagos State Public Service stand to benefit as individuals and the Public Service also stands to benefit as an organisation.

According to the Institute, the personal benefits of coaching are as wide-ranging as the individuals involved. Numerous clients report that coaching positively impacted their careers as well as their lives by helping them to establish and take action towards achieving goals, become more self-reliant, gain more job and life satisfaction, contribute more effectively to the team and the organization, take greater responsibility and accountability for actions and commitments, work more easily and productively with others (boss, direct reports, peers) and communicate more effectively.

Coaching in organization and leadership settings is also an invaluable tool for developing people across a wide range of needs. The benefits of coaching are many; 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence, and over 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. 86% of companies report that they recouped their investment on coaching and more.

Furthermore, coaching provides an invaluable space for personal development. For example, managers are frequently presented with employees struggling with low confidence. The traditional approach would be to send them to an assertiveness course and hope this addresses the issue. In the short-term, the employee learns new strategies for communicating which may improve confidence. Unfortunately, in isolation these courses rarely produce a sustained increase in confidence. Although external behaviour may change; it needs to be supported by changes in their internal thought processes. This is often where coaching is most effective.

Indeed, superiors have been advised not to underestimate the impact of coaching on their people as it frequently creates a fundamental shift in their approach to their work. For example, increased self-confidence enables employees to bring more of themselves into the workplace. This results in employees being more resilient and assertive.

In terms of benefits for an organisation such as the Lagos State Public Service coaching empowers individuals and encourages them to take responsibility, increases employee and staff engagement, improves individual performance, helps identify and develop high potential employees, helps identify both organizational and individual strengths and development opportunities, helps to motivate and empower individuals to excel and demonstrates organizational commitment to human resource development.

Consequently, the Lagos State government places high premium on regularly organizing strategic coaching sessions for its workforce, especially those that frequently have interface with the public as well as those that provide essential services. The intention is to ensure that they become impactful, influential and productive to such degrees that the output of the Public Service will engender greater productivity and prosperity for the society.

Additionally, the intent of the Lagos State is to achieve is a Public Service where every officer is able and empowered to set a clear vision regarding his/her duties and effectively communicate it to colleagues, providing them with a clear understanding of the desired direction, understands that effective planning is important when it comes to meeting organizational goals, able to provide stability, inspiration, courage and direction during times of crisis and when dealing with relationships between co-workers, aims at improving employee relations and more closely aligning the team and individual objectives.  Any organization where all these are attainable would, no doubt, enjoy steady growth and enhanced output.

It is in view of the foregoing that the Lagos State Civil Service has always been in the forefront of innovation and dynamic effectiveness in the nation and the Ambode administration is dedicated to the maintenance of this noble position in the country. It is for this reason, among others, that diverse trainings, workshops and seminars have been approved and organized for the benefits of the critical and invaluable human resources in charge of the institution of the Public Service. The overall goal is to build a crop of public officials who could efficiently assist the government in proffering possible solutions to complicated problems.

At present, the state government’s focus on training and re-training of its workforce is progressively bringing about results. Consequently, the vision of achieving a Lagos State that is managed by a dynamic and competent public service is progressively being attained. Thus, by and by, we are marching towards the realization of the state government’s vision for a Lagos State that can compete with the most admired global cities through prompt and effective service delivery.

This, indeed, is the real essence of the public service. This is what makes Lagos a model to others and this is a convention that the Ambode led government hopes to preserve and, indeed, exceed.

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