Good job, coach

Hands-on coaching—as well as a serious commitment to ongoing training is helping companies score well with their employees

Good job, coach

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Liana Carniello is the human resources manager at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto, the flagship hotel of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. (Canada), and she’s about to move up to director of human resources at a sister hotel. She credits her company’s mentorship program for helping her advance from the front office operations job she started in five years ago, and now she’s giving back. Today, she’s on the other side of the desk, mentoring a shy Filipina housekeeping attendant. When she’s not folding sheets and fluffing pillows in one of the hotels 1,400 rooms, her protege—who holds a master’s degree in statistics—is training for advancement. She hopes to take on a more challenging role at the company, either putting her math skills to work in a revenue management role, or taking on a leadership position in hotel operations. The pair is halfway through Starwood’s Associate Development Program, which matches line-level employees with management leaders to nurture their career goals. Carniello is inspired by her colleague’s ambition: “I told her, when I leave this property, I’m taking you with me.”

This hands-on coaching approach—as well as a serious commitment to ongoing training, be it through education subsidies and internal courses and programs—is helping companies score well with their employees when it comes to performance and development. “Historically, the mentor might have been lecturing or telling the employee what to do,” says Lindsay Sukornyk, an executive leadership coach with over a decade of experience consulting with top global enterprises. Sukornyk has noticed a shift to coaching in the last few years, which has empowered employees to take control of their careers. “I think of it as leadership 2.0,” says Sukornyk. “It’s more of a dialogue, more collaborative.”

At EllisDon, the Mississauga, Ont.-based and employee-owned construction firm, employees get a one-on-one career discussion at least once a year, outside of their performance reviews. And their bosses listen. “Over the last few years, we’ve been having discussions with our leaders about how to have effective career-based conversations,” says Janine Szczepanowski, vice-president of leadership and entrepreneurial development. “Last year, we extended that coaching to our employees as well.”

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