What is coaching all about?
Coaching is the process of systematically developing people at work. It involves turning work experienced problems into learning situations. These learning situations are developed in a planned way and the learning takes place under guidance by you or someone nominated by you with the agreement of the person being coached.
Being an effective coach is fundamental to the success experienced by any manager in handling relationships with colleagues and subordinates. Most of us coach informally some of the time without identifying that we are doing it, but there are distinct advantages from using systematically some simple techniques and ground rules. See also: Qualities & Skills of a coach
The opportunities presented by coaching are numerous. Together they represent a powerful influence on the motivation of people at work, how they feel about the way tire organisation encourages, guides and makes use of their abilities and develops their potential. The opportunities are:
• To develop people.
• To use experience to the best possible advantage.
• To help people acquire specific needed skills.
• To change or develop specific attitudes or behaviours.
• To reinforce or develop specific areas of knowledge needed for effective job performance.
• To help sharing of relevant job experiences, problems and expertise.
• To develop yourself as a manager by getting systematic and objective feedback on the important ways in which your behaviour affects other people, both In helping them and in hindering them.
• To help people take on responsibility for managing their own work problems by helping them recognise more fully the resources they have in themselves and giving them access to your experience.
• To help yourself recognise opportunities for delegation and provide you with time to give attention to more important things such as developing others.
Coaching is intended to do more than just help people be better performers at the jobs they currently have responsibility for. It is a key mechanism for facing people with new challenges and creating opportunities to discover the full extent of their abilities. It is also an important way of transferring at least some of the responsibility for personal growth onto others. By and large, people want the challenge of difficult things to do and they also want to share in the process of making it happen. Coaching then is something which you should be undertaking all the time. It is not something which you impose on people, but is in the form of a joint venture between you and others in which the main aim is to draw out the other persons commitment and enthuse to personal growth and increased self-¬responsibility.
What is Involved in Coaching?
In what ways could the person benefit from new challenge or experience. Is it to increase commitment or loyalty, to increase personal confidence or some specific aspect of performance, to do something about overcoming a performance weakness? Is there some which you both jointly want to improve, for example, the co-operation or communication between you?
How will you both know when success has been achieved? Any change must be within the authority of the person to achieve, or new limits of authority negotiated and agreed with appropriate people. If the person is taking on some new responsibility or activity, how does it fit with existing responsibilities?
In clarifying targets, agree on the most appropriate measures to use. Ideally these should be visible and tangible, planned outcome.
Agree how long it will take to achieve planned outcome. Agree a set of milestones as a way of assessing ongoing progress and as the basis for continuous review and in order to maintain a high level of motivation. Agree the size of each step leading to the next milestone. Agree a basis for reporting on progress and for giving early warning of any difficult or unanticipated problems.
How will the person go about achieving success? You could help by doing it yourself (ie. People can learn effectively from you in some important respects through observing you as the model of how something should be done). You could also achieve significant change by rewarding appropriate behaviour when you observe it.
More likely though, you will need to develop a clear plan, covering the following ground:
• What can you do yourself?
• What can other people including myself do to help?
• How will you go about it?
• Who will be involved?
• What methods will be used?
• What is likely to get in the way and make life difficult. Ie. Anticipate any known or likely difficulties and have contingency plans for handling them? keeping on track:
• Gain commitment by seeing the persons views and opinions, not by telling.
• The person being coached needs to be able to see where it all fits together.
• You gain by ensuring that you see the situation in the same way that the person being coached sees it.
How will progress be recognized? How will it be measured? Balance the person’s accountability against the need to learn, bearing in mind that learning sometimes leads to mistakes being made. Plan for systematic reporting back and create a climate of openness and frankness for when this happens.
Identify progress achieved. Consolidate and build on the learning which has taken place with other, more challenging tasks.
Giving Feedback, highlighting successes and solving problems thrown up by failures. What could have bee done better/differently.
Get feedback on your own coaching performance.
Some Useful Coaching Skills
• To words, tones and behaviour.
• To increase trust and openness, seek opinions, don’t tell.
• Use the mirror technique in which you paraphrase someone’s ideas back to them in order to check your understanding.
• Build on the other person’s ideas. Say what you like about them rather than what’s wrong with them.
• Avoid seeking to score points or make judgements or allocating blame.
• Seek opinions and ideas.
• Build on the person’s experience.
For more on coaching, check out our Coaching People for Better Performance instant download training package.