Increasingly, clients are seeking coaching assistance from outside their organisations. This may be as a result of personal dissatisfaction, or as a result of an organisational intervention.
It has been suggested that the rise in external coaching is because leaders and managers do not have the time or the skills to coach or mentor staff anymore. However, it may also be because there is a growing number of professional coaches who can open client eyes far wider than their organisation’s leaders and managers.
What is Coaching?
Coaching is an ongoing professional dialogue between a coach and a client that drives positive sustainable personal change, and can help a client produce extraordinary results.
Coaching involves a structured conversation that draws heavily on adult learning principles and self-directed learning.
Coaching is not consulting, nor is it therapy or behavioural counselling. It is not on-the-job training which tends to be trainer-centred rather than learner-centred.
Value of Coaching
Leaders and managers in today’s organisations desperately need the time to stop and reflect on their situation. An impartial and experienced coach can:
- Focus on the needs of the client
- Customise the approach to align with what the client wants to achieve
- Explore, listen, observe, and encourage client self-discovery
- Ask the right questions at the right time without fear or favour
- Hold the client responsible and accountable for their own development.
The coaching process involves asking the right questions to help the client through the following steps.
- What would you like to achieve from this coaching process?
- What would you like to discuss during this coaching process?
Exploring the client’s reality
- What is happening now that you would like not to happen? What is not happening now that you would like to happen?
- What are you feeling now that you would like not to feel? What are you not feeling now that you would like to feel?
- What effect does this have on you? How do you know this?
- What do others think about you? How do you know this?
Eliciting client-generated options
- What have you tried so far to change the situation? What happened?
- What else could you do to change the situation? What have other people suggested you do?
- What have other people done in this situation? Would you like some suggestions from me?
- To which options are you most/least attracted? Of which options are you most/least capable?
Planning the next steps
- What do you think would work best in this situation?
- Which options do you wish to act on? How would you go about doing this?
- What do you plan to do by when or between now and the next session?
- What could stop you from doing this? What could help you do this?
- How willing and committed are you to doing this?
The coaching process may occur over a number of sessions so each would:
- Start with a review of the agreed action plan and a discussion of what has happened since the last session
- Finish with an agreed action plan to be undertaken between now and the next session.
- Be tolerant – be aware of your prejudices, biases and weaknesses; and your body language
- Be prepared – have a draft coaching plan for each session including a list of possible questions
- Be focussed – clear your mind of static and focus on the needs of the client
- Be considerate – coach in a non-threatening place and at a non-threatening time
- Be an active listener – observe, concentrate, listen, clarify, reflect, summarise
- Be comfortable with silence – make sure the client does most of the talking not you
- Be reliable – be on time and always follow through with your promises – expect the same of your client
- Be trustworthy – show empathy, show compassion, and maintain confidentiality
- Be patient and flexible – recognise that this may take time and that you may need to try several different approaches
- Be restrained – only give an opinion or a suggestion if the client asks or if you have reached an impasse
- Be supportive – help the client test their self-picture, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and determine their own development options
- Be attentive – take notes at the coaching sessions, including about your learnings and feelings
Somewhat problematically almost all Coaching Manuals refer to setting “SMART” goals. The acronym SMART has been variously described as:
- S = specific, significant, stretching
- M = measurable, meaningful, motivational
- A = agreed, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
- R = realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented, (w)ritten
- T = time-based, timely, tangible, trackable.
My suggested descriptions are bolded – what do you think?
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