Coaching is a great way to develop skills and abilities of people in the workplace and has a number of associated benefits, including increased knowledge, performance and morale of those who receive it. Used correctly and in a timely manner, coaching employees can also stop major problems by dealing with issues at the root cause beforehand.
In normal circumstances coaching sessions are conversations between the coach and the coachee. These sessions are guided by the coach and are often a learning by discovery experience for the coachee, as they often identify issues or come up with solutions themselves. With this approach, the coach can gain more engagement, as employees get to work on solutions they identified themselves as opposed to directions that are forced on them from superiors.
What Coaching is Not
More and more companies are a turning to coaching programs for employee development and it is now widely believed to be a positive step towards realizing organisational expectations and employee goals. Unfortunately, there are some, although thankfully they are in the minority, who use coaching when it´s too late. Coaching is not something that is done as corrective action after a mistake. Neither, should it be used as a half-hearted, tick the box approach, just to add the experience to the employee´s record. Coaching is a tool that should be used for the mutual benefit of the employee and the organisation.
Often, coaching programs are designed and conducted by external qualified professionals that understand the vision and culture of the organisation. Working from pre-determined development criteria, the coach works with the client organisation to improve performance, effectiveness and morale amongst other things. Coaching programs are most effective when all those involved understand and buy into the reason the coach was hired. Working together towards the same goal, the organisation, coach and coachee, can all realize their expectations.
That said, an organisation doesn´t have to hire a professionally certified external coach. Managers within the organisation who have the appropriate skill set can be equally as effective in people development. However, it´s often very difficult for managers to remove the management hat and replace it with the coaching hat, as typically they are two very different styles. The manager´s style may be controlling and authoritarian, whereas coaching takes more of a questioning approach and encourages the coachee to become a reflective practitioner.
The style of coaching between an external coach and an internal employee / manager will differ, not least because the manager will already have background information on the concerns that surround the need for coaching. However, it is still wise to tread carefully initially, as these situations are often fraught with complexities and there may be hidden issues that the coachee is harbouring.
As a coach in these situations, it´s often best to reserve judgement and concentrate on the task at hand. Sticking to a rigid agenda may have its benefits in meetings and training sessions, however as coaching sessions are very often a journey of learning by discovery, the desired result may be best achieved by creating an atmosphere that allows for more fluid and relaxed conversation.
The Coaching Relationship
The relationship between coach and coachee is based on:
Without the above, nothing moves forward. There needs to be complete mutual respect and trust between both parties before any development can take place.
Questions That Coaching Can Help With
- How can I improve my time management?
- What should I my next move be in my organization?
- How can I reduce my stress levels at work?
- How can I achieve a better work / home life balance?
- What skills do I need for my personal development?
- How can I improve my relationship with a difficult colleague?
As a coach, you may not be a qualified therapist, counsellor or consultant but you may find yourself using some similar skills. Listening to the coachee is an important part of the program. As we mentioned earlier, it is the coachee who often has the answers and solutions. The role of the coach is to help the coachee discover them. With that, conversations between the coach and coachee can often run a little deeper as the coachee unloads problems of a personal nature or work-based grudges. It is vital that these conversations remain confidential. That is of course unless the information contains illegal practices, potential damage to the organisation or is likely to affect the safety of people.
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