How do coaches help you
Why are coaching skills necessary?
The speed and complexity of modern life continue to increase, as do people’s expectations. Coping well requires autonomous and flexible thinking and sound decisions. Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to conform, not think for ourselves.
Coaching skills help people change as they learn to think things through themselves and make their own decisions.
What is coaching for?
When we seek or accept help with an issue we have been unable to resolve, there is often an emotional component. We often feel bad about needing help. The problem may cause confusing feelings, “I like my boss, but they drive me mad doing X. Dare I level with them?”. In the latter case, feelings of liking, irritation and anxiety are present together.
It is tough to think clearly when feeling strong feelings, whether good or bad. The primary function of coaching is to help people think clearly when feelings are present. The feelings can be from an experience in the present or the past or the fear of opening up.
Hearing “Your job is redundant” would generate negative feelings in most people. Someone who got into trouble with the headteacher at school might equally find meeting a senior administrator intimidating. This would remind that person of the earlier painful experience. They would find it hard to think.
What are coaching skills?
The coach’s job is to help the other person, the client, help themself, not to tell that person what to do. If clients are to be open about their thoughts and feelings, they need to feel safe, respected and understood. I list some skills below.
The coach must
So that the client can
|Listen||Develop their thinking|
|Not judge||Feel safe and respected|
|Pay attention||Know you care|
|Accept the clients’ feelings||Realise they are not being judged|
|Understand the client’s world and feelings, and put themselves in their shoes. Express that understanding.||Know you are with them|
|Think about the client||Get the best help possible|
The coach may
So that the client can
|Ask questions||Develop their thinking|
|Summarise||Hear their thoughts and know they are understood.|
|Ask the client to try new behaviour in the session||Find an alternative way to deal with an issue|
Coaches should not
This will make the client
|Dwell on their difficulties||Withdraw|
|Solve the problem for the client||Dependant|
|Tell the client what to do||Dependant or hostile|
|Belittle the clients’ concern||Withdraw or attack|
|Avoid painful areas||Be frustrated|
How does coaching work?
The relationship of the helper to the person being helped (client) determines the outcome more than any method. Effective helping requires the helper to:
- Treat the client respectfully (listening, paying attention and not judging).
- Demonstrate empathy (showing the client you are trying to understand their feelings in their situation).
- Be genuine (the client experiences you as caring for them, not going through the motions or using a mechanical technique).
When clients experience these, they will talk freely and solve their problems. Coaching techniques build on these core skills but can not replace them.
What are the implications for organisations?
Staggering! Most of the activity of organisations requires people to work together. Listening is the essential skill required. Coaching training is the best way to get people to appreciate the value of listening and want to listen well.
Organisational performance depends on the quality of staff thinking at all levels. Coaching enhances the ability of people to think, learn and act effectively.
These skills are vital for getting the best from people and all managers.