What is Coaching?
The purpose of coaching is for a more experienced person (the coach) to help a less experienced person grow to become more effective now and in the future. The helping takes account of the needs, strengths and weaknesses of the individual and the organisation. Coaching help often involves passing on knowledge, tips and good practices, opening doors for the individual and counselling.
Why is Coaching important?
People are an important and expensive investment for a Company. Another person’s attention and interest will help them grow. The coaching process benefits the receiver by accelerating his/her learning and rewards the coach in showing him/her what he knows. The business gains through the added value provided by more effective people.
How is Coaching done?
The coach has informal conversations with his/her client. The content of these conversations can be counselling, passing on experience, giving feedback, giving information (about the organisation, clients etc.) and opening doors inside the organisation.
What are the skills of Coaching?
A crucial skill, especially at the beginning of coaching, is for the coach to create a trusting relationship where the client can relax and accept help. The coach needs diagnostic skills (questioning and listening) to be able to decide what sort of help is going to be useful.
The help required could be counselling to enable the client to think through a problem after expressing his/her feelings about it. It’s hard to think when you are unhappy or angry. Counselling is a skilled activity and requires the ability to listen attentively, to accept and enable the expression of feelings, to ask questions that help people think and to refrain from judging them.
The coach also will require feedback skills. He/she will pick up information about the client’s performance from the organisation and this may be valuable to that person. This information, even if uncomfortable, is best given as information, not judgement. “Fred said you were too XYZ” is more useful than “You are too XYZ”.
Another useful form of help is for the coach to open doors or provide introductions for the client. He/she can provide information about who the people are and what makes them tick. This will make these meetings more likely to go well.
Finally it is likely that the coach will have much specific experience that would be valuable to pass on. Experience transfer is not easy. It demands a high quality relationship, enough time, good communication skills in both parties and determination to transfer key ideas in small pieces that can be assimilated.
How can coaching skills be acquired?
Those involved in coaching should ideally be actively involved in their own development.
You can learn trust building and diagnostic skills, counselling and feedback skills on courses using standard methods. Experience transfer thinking and learning, being newer, are less fully developed and are best learned using workshop procedures that also develop the thinking and practice.
Coaching and Organisational Culture
The coaching process requires the coach and client to engage in an open, close and mutually supportive relationship. The objective of the relationship is learning. This activity necessarily takes time. Organisations tend not to value learning, helping and thinking much as time spent doing and selling.
Coaching skills are valuable for managers and others and the process itself is valuable to the organisation. Anyone who is interested in developing staff will require these skills. The more informal and naturalised the coaching is, the more effective it will be.