Lindsay Taylor explains some common misconceptions about coaching
What is Coaching?
Coaching is a term used for a Programme of one-to-one sessions that enable you to gain greater awareness and an understanding of how to accelerate and achieve your full potential.
According to the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development), Coaching is a “skilled activity which should be delivered by people who are trained to do so”. With no regulatory body here in the UK, there are many individuals claiming to be “Coaches” with little or no specialised training or qualifications. Only yesterday I read an article written by a “Coach” who transposed the terms “coaching” and “mentoring” as one and the same thing – this is concerning to me and I’d like to explain the difference.
Whilst Mentoring is an incredibly useful development tool – whereby a more experienced, knowledgeable and skilled colleague supports the development of a more inexperienced colleague or member of staff – it is not Coaching.
Mentoring is generally a longer-term relationship with an emphasis on a directive approach, whereas Coaching is a shorter-term Programme with more emphasis on a non-directive approach.
What do you mean by non-directive?
Whereas a directive approach provides advice and solutions, a non-directive approach is based on the Coach asking open, thought-provoking questions of you, the Coachee (the person being coached). This allows space and time for you to express yourself in your own way – and come up with your own solutions. When you come up with your own solutions you have a sense of empowerment and confidence in putting into action those ideas and solutions.
A good Coach has been trained in listening and communicating effectively. As an experienced Coach myself, I believe it’s as much about what the Coachee does not say as what they do say – or how they say something or react to a thought-provoking question.
So what else makes a good Coach?
Good Coaches work with you to ascertain your goals and outcomes, and develop a truly personalised and bespoke Programme. They will help you identify the tools, strategies and thinking you need to be successful in your role. They will ensure you have the motivation and confidence to move forward.
I personally believe a good Coach is one who holds a coaching qualification and is preferably a member of a professional body of Coaches – demonstrating their commitment to the profession.
So, what does a “typical” Coaching Programme look like?
Programmes do vary, but our most popular one is made up of 5 X 90 minute sessions. Each session is about a month apart in order for the client to explore and practice the skills learned during that session.
A good Coach will have your ultimate success and development as their goal – so ideally will be available between sessions (via telephone or email) so that you have the instant support, feedback and opportunity to discuss learning experiences. As to the content of the Coaching sessions, there is no “one size fits all” Programme. Your Coaching Programme is just that – yours.
What will I get out of a Coaching Programme?
As I’ve emphasised earlier, because each Coaching Programme is bespoke and personalised to the individual, what you will specifically get out of a Coaching Programme will be very different to your colleague. In essence, once you’ve identified what skills and learning you need or want to develop yourself, a Coach will work with you to ensure you achieve these.
Whilst new skills and learning will be shared with you, the non-directive emphasis of coaching means that very often you will come up with your own ideas and solutions to put into practice – this is a great motivator and confidence-booster. In a way, the Coach acts as a catalyst, helping you unlock your thinking. Very often you have all the answers already – it just takes an impactful and thought-provoking question to bring the answer to the surface!
According to a Survey conducted by the International Coach Federation (Client Survey Copyright 1997-2000 – International Coach Federation) the outcomes most clients attribute to coaching are:
• A higher level of self awareness: 67.6%
• Smarter goal setting: 62.4%
• A more balanced life: 60.5%
• Lower stress levels: 57.1%