The use of coaching within organisations, whether formally (through structured internal or external coaching arrangements) or informally, as an element of a style of conversation, is becoming recognised as a powerful tool for individual and organisational development. Organisations are increasingly seeking to develop “coaching cultures”.
What is coaching?
Coaching is used as an approach to enable individuals and teams to move forward in a certain direction through generating greater awareness, responsibility and choice. For example, in a line manager’s informal coaching conversation with a team member, coaching might consist of the manager and team member talking about things the team member wants to change and the line manager helping the team member develop motivation and momentum towards achieving the change. Good coaching is a facilitative process unlocking capability through guiding and questioning rather than teaching and instructing. Thus, the “coachee” takes greater responsibility for the outcome and action resulting from the conversation.
Who can benefit from a coaching approach?
People enlist the services of a coach because they want to improve their situations and achieve goals. They want to learn new ways of thinking and approaching situations, in order to get better results. Common goals might be being more effective and organised at work, gaining confidence in certain situations, or simply relating to other people more effectively. Often, coaching is associated specifically with the talent pipeline or senior managers and directors although from the description above, it can be understood that any team member will benefit.
What is the difference between coaching and managing?
It is not uncommon to hear the term “managing” and “coaching” used interchangeably. Those who understand the difference (that will include you after you read this article) cringe a little inside when this occurs because it is likely they have worked for, or with, a manager who certainly was not a coach, and therefore ineffective. In a nutshell, coaching is a function of managing that every good leader of others must be able to do well.
The term “managing” refers to the job of overseeing the work of others. The responsibilities of a manager typically include, but are not limited to, the following:
- On-boarding and orienting new employees
- Conducting meetings
- Delegating tasks and assignments
- Giving feedback
- Monitoring progress and performance
- Making decisions
- Dealing with conflicts
The term “coaching” refers to a two-way communication process between members of the organisation (leaders to team members, peers to peers, team members to leaders) aimed at influencing and developing the employees’ skills, motivation, attitude, judgment or ability to perform, and the willingness to contribute to an organisation’s goals.
Unfortunately, too many managers fall short of success because they focus on the task and bottom line results, overlooking the fact that results are best achieved through developing and inspiring others to achieve those results. While achieving results through others is a challenging task, organisations cannot grow and compete if their managers don’t talk to people about their performance and contribution to the organisation. With regular and skillful coaching, managers can fulfil their responsibility to deliver:
- Enhanced performance and improved productivity
- A work environment where people are highly engaged
- A culture of trust within the organisation
Once a manager learns how to think, talk, and act like a coach, the “coaching process” not only becomes second nature to the coach but changes attitudes and behaviours of his or her team members.
What are the core skills of coaching?
A coaching approach uses a combination of observation, questioning, listening and feedback to create a conversation rich in insight and learning. For the coachee, they will experience a focus and attention that will enable them to develop a greater awareness and appreciation of their own circumstances. In addition, they will also create new ways to resolve issues, produce better results and generally achieve goals more easily.