Know what to pay attention to when considering coaching.
Why has coaching becomes so prevalent and is it a fad?
Although it may appear that coaching is a fad at the moment, the answer is no. Coaching in some form or another has been around since human beings formed relationships, a long time, and over recent years has become an industry, and is becoming a profession.
If you consider how complex the world has become, people are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with commitments, relationships, and many other areas of their life and as a result often experience the feeling of being overwhelmed. The rate of change has, in most instances, become more rapid than the rate of learning. This makes it difficult for people to contribute in ways they intend, leaving them feeling ill equipped and unable.
So, in order to be successful in the world, human beings need new ways of learning that allow them to do things differently, and ultimately be able to act differently as a matter of course. And this is where coaching is most useful as a tool to enable people to grow and develop in a sustainable, focused way.
Who can benefit from coaching?
Everyone can benefit from coaching and it depends on whether someone believes they are worth the investment of time and effort. Coaching is extremely effective when someone realizes they are ‘stuck’ in habits and want to change some of their patterns of behavior that no longer work for them.
To date my clients have been highly successful business people who want to continue to grow and develop their skill and ability so that they can make the impact they intend to make. They have found coaching provides them with the leverage to do just this.
What kind of coaching do you do?
I am skilled as an Ontological Coach and Integral Coach, both of which consider the person holistically (cognitive, emotional, somatic, relational, and spiritual), as well as the challenge or opportunity that a person brings to coaching. This form of coaching does not intend to change behavior only, although this happens as part of the process. Rather it enables individuals to develop a new way of relating to themselves and others as they become more effective and able in their lives. A different observer if you like. There are clear outcomes agreed at the outset and, through conversations and doing things differently through practices, skill is developed. Practices form an important part of the process, as insights alone do not build new competencies that create sustainable change.
This coaching is aimed at building long-term excellent performance, and be self-correcting and self-generating. What this means is that the you are able to meet objective standards of the discipline in which coaching is occurring, and the performance can be sustainable over time. It also means that the you learn the art of self-observation and that over time you have the capacity to make different choices and take new action on your own.
What do you mean by a practice?
A practice is something you do (an action) on a regular basis in order to build a new skill or competence. To become skillful at anything requires practice and it is through the practice that we are able to master anything new, which in turn grows our ability to act in the world. For example, Roger Federer’s success is as a result of ongoing practice over many years – it was not just inherent talent!
What assumptions do you have about human beings as a coach and about coaching?
- People come to coaching resourceful and whole. They do not require fixing.
- As human beings we are able to create a life that is of significance and value in the world.
- People are open to learning, have an innate ability to grow and develop, and are committed to do so in order to contribute as fully as possible.
- At the heart of coaching is a two-way relationship that is based on mutual trust, respect and freedom of expression. This means that it is a place for deep listening and sharing, and confidentiality is key.
- In the course of coaching others I keep growing and developing on a continual basis.
- As self-awareness grows, so does the ability to make more conscious choices and through this take new action.
- We have developed habits/practices that inform who we have become, and we need to engage in new practices so that we have a new way of relating and being in the world.
What happens if I find that the coaching isn’t working for me?
As with any change, sometimes you may feel that the coaching program isn’t working and that can be a signal to actually stay the course. Coaching takes time and it can stir up strong responses along the way and the temptation may be to rather avoid looking at what is actually going on.
The best approach is to allow yourself to observe what is really happening within yourself before making any decisions regarding ending your coaching program. By doing this, you allow yourself to fully consider all possibilities that are present, rather than shutting down potential openings that may exist. In this way, if you do decide to forego coaching and end the coaching program it is based on what your real needs are, as opposed to a sense of discomfort.
Why should I commit to coaching as opposed to a training program?
Coaching is aimed at developing a new skill or competence, and can also assist in fundamental change for the person being coached. Coaching tends to happen on a one-on-one basis, and the coaching program is tailor made to the needs of the person. There are no predetermined outcomes, but rather the outcomes to be achieved are developed together with the coach and person being coached and skill, competence, and change happens over time. It is a sustainable change that the person is able to maintain consistently, over time, developing the capacity for new action.
Training programs tend to use a broad-brush approach, in that the outcomes focused on are for a target audience as opposed to individually tailored, and may not always deliver to an individual’s specific needs. Training programs also tend to be an event rather than an ongoing intervention that build capacity over time. The end result of training therefore may only deliver to a predetermined skill or competence, without considering the needs of all the learners.
Both approaches are valid and useful, dependent on the needs of the individual. Consideration should be given to what is needed and what would therefore be the best approach.
What will you tell my manager about the coaching program if the company is paying for this?
When working with an individual where the company is paying, it is important to have explicit boundaries to ensure that all the parties involved are clear on what the relationships look like, and importantly how confidentiality within is maintained.
At the outset of the coaching program explicit outcomes are defined and normally these are shared and agreed to. The conversations and program content remains confidential and no information is revealed without a client’s knowledge and permission. Some people are happy to share far more detail , which can provide a wonderful support.
What does a typical coaching program look like?
A typical coaching program takes 6 – 7 months with meetings taking place every two weeks or so based on diary constraints for approximately 1 – 1½ hour’s each time (12 meetings). At the initial phase of the coaching, in addition to meeting with you we may agree it would be useful to observe you and/or meet with other people who could share insights about you as well as other possible assessment methods.
The program would incorporate conversations, which include questions and offering new perspectives as well as self-observations and practices.
How will I know if this is working and that the necessary change has taken place?
The coaching happens over time, and we identify upfront the intended outcomes that you will focus on. Having said that, sometimes the initial outcomes aren’t the ‘final’ outcomes and there can be a shift in emphasis. Together we review the coaching process to assess what is working / not working and modify whatever we need to make sure that the coaching program is successful for you.
What is the difference between coaching, counseling and mentoring?
Coaching works to achieve long term sustainable results through a rigorous approach that has clear accountability (for coach and client) built into it. It involves assessment, ongoing conversations, new perspectives, and practices to enable you to build new competence.
Counseling tends to focus on resolving past issues and often involves a diagnosis. Generally, there aren’t specific outcomes that are agreed to upfront and it is intended to help people resolve issues or problems in the past that are inhibiting their performance in the present.
Mentoring is a supportive process aimed at improving performance and effectiveness. It differs from coaching in that the mentor tends to be a person at a more senior level in the organization/field and it is often based on ‘belonging’ in a an organization. The mentor may use his/her influence and power base to help the person being mentored get results.
With all of these approaches, a key element is the need to have a strong relationship as the foundation, as it is a bond based on respect, trust and confidentiality.
Are there different kinds of coaching?
Yes, there are a number of different coaching approaches and it would be worth your while to explore the different types of coaching that is offered to establish what would meet your needs. Within that I would suggest you look at what training, qualification, and experience (coaching and life) the coach has before you make a decision about who will be able to fulfill your requirements.
What happens if during the course of the coaching I find that we are going into issues too deeply?
As the person being coached, it is very important that you feel respected and that you have an equal voice. At any time, you have the right to ask for a change in pace and focus. At the heart of the coaching is a relationship where both parties feel legitimized and respected.
What are the skills and qualities I should look for in a coach?
It really depends on what you are looking for, but I would say that you find your coach trustworthy and by that I mean that they are consistent in their approach, sincere, and competent to help you get where you want to go. A coach should also be patient and someone who does not impose their way of seeing the world on you, the client, but rather can help you explore yours. Another key quality is that they should be creative in the way in which they approach the coaching process considering your specific needs.
Skills could include someone who is able to offer you useful observations, as well as co-design a program with you that gets you the results you want. Also, someone who can offer you new perspectives that enable you to become a different observer and take different action.
Why do you need to do an assessment when coaching someone?
It can be useful to do an assessment (of some kind) upfront in order for you both to understand and agree on the current way of being and the new way of being that you want to develop towards. The assessment can simply be a conversation, or it can be a tool such as the Enneagram.
Can coaching be measured?
Yes, and more and more research is becoming available that measures the return on investment that coaching offers. The range of ROI for executive coaching captured in literature ranges between 5-8 times the investment (500-800%).
A study done by the Manchester group identified the following benefits that were measured:
Improved Relationships 77%
Improved Teamwork 66%
Improved Job Satisfaction 61%
Improved Productivity 53%
Improved Quality 48%
In addition to these measures, others include retention of key staff, pre- and post 360 ° feedback, and delivery to the outcomes agreed upfront. These look at organizational measures and what shouldn’t be ignored are the individual benefits – not easy to measure, but they also have a marked impact. These include increased self-awareness, reduced stress, greater self-confidence, development of new and greater skill, and ability to deal with change.