Learning is an ongoing process

Attrans Management Solutions

Coaching – Development Journey

by Moumita Gokhale

What is Coaching?

Put simply, coaching is a process that aims to improve performance and focuses on the here and now rather than on distant past or future. In the words of John Whitmore “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” Let us look at some more definitions to understand it further:

“Coaching is a form of accelerated learning that supports and facilitates enhanced performance. The coach uses questioning and listening in a way that creates experiential learning and translates ideas into actions.” Unknown Author

“Coaching is a conversation, a dialogue whereby a coach and a coachee interact in a dynamic exchange to achieve goals, enhance performance and then move the coachee forward to greater success.” Zeus & Skiffington

Therefore, one may say “Coaching is a dialogue in which the coach facilitates the coachee, to learn, clarify values, realise potential and increase performance by focusing on goals to achieve success.”

We often associate coaching with sport, so many people think of coaching as the teaching of skills, but coaching today is most definitely NOT TELLING, coaching is ASKING. The trained coach is equipped with the skills to build rapport and ask questions that create self-awareness for their clients. A key principle of coaching is that people have all the resources to solve their own problem. With this principle in mind the coach does not try to ‘fix’ the coachee but rather to bring awareness to factors such as frames of mind (beliefs, values, feelings, identity, etc.) that might be limiting performance.  Good questioning skills also allow the coach to facilitate the coachee to focus on what is important to them in terms of values, goals and success. With this clarity, the coach and the coachee can strategize to achieve the desired outcome.

Although teaching, training, mentoring, counselling and coaching share some common key characteristics and skills, it is important to understand the differences. I have tried to put it across in the following table.

 

LEARNING METHOD

MENTORING COACHING COUNSELLING TRAINING TEACHING
OBJECTIVE Opening horizons Raising competence Build self-understanding Build skills Build knowledge
PROCESS  Coach & Counselling Questioning & listening Guiding Interactive Demonstration Telling
THE FOCUS Future Present Past  Future Future
QUESTION WHAT HOW WHY WHAT WHAT
BUY IN BOTH BOTH NOT SURE NOT SURE NOT SURE

Coaching in most cases assists a client to bridge the gap between where they are now, to where they would like to be far more effectively than if they worked alone. A coach achieves this with:

Powerful Questioning Technique 

  • Helps to raise the awareness of a client 
  • They get clarity on what they truly desire 
  • And who they are at their core

SMART Action Planning 

  • Assisting them to create practical, step-by-step action plans to reach their goals

Continued Planned Coaching Sessions

  • Providing on-going support through any changes or obstacles a client may encounter.

Suggestions on tools, techniques and strategies to create lasting change and success

Some qualities a coach needs to display

Goal Setting
to be able to articulate and help the client reach smart goals

Empathising
being non-judgemental & staying neutral

Checking
being absolutely with the client; it’s all about the client and it’s not about the coach

Looking
to help the coachee to articulate and share innovative solutions

Giving Feedback
rephrase or paraphrase

Listening
to understand the intent of the client

Intuiting
able to ask and probe questions to help understand the situation

Perhaps it’s time to look at the coaching process in detail — Broadly there are three aspects of coaching as given below:

Desired Outcome
  • Identifying & articulating a topic/issue/concern/subject
    The coach will help the client to define and state the desired outcome for the coaching session
Innovative Solutions
  • Exploring ideas: The coach will probe, challenge, listen and question until the client develops clarity and goal to move toward
  • Identifying & addressing obstacles if any: The client will identify barriers if any and discover points of leverage
SMART Goals
  • Taking action: The Coach will help develop a clear SMART action plan to move forward
  • Refining and Reflecting: The Coach will support and help the client through the process to the achievement of goals

So, a Coaching Process involves the following:

  • Coaching Relationships are contracted for a specific time
  • Sessions can be more structured in nature and meetings can be scheduled on a regular basis
  • Focused on developing strengths and making sought after changes
  • Coaching does not require the coach to have direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role 
  • The coach may have sufficient understanding of the business or organizational sphere they are operating in. 
  • Agenda is set by the Coachee / Client – the focus will be agreed between Coach and Client across a coaching series and at each session
  • The agenda is focused on moving towards the clients stated goals

The great benefit of coaching is that it is very likely to help achieve quick, positive  outcomes. This is because coaching is participative, and people tend to learn and adopt new habits more easily when they are actively engaged in the learning process. As soon as a coaching session ends one can implement a new practice.

The process is entirely devoted to the client – their issues and the attainment of new behaviour goals. One great point about coaching is that it takes place over an extended period of time, which means one will be constantly challenged and encouraged to work on issues that need improvement. In the business context coaching is therefore useful in talent development, change management and seeking specific solutions to professional challenges.

An individual working in an organisation may get benefitted in one all the following ways: 

  • improvement in individual’s performance, targets and goals
  • increased openness to personal learning and development
  • increased ability to identify solutions to specific work-related issues
  • greater ownership and responsibility
  • development of self-awareness
  • improvement of specific skills or behaviour
  • greater clarity in roles and objectives
  • the opportunity to correct behaviour/performance difficulties

Coaching as a process may also be used in different forums such as career, life, relationship, business, sports, among others.  . To summarise, the following definition is the best –

Coaching is…

a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve. To be successful, a Coach requires knowledge and understanding of process as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which the coaching takes place.

Eric Parsloe, The Manager as Coach and Mentor (1999) page 8.
Eric is a respected author and Director of the 
OCM   

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