The terms ‘coach’ and ‘coaching’ are often used in many contexts, such as in sports, business and life. People often have different perceptions and understanding of what coaching is.
In this article, we will look at what coaching is and its benefits, where it can be used and what professional development is important. Our focus is in the business and organisational context.
What is coaching?
Coaching is often used interchangeably with other terms such as ‘teaching’, ‘instructing’, training’, ‘mentoring’ and others.
However, although related, they are all different and require very specific skills and qualifications. They all have an important place in learning and development. They are often used very effectively in conjunction with each other; complementing each other to meet the requirements of different individual learning needs, different outcomes, and different situations.
Many people become a coach by being good at what they do and wanting to help others reach their full potential. But in reality, there is much more to being a coach than just having the skills and knowledge in your particular field and passing them on to others.
You need to know how to have the right conversations with others, regardless of the field they work in, to help them find and commit to their own solutions. It is not the job of a coach to tell someone what to do or how to do it.
People often need help to think through the specific nature of a situation they are facing, the outcomes they require, the factors impacting on the situation, the options for solutions and the feasibility of possible solutions and actions.
The role of the coach is to facilitate this thinking through the use of skillful listening, questioning and challenge. This will help the person they are coaching develop their capability and to own their decisions and solutions.
Coaching is the antithesis to ‘micromanagement’.
Where can coaching be used?
In essence, coaching can be used in any situation where a person needs help finding a solution to something they are facing. Coaching conversations can be useful in a multitude of situations such as:
- Informal workplace chats
- Formal workplace one-to-ones
- Personal development planning
- Action planning
- Career planning
- Team meetings
- Interactive training sessions
- Coaching sessions with a contracted coach
- In a mentoring conversation
- In some assessment situations
- And more …….
The importance of coaching in the workplace
Coaching needs to be embedded in company culture for employees to reap the benefits. This is a big statement and, in reality, is easier said than done!
Coaching is a distinct management and leadership style and approach. Often this will require some managers to be able to recognise when they need to override their preferred style of ‘command and control’ or ‘tell and instruct’.
Coaching, when used skillfully and in the right situations, can contribute to potential long-term benefits such as:
- Improved long term employee performance and motivation levels: Coaching helps develop self-reliance and initiative. People truly know and understand how they can find their own solutions, achieve required objectives to high standards and grow their levels of competence and confidence. This can also bring improved job satisfaction and enjoyment.
- Creation of stronger team relationships: Effective and sustained coaching conversations can engender mutual trust and respect, with no need for ‘command and control’ (unless, of course, something like a crisis situation requires it)
- Opening lines of communication: Coaching is a two-way, non-hierarchical and empowering process
Professional development of coaches
As in any other area of work, a commitment to continuing professional development is crucial in order to maintain competence and credibility.
Three key areas of professional development activity for a coach are:
- A coach should regularly engage with a Coach Supervisor – to critically reflect on their own coaching practice and identify ongoing development
- A coach can achieve, update or upgrade their recognised coaching qualifications – for example the ILM coaching qualifications
- A coach can become an active and practicing member of a recognised and reputable professional body such as the Association for Coaching, the EMCC and the ICF.
Coaching with Inspired2Learn
Here at Inspired2learn we have extensive experience and credentials for providing professional development opportunities for coaches as follows:
- ILM Coaching qualifications at levels 3, 5 & 7
- ILM Level 7 Coach Supervision qualification
- Coaching skills training – workshops and webinars
- Coach supervision for practicing coaches
- Access to learning resources such as Clare Smale’s books and coaching cards – Clare is an experienced and practising Executive Coach.