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Debugging 5 myths about coaching

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As fashionable as coaching is, one challenge for many have been to find a way to brand themselves. This created several issues. First we can often find confusion between the name “coach” and the tool and methodology “coaching. We can also see at times an incorrect focus onto the methodology rather than onto the results; coaching is not so much the subject of the conversation, however what coaching can lead to is of much more importance. It seems fashion around coaching is leading to superficiality of the concepts. Let’s debug 5 myths about coaching and then present the actual reality.

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Debugging 5 myths about coaching

  1. 1. Coaching in the Corporate World – #2: Debugging 5 myths about coaching Page 1 of 4 – 2016 Florence Dambricourt, Mindset Strategist Coaching in the corporate world: debugging 5 myths about coaching By Florence Dambricourt Mindset Strategist, EMCC practitioner Reviewing insurances contracts one day, Bill Gates is said to have expressed some surprises out loud with something similar to: “I am not sure why the costs of insuring building are so high when the biggest part of my capital goes home every evening.” He was talking of his employees of course. As years goes on, business challenges evolves however one thing remains constant: the needed partnership between employers and employees. For any organization, its workforce is its main asset; without a CEO or an entrepreneur there is no company to hire people and without any employees willing to work for the company, its ideas and its projects, there is no company. The cost of developing this workforce is also a recurrent item in the conversation; we could humorously summarise some of the dilemma with that short conversation between a CFO and a CEO “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?” and the CEO to reply “What happens if we don’t and they stay?” One way to approach this development of workforce in the past 4 decades has been the increasing usage of coaching. In 2011, a Manchester Consulting Group study of Fortune 100 executives reported that “coaching resulted in a ROI of almost six times the programme cost”. Two years later, in their 2013 annual report, CPID (Chartered Institute of Personal and development – UK) reported coaching as being the most effective talent management activities. Their 2015 reports on L&D (Learning and Development) shows an increase of internal coaching program, and employees favoured this approach as being a satisfactory learning solution. The success of coaching is linked to its core focus: the employee. Even though coaching programs exist with set numbers of sessions, their content is always tailored to what the person being coached really looks for and truly need; they are fully personalized approaches and therefore “Feel-great approach”. With this article, the second number of our series “Coaching in the corporate world”, let’s debug 5 myths about coaching and then present the actual reality.
  2. 2. Coaching in the Corporate World – #2: Debugging 5 myths about coaching Page 2 of 4 – 2016 Florence Dambricourt, Mindset Strategist The strength of the coaching methodology is to have multiple applications. Many training methodology actually leverage from coaching. Coaching – The latest victim of the world of fashions? If you were to google the word “coaching” today you will easily find a good numbers of results, definitely more than 320,000,000 in half a second (Findings from October 4th 2015), and if you were to do the same with the word “coach”, it more than doubles the result. Coaching -either sports or mental coaching- is an extremely powerful methodology whose primary focus is the learner, also called the coachee. The strength of the coaching methodology is to have multiple applications. Many training methodologies, applying the latest on andragogy, actually leverage from coaching methodology in the way learning is being built. Pedagogy does the same and the move from the traditional vision of “the empty vase” to more collaborative approaches reflects as well an integration of the coaching methodology. In the corporate world, as nicely said in this short 2013 TED talk From Bill Gates at New York , it has been recognized that, similar to top performers in sports, top performers in business benefit from having a coach. With initially a few training locations in the 1980s we now have thousands of coaching programs around the world for people interested in becoming a coach; we even have some courses available in university as a full discipline. Among the world of coaching, we call this the “Wild Wild West of coaching” effect and we often debate on the importance of having defined ethics and standards. Two organizations actually focus on this: the ICF (International Coach Federation, whose headquarters are based in US), and the EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council, whose headquarters are based in Europe). As fashionable as coaching is, one challenge for many have been to find a way to brand themselves. This created several issues. First we can often find confusion between the name “coach” and the tool and methodology “coaching. We can also see at times an incorrect focus onto the methodology rather than onto the results; coaching is not so much the subject of the conversation, however what coaching can lead to is of much more importance. It seems fashion around coaching is leading to superficiality of the concepts.
  3. 3. Coaching in the Corporate World – #2: Debugging 5 myths about coaching Page 3 of 4 – 2016 Florence Dambricourt, Mindset Strategist Rather than seeing coaching as “problem- solver”, it is more accurate to see coaching as a “solution-finder” or “solution-builder”. The expertise of the coach is in knowing how and when to ask the right questions. Debugging five myths about coaching. 1) First and probably the biggest myth of all: “coaching is for people with problem”. Often there is this common assumption that coaching means “problem-solving”. It is true that coaching is a fantastic approach to problem-solving, however what is associated with the word “problem” can be anything from a true issue to be fixed to a skill you want to improve and strengthen. Rather than seeing coaching as “problem-solver”, it is more accurate to see coaching as a “solution-finder” or a “benefit-builder” approach. In the small ted Talk cited above (Bill Gates - Ted New York 2013), it is interesting to hear Eric Schmidt (Google) explaining how he initially had this same assumption “coaching was for people having problems”. Later he acknowledged that “getting a coach” was among the best advices he ever received in business, and he concluded that small interview piece with: “everybody needs a coach”. Whatever the intent, solving a problem or improving an existing strength, ones does that by stepping back to widen horizons, getting perspectives and feedbacks at the same time. A coach is somebody who assists in seeing these other perspectives and getting those feedbacks. 2) Another myth would be: “my coach need to know everything, especially in my business”. This is correct when the person is looking for a mentor, and a coach is not a mentor. A mentor gives advice and sometimes may suggest direct actions. A coach rather asks questions to allow clients to find their own solutions. At times of course, a coach can put a mentor hat however this should be clearly mentioned. When working with providers, we usually select them for their expertise in their area of business. The actual business of a coach is to ask the right questions and this is where should be the expertise of the coach, not in the business of the person being coached. Now that’s true that a sport coach will be an expert in the sports being coached; the same way a “sales-coach” will be an expert in sales; in both these cases the coach is actually as much a trainer as a coach. The expertise of the coach is in knowing how and when to ask the right questions. This really assists in getting perspectives and feedbacks, as well as developing autonomy. 3) Third myth, coaching is highly time-consuming. This is an odd one because there are actually no rules. It simply depends on several components such as: the purpose of the coaching program, the time allocated for coaching, the relationship between coach and coachee. A coaching intervention can be as short as 15 minutes. Depending on the actual objectives of the coaching program four short sessions of 15 minutes on a weekly basis can be more appropriate than one hour of coaching a month. These details -on how to structure the coaching program- are usually reviewed during the first session. Most coaches offer a certain level of flexibility to always offer what works best for their coachees. In coaching regular short sessions can be more efficient and manageable than one long session. What matters is what the coachee needs.
  4. 4. Coaching in the Corporate World – #2: Debugging 5 myths about coaching Page 4 of 4 – 2016 Florence Dambricourt, Mindset Strategist 3 THINGS TO DO THIS WEEK to explore coaching 1- S for SITUATION – Set a moment aside to look around: Where you are? What’s going on? Who is around you? Let your mind do the 360˚ feedback of your day. 2- S for SPIRIT and ASPIRATION – Take several deep breaths and get out in the open air then look around: What do you like to see on the horizon? 3- Download our FREE RESOURCE and start your own SPIRAL of GROWTH. Developing in-house program assist in developing a company culture associated with authenticity, trust and respect. 4) Our next myth and this one is definitely a favourite of mine: “there is no need for coach, we have managers”. Could that myth be a simple “lost in translation” effect? Or is it rather due to confusion between the name “coach” and the methodology “coaching”? Managers are indeed strongly encouraged to manage whenever possible with a coaching style. This coaching style is based on the coaching methodology, which is an invaluable tool in developing collaborative and participative management, as well as encouraging autonomy in the client. Managers actually want to develop many different managing styles, in order to adapt to people and situations. Being at the same time the coach and the manager of someone is most of the times not possible. The hierarchical link prevents a straightforward coaching agreement and both manager and employees may at time experience conflicts of interest. This will prevent the building of the trust relationship needed for a coaching intervention to work. Whatever ways you look at it the first partnership managers have is with their company, and not with the employees they managed. 5) Our last myth for today: “coaching is better done when the coach is coming from the outside”. This is another odd one. The quality of the coaching does not come from rather coaches are internal or external to a company. It comes from -their qualification -their level of expertise –the relationship established between coaches and coachees –the match between coaches and coachees and the agreement established at start. While it may be true that, similar to managers, internal coaches may at times experience conflict of interests, a well thought set up of an in-house team of coaches can prevent conflict of interests. The ideal situation may actually be to combine the benefits of both worlds, internal and external team of coaches. One clear advantage of developing in-house program is reduction of costs and therefore the possibility to open coaching programs to most -and ideally all- employees. This will then assist in developing a company culture associated with authenticity, trust and respect; and we know –thanks to neurosciences and common sense- that these three elements boost creativity and performance. Watch out for our next article “#3 Exploring in-house coaching.” To know more, contact the author - Florence Dambricourt – or visit Talking4good @talking4good: powerful conversations for powerful action The Spirit of H2O (Humour, Horizon, Openness) & The rhythm of M2E (Movement, Mantra, Energy)

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