What is coaching? This presentation explains how management coaching works and how you can use it to improve your own performance. How can it help? by Dr Roderic Gray
In the world of competitive sport a coach is someone who helps an athlete to improve his or her performance. Coaching is: The word has pretty much the same meaning in the management vocabulary; coaching is a form of help which can lead to significant improvements in a manager’s performance. Just as even the very best athletes make use of coaches, so even the most competent manager can benefit from coaching.
We reserve the word coach to mean someone, usually from outside the organisation, who: Coaching is: provides a service on a professional basis, works on a strictly one-to-one basis, in confidence, is someone to learn with , helps the manager by identifying and then challenging his or her existing mental frameworks, assumptions and perspectives and self-limiting mindsets, believes the essential task is to help the client develop greater self-knowledge, which is the foundation on which improvement can be built.
Although the word is sometimes used loosely, mentoring is distinct from coaching. In Greek legend, King Odysseus asked his trusted friend Mentor to take charge of the care and upbringing of the young prince Telemachus whilst the king was away at the Trojan wars. Mentoring This gives the term mentor a kind of parental, authoritative status; a giver of advice and instruction, a teacher and guardian, which isn’t the role of a coach . Mentors are often senior figures in the same organisation who help their protégés with advice and guidance, and perhaps ‘open doors’ to facilitate their career development.
Coaching and counselling Coaching and counselling are both ways of helping people to help themselves, and both aim to help clients to: see their present situation more clearly, understand how they feel about it, determine what, if anything, they want to do about it, and make realistic plans for achieving what they want. However, unlike counselling, coaching isn’t therapy; it doesn’t start from the premise that there’s something wrong. It assumes that there’s plenty that’s right and sets out to help and support the client in making it even better.
Coaches don’t usually give advice, they ask questions, and provide a safe, confidential sounding-board for their client. We also distinguish coaching from training. Skill deficiencies and training needs often emerge from the coaching process, but they should be dealt with elsewhere. Coaching and training A recurring metaphor throughout the coaching literature is ‘holding a mirror up’ to clients, enabling them to understand things about themselves and their behaviours that would otherwise remain hidden and therefore not available for examination and change.
Knowing ourselves There are also things which we know about ourselves but other people don’t know. These are in the area labelled ‘Façade’. Luft’s ‘Johari Window’* tells us that there are some things that we know about ourselves and that other people also know about us. Arena Blind spot Fa ç ade Unknown Unconscious Insight Things I know Things I don’t know Things others know Things others don’t know We already know about these things, so we don’t really need any help in identifying them: we could, if we chose, try to make changes (but how would we decide?) * Adapted from Luft, J (1963) Group Processes: An Introduction to Group Dynamics. Palo Alto, Mayfield Publishing These things are in the ‘Arena’.
Knowing ourselves For all of us, there will be things other people know about us but of which we ourselves are unaware. The Johari window labels this area our “Blind spot”. Arena Blind spot Fa ç ade Unknown Unconscious Insight Knowing more of the things that are plain to other people but hidden from ourselves could certainly free us from the odd blunder and open up possibilities for beneficial change. Coaching can be very effective in facilitating this insight. O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us to see oursels as others see us! It wad frae mony a blunder free us. Robert Burns
One key outcome of coaching is that the “Blind spot” is very much reduced in size. Knowing ourselves and this empowers them to change the perceptions that other people have of them in a variety of positive ways. Clients learn things about themselves of which they were previously unaware, Arena Fa ç ade Unknown Unconscious Insight Blind spot
Knowing ourselves Arena Blind spot Fa ç ade Unknown Unconscious Insight Finally, there are things about us which are unknown both to ourselves and to others. Coaching is very likely to enable clients to identify things which were previously in this ‘Unknown’ sector ~ which gives them a choice: The coach is the catalyst for this increase in self-knowledge and empowerment. they can decide to keep the new knowledge to themselves, ie, to retain it in the ‘Façade’ area, or they can choose to make it available, in the Arena, to other people as well.
Coaching for performance Coaching aims to enhance the capability of individual managers to contribute to the effectiveness of their organisations. It enables clients to see their own behaviours more objectively than would otherwise be possible. This self-knowledge is the first step in a process of identifying specific areas where change or development will be likely to lead to improved overall performance. (know thyself) inscribed on the lintel of the Oracle at Delphi γνωθι σεαυτόν
Coaching for performance Clear, specific actions are then defined; perhaps more knowledge about certain subjects, or skills training, or changes in the way the client interacts with colleagues, subordinates or superiors. The coach then works with the client to prioritise needs and give support and feedback as the client implements the agreed actions, and, crucially, helps to build the client’s own capacity for self-evaluation.
There is nothing vague or even particularly soft about this process. Coaching for performance Clear objectives are defined in just the same way as they are for any other area of performance, and results are monitored, but they are not normally made public. Achieving each objective is a step towards greater personal effectiveness at work and the consequences of this development process will be seen in the client’s workplace performance. The feedback the coach provides is confidential, safe and completely client-focused.
Coaching, like management education or soft skills training can be difficult to evaluate. Coaching and the bottom line We suggest that a coaching proposal should be costed in the same way as any project proposal or training needs assessment. Costs Benefits Time Specific performance targets can be agreed at or near the beginning, and progress monitored. The effectiveness of coaching can then be assessed over time.
You can see our Coaching Charter at www.kumpania.co.uk Our Coaching Charter We believe that an individual's personal growth and development are driven from within, and that the role of a coach is to facilitate those positive trends in non-directive, supportive and honest ways by providing feedback, asking questions and sometimes challenging words and behaviours. Our approach to coaching is based in the ideas of Carl Rogers. Everything the coach says or does must be for the client's benefit, to help him or her to become more effective in whatever terms are meaningful for that individual. the client. Our charges are time-related, so that the coach is free to exercise his or her professional judgement and skill. To be effective, coaching must be seen as a medium- to long-term process and we ask clients to commit to an ongoing relationship of at least several months. However, this is a "personal contract" rather than a financial one. Clients are free to withdraw from the relationship at any time without financial penalties. In this event we will charge only for unpaid time devoted or committed to the client up to the time we are notified of the withdrawal. Professional standards The coach will be professionally qualified in a management discipline and up to date with material and innovation in his or her specific field. He or she will ensure that best practice is always applied. The coach will not provide advice in any field in which he or she is not qualified.
For more information about Roderic Gray’s coaching and consulting work, books and other publications please visit: www.kumpania.co.uk Dr Roderic Gray has over 20 years’ experience as a management coach, consultant and trainer. Roderic Gray He lectures on university management and HR courses and supervises organisational research at doctoral level in the UK and abroad. His books are to be found in university and public libraries around the world.