Coaching and development Abstract Becoming an effective leader is about more than gaining experience and developing appropriate skills. It is also a developmental journey to increasingly complex world views which create new options for effective leadership. We look at the different stages through which leaders can pass as they travel on this journey of development and how these different stages evoke different coaching interventions. We relate this journey to our Renewal model. We also reflect on the implications of our model for coaching practice.
Introduction Mentoring and Coaching Coaching and mentoring are both ‘helping’ activities, employed either as distinct interventions or together as part of a package of personal development, that enable individuals to achieve their full potential. Mentoring is a process that focuses specifically on providing guidance, direction, and career advice. Coaching’s primary emphasis is on maximizing people’s potential by working on their perceptions, self-confidence and creative drive. Here is a table of distinct differences between the two: Mentoring| Coaching|
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Focus is on career and personal development| Focus is generally on development/issues at work| Agenda is set by the protege with the mentor providing support and guidance to prepare them for future roles| The agenda is focused on achieving specific, immediate goals| Ongoing relationship that can last for a long period of time| Relationship generally has a set duration| Can be more informal and meetings can take place as and when the protege needs some advice, guidance or support| Generally more structured in nature and meetings are scheduled on a regular basis| More long-term and takes a broader view of the person| Short-term (sometimes time-bounded) and focused on specific development areas/issues| Mentor is usually more experienced and qualified than the protege.
Often a senior person in the organization who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities| Coaching is generally not performed on the basis that the coach needs to have direct experience of their coachee’s formal occupational role, unless the coaching is specific and skills-focused| Mentoring and Coaching programs can be either a standalone program or part of a training and development program within an organization. CoachingCoaching is a commonly used term in the media, sports and business world. It is also a much misunderstood field with a diverse range of approaches. One of the reasons there is a lot of confusion around the term ‘coaching’ is simply how broad the field is.
Many people try to ‘define’ coaching without realising that coaching is in fact as broad a concept as say ‘training’. Coaching is a way of speeding up how people learn. It is a learning tool. A method for changing behaviour. This behaviour can be in any field. You can coach someone in sport, in their personal life, in their relationships, in their performance in the workplace, in their studies, in the arts, in how they think, play, feel, you name it. You can coach children to walk, you can coach teenagers to drive a car and you can coach retired people to think differently about their final years. Coaching is simply a way of changing (hopefully improving) the way people apply themselves to any situation.
It is useful therefore to think of coaching as only half the story. Trying to understand what ‘training’ is could be very challenging – you are better to know what type of training – for example are you talking about personal training, corporate training or sales training. It’s the same with coaching. There is small business coaching, executive coaching, life coaching, maths coaching, sales coaching and workplace coaching. A reason for the confusion in this field is the number of approaches there are to coaching and thus people perceive coaching as being many different things. One of the most common perceptions of coaching is the team sports coach, largely due to how much media these coaches get.
As a result a common perception of coaching is a tough approach, like the football coach who is there to provide the ‘tough love’, to help them set goals, get focused, choose the ‘play for the day’ and of course deliver the all important locker room motivational rave. This is one quite valid and common type of coaching, though it is unlikely to be useful in the workplace in a sustainable way. A second common perception of coaching is the coach as director, the person who says how things need to be done, like the theatre director as coach, tennis coach or driving school instructor. Again these ideas are in common usage so they tend to be dominant in people’s minds.
The perception is that the coach knows a lot of the detail of how the coachee needs to perform, and is there to show them how, to direct them, to observe what they do wrong and help them improve. Again there is an important role for this type of coaching, however it is not the most useful template for the workplace. The coach as expert is too similar to a directive management style. It can be too easy for the coach in the organisation to impart knowledge and catch people doing things wrong, instead of the more effective means of facilitating learning available through other styles of coaching. A third common perception is that of the counsellor. Many people see the coach as the therapist, someone to tell your problems to that will help you work them all out.
This type of coach exists, and while there is a place for support people inside organisations, The other perception of coaching is someone who’s often not thought of as a coach. It’s that manager, friend or colleague we once had, someone who was such a useful sounding board, someone who helped us to really go for big goals and stretch ourselves, who believed in us and gave us lots of encouragement and helped us to think through things more clearly. One can see from all this just how broad coaching is, and the importance of clear communication when discussing coaching so that people are all talking about the same thing. In a workplace context, it is vital that an organisation defines it’s own coaching model very clearly so that managers are more comfortable with learning the skills.
It can be too easy for managers to confuse it with mentoring, counselling or even managing and therefore not engage in the process of learning effective coaching skills. Coaching is a rapidly growing area of professional practice, widely accepted in government and corporate sectors, where coaching positions are created within human resources departments and external coaches are engaged to work with executives. However, coaching is still an emerging field and there is a level of confusion about the industry: about the range of coaching services provided, about how coaching works and about the qualifications of coaches. Coaches working in organizations, as opposed to
Business Coaches or Life Coaches, aim to improve the skills, performance or personal capacities of managers. Here are some examples of areas in which coaches help clients. Coaching can assist clients to: * improve the performance of their staffs * accept the responsibilities of leadership and develop those skills * relate better with people – staffs, clients, superiors * communicate more effectively * manage their time * develop confidence to apply for higher responsibility. Coaching starts with a respectful relationship – valuing the person and their skills. A goal and an action plan are developed cooperatively, acknowledging skills, resources and needs.
The coach builds on the client’s existing strengths: asking questions and using a variety of coaching tools to help the client discover those strengths, clarify their own situation, identify their own solutions and plan a path that suits their needs. The coach then supports the client as they progress, helping them to reflect on decisions made or actions taken, and challenging for accountability and higher achievement. Questions are often asked about the coach’s expertise and experience; the qualifications of coaches needed for a particular engagement. One key challenge is that unlike other forms of education, for lawyers, teachers, doctors or managers that claim a distinct body of professional knowledge as a base, coaching draws upon knowledge from multiple disciplines including psychology, business principles, education and the social sciences.
Coaches working in an organisation usually will be able to draw on the knowledge, skills and experience from more than one of these fields. They will also have additional training in coaching skills from a professional coaching school and will probably have earned accreditation from a professional coaching association. The Power of CoachingCoaching initially became more familiar as a profession with the images of the Coach working with a sports team. Coaching is about enabling an individual to move from where they are now to where they want to be. Coaching is now one of the key concepts in leadership and management and increasing numbers of people who truly want to be successful are receiving Coaching.
Coaching Creates a Level Playing FieldAs a leadership style, coaching is used when the members of a group or team are competent and motivated, but do not have an idea of the long-term goals of an organization. This involves two different levels of coaching; team and individual. Team coaching enables team members to work together. In a group of individuals, not everyone may have the same level of competence and commitment to a goal. A group may be a mix of highly competent and moderately competent individuals with varying degrees of commitment to the team goals. These differences can become a cause of friction among the members of the team with resentment about differing levels of contribution appearing.
The leader who coaches helps the team members level their expectations. In addition the coaching leader is able to manage differing perspectives so that the common goal succeeds over personal goals and interests. In a large organization, leaders need to work to align the personal values and goals of the individuals within the organization with those of the organization so that long-term or strategic directions can be pursued. Coaching Builds up Confidence and CompetenceIndividual coaching is an example of situational leadership at work. The leader who coaches works one-on-one with individuals building up their confidence by affirming good performance during regular feedbacks.
They also increase individual competence by helping people assess their strengths and weaknesses to facilitate career planning and professional development. Depending on the individual’s level of competence and commitment, a leader may exercise more coaching behaviour for the less-experienced members. Usually, this happens in the case of new team members. The individual’s direct manager gives more defined tasks and holds regular feedback sessions with the new member of staff. Over time they will gradually lessen the amount of directive coaching and move along the coaching continuum towards consultative coaching as the individual’s competence and confidence increase.
Coaching Promotes Individual and Team ExcellenceExcellence is a product of habitual good practice. Holding regular coaching oriented meetings and providing constructive feedback is incredibly important in helping to establish good habits. In a coached team individuals will develop the habit of constantly assessing themselves for their strengths and areas for improvement that they themselves perceive what knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to acquire to attain team goals. In the process, not only do they find themselves empowered to examine their behaviours but they attain individual excellence as well. An excellent analogy or example is the Orchestra: in which each member plays a different instrument.
In order to achieve harmony of music from the different instruments, individuals will ensure that they play their part in the piece to the very best of their ability, aside from practicing as an Orchestra. Consequently, as well as performing in a team they improve individually as an instrument player. Coaching Develops High Commitment to Common GoalsA leader who coaches works to balance the attainment of immediate targets with long-term goals towards the vision of the organization. With the alignment of personal goals with organizational or team goals, the personal interests are also kept in balance so that they do not distract from the team purpose and goals.
By constantly communicating the vision through formal and informal conversations, the team members are inspired and motivated. Setting short-term team goals aligned with organizational goals and making an action plan to attain these goals can help sustain the increased motivation and commitment to common goals of the members. Coaching Produces Valuable LeadersLeadership by example is important in coaching. A leader who professes to follow a coaching approach will soon lose credibility if they do not practice what they preach. This means that they should be well organized, highly competent is their field, communicate openly and encourage feedback, and have a clear idea of the organization’s vision-mission-goals.
By working with leaders who coach individuals they can acquire the same good practices and attitudes they see modelled by their leader/manager. This in turn will enable them to become coaches themselves. If an individual experiences good coaching, they are most likely to do the same things when entrusted with formal leadership roles. | | | | | | Choosing the Right Coach for Your Employees A coaching program can have any number of purposes. It may be to help frontline employees with their immediate job needs and technical skills. Or it may be to help develop managerial or leadership skills. The skills requiring development may be for a current or for a future role.
Once one has decided why their coaching program exists and what they want to achieve from it, the next question revolves around who will take on this important role. the coach may be internal or external to your organization. They may be someone who has an existing working relationship with the employees. Choosing the right coach for your situation will be a crucial determinant of whether your program succeeds. What are your options and what are the benefits and disbenefits of each? Manager: With this option, one can include anyone who is responsible for the work of other employees and sits higher in the organization chart than those individuals.
Such people include the person to whom the employee reports directly (team leader, foreman, supervisor, etc), people higher up within the same reporting line (manager’s manager, director, etc) and people higher up, but within another reporting line (immediate manager’s peer, etc). Where the coaching is of a more technical nature, choosing the immediate manager can be an effective choice –provided that the manager is very conversant with the skills in question. Selecting the immediate manager into the coaching role can have one or more of these distinct advantages: It can cement a stronger working relationship between the manager and employee. The manager is in the best position to convey the exact job requirements and to give accurate performance feedback.
It can prod resistant managers to more whole-heartedly bring about needed workplace changes. For situations where the coaching is for professional, interpersonal or leadership skills, choosing a manager higher up the organization’s tree or on a sideways branch may be more prudent. Choosing a coach that is not in day-to-day contact with the individuals may afford a greater level of objectivity. A second benefit worth considering is the greater levels of trust and confidentiality that the increased distance brings. Trainer: Selecting a trainer as your coach is a clear choice if your coaching program is meant to be integral with a training course you are running.
The course trainer can serve as a highly effective bridge between the training program content and the participants’ application of the skills on the job. Trainers have the dual advantage of ready expertise in the skills being transferred and familiarity with the participants’ background, learning styles, and so on. You will still be wise to verify the trainer’s depth of coaching skills. Some trainers are excellent at putting on a performance and being center stage, but fall down when they need to put the participant at the center. Subject Matter Expert: Where the trainer calls in subject matter experts and the employee’s manager does not possess the necessary expertise, a third option is to use the subject matter expert as the coach.
This option is also a possibility in cases where the manager and trainer are not available to fulfill a coaching role. This option may work well where the primary subject of the coaching program is deep technical skills, such as engineering or information systems. As with using trainers as coaches, be sure that the subject matter expert possesses the necessary coaching skills. In addition, ensure that they have sufficient resources and time to give credit to the role. Internal Employee: Managers, trainers and subject matter experts acting as coaches are usually employees of the target organization. However, one may select a coach from outside the organization. Keeping the coach as an internal resource can have distinct advantages.
These benefits may include: * Program costs are reduced as employee expenses are already accounted for in recurring budget expenditure. * Time is not wasted familiarizing the coach with the organizational context for the coaching and developing new relationships. * Familiarity with the organization and its people allows the coach to get things done more quickly. External Consultant or Contractor: Sometimes those features that make for a good internal coach can turn out to be handicaps. Here are some characteristics of an external coach that may tip the balance of choice in their favor. * The initial unfamiliarity with the employees may lead to greater objectivity. They may have played a part in the change or training program, giving them a head start. * Having no previous experience with the organization, they are more immune from power plays and favoritism * These added benefits will, of course, come with a cost as external coaches are not on the organization’s payroll. Each program is different, so you will need to weigh up the pros and cons of using an external coach for your situation. Peers: An employee’s peers are those people whose role is at the same level in an organization. An employee’s peer can reside within the same organization or in a different organization, or even in a different industry. Choosing peers s coaches may seem unconventional and perhaps even misguided. Even though this type of coaching relationship may lack the formality of the usual coach-employee relationship, learning opportunities amongst peers happen every day in every way. Here are some options for facilitating this kind of peer-to-peer learning. * Set up lunchtime sessions in which employees take turns to speak on a work topic or invite an outside speaker. * Encourage employees working within the same group to take time out to review a segment from a recent training course and to discuss a related work issue. * Actively support the use of company-, industry- and profession-wide forums and chat rooms. Set up a corporate wiki and encourage contributions to external wikis on relevant subjects. * Promote attendance at special interest group meetings and seminars run by local professional associations. * Search out Communities of Practice (CoP) in the relevant subject area that promote learning for its members using some of the above methods. In choosing the right coach, one has a number of choices. The choice is not necessarily limited to one option either. The more opportunities you provide for your employees to experience worthwhile coaching interactions, the better they will be. Providing more and different points of contact helps overcome the work and personal constraints limiting each employee.
Some employees may not be able to attend lunchtime sessions or work with a coach after hours. These same employees may benefit from contributing to forums or a wiki. Making available multiple options also caters to employees varying learning styles. This does not mean that one needs to provide more than one workplace coach per employee. Setting up a message board or paying for professional memberships can help provide this expanded array of options. As you think about who will fulfill the coaching role and what other coaching opportunities you will provide your employees, consider also the other key factors that make for a successful coaching program.
Ensure that the coach is skilled in coaching and has the necessary resources and time available. Set up a coaching schedule and provide training in coaching skills if needed. Also, draw up coaching guidelines that explain the mutual rights and responsibilities of coaches and those being coached. Everyone should be clear about how the coaching program will work. Finally, do the work upfront to settle on measures of success for the program –and then evaluate how the program measured up to the objectives. With the right choice of coach and a well designed coaching environment, one can look forward to achieving your coaching goals. Making better coaches:
Most organizations do not provide coaching training for their managers on the assumption that a) Managers should just know how to coach b) Coaching is synonymous with management so no unique coaching skills are required c) Coaching is not really important as a management tool. Following can be few ways through which effective coaching can be improved by defining the role of the coach (manager): According to this diagram, the coach (manager) has to try and get the employees on the upper right hand scale, being high in performance, as well as potential, making them a STAR EMPLOYEE. This can be done when the coach understands his/her role, understands the subordinates weaknesses, strengths, motivation factors and so on.
Here are 5 tips for effective boss-coaching that can add value to your team: Rate all of your employees on a 9-block grid with the vertical axis being “Potential” and the horizontal axis being “Performance. ” Rate each employee’s potential from High Potential (top block) to Moderate Potential (middle block) and Low Potential (bottom block). Now take these same employees and move them into the appropriate performance blocks with the far right block being High Performance, the middle block being Good Performance and the far left block being Needs Improvement. You now have a snapshot of performance and potential for all of your direct reports as a starting point.
Using the 9-block analysis, focus your coaching time and effort on those with High and Moderate Potential where performance is at least good. Where performance Needs Improvement, work to either improve performance through a performance action plan or work with HR to outplace the employee. Where performance is high but potential is Low, use these employees as trainers and mentors of others. Use ad hoc “coachable moments” for those employees who will be coached. Coachable moments are those events that you observe where performance was notable deserving recognition and reinforcement, and those where performance was less than optimal that could serve as a lesson for the future.
Find time to have a “Just Things” meeting with your coachable employees at least bi-weekly. You do not need a specific agenda for these meetings as the purpose is to simply discuss things –anything – that is on your mind or the employee’s. Typically the conversation will center on specific work issues (although sometimes personal issues that impact work can and should be discussed). Here you are seeking to learn what the employee needs from you or others to be successful, and then exploring ideas and means for success. It is less about “telling” and more about exploring options and alternatives. Brainstorming is a powerful coaching tool so don’t be afraid to explore the “what ifs” with your employees.
While specific work issues and projects will often take center stage during these meetings, you will want to extrapolate beyond the immediate issues to provide insights for future situations, problems and opportunities that will undoubtedly arise. This is where professional growth comes from. Know Your Role: When engaging in coaching employees it is important to understand and clarify your role. Although there are many similarities, a boss, a coach, and a boss coaching employees have different roles: The Boss = Sponsor-Mandates goals and holds others accountable for results (internal to organization) The Coach = Change Agent-Helps people increase their skills to achieve the results (typically external to organization).
The Boss-Coach = both Mandates the goals and acts as change agent to help people develop the ability to accomplish these goals (internal to organization) Common Pitfalls of the Boss-Coach: Beware some of the common pitfalls of the dual Boss-Coach role such as: Two Important Tasks When Coaching: According to Mary Beth O’Neil, author of Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart, there are separate and sequential tasks a boss-coach needs to accomplish with any employee: Task 1: Name performance expectations and ensure employee commitment to them. Clear expectations should be behaviorally specific i. e. what, by whom, when. Task 2: Coach and develop employees to accomplish expectations. Once you have clarified expectations offer coaching as a way to accomplish these expectations. Offering coaching as an option puts the employee’s motivation where it belongs, with her. Steps to Coaching Employees for Success: Once an employee commits to coaching the boss-coach engages in the following steps: 1. ontracting. 2. Action Planning 3. Live-Action Coaching 4. Debriefing-Evaluation of coaching process Step I-Contracting: Partner with the coachee, familiarize yourself with her challenges, test coachee’s ability to own her part of the issue and start giving immediate feedback. Establish a contract that outlines specific content, duration of coaching, sequence of meetings, goals, and how they will be measured. Specify expectations of both parties i. e. reporting hierarchies. Step II-Action Planning: During this phase move the coachee to specifics. Help her identify her side of the pattern and steps that she needs to take to improve her performance.
Once a contract has been established plan specifically how it will be executed. With the employee, create specific action items with due dates. Step III- Coaching Sessions: Meet with the coachee on a regular basis (once a week is recommended) to ensure that the plan is being followed and to help keep the employee on track. I recommend Live-Action Coaching*, which allows you to observe a coachee in live action with her colleagues and provide immediate feedback. As a manager you possess a unique advantage because you are already internal and in a position to observe. Live action coaching may also entail giving an employee feedback on an interaction you are having with them.
Assume that how they interact with you carries over to other working relationships so who better to give them feedback than someone who is being affected by his or her behavior. When engaging in Live-Action coaching ensure the structure of the sessions, follow the coachee’s goals, foster pattern breaking, and maintain alignment in the organizational system-by honoring the coachee’s and your role in the system. Step IV-Debriefing: After the agreed upon coaching contract has been fulfilled you must debrief with your employee regarding the process of coaching. Assess whether or not coaching was effective, were her goals met? Discuss the coachee’s strengths and challenges. Identify key recurring patterns, assess the alignment of roles, and plan the coachee’s next steps.
Set a tone of openness by being open to feedback on your performance first. When coaching employees keep in mind some of the characteristics that make good coaching so effective: • Involves personal, one-on-one training or teaching • usually results from direct observation of behavior or specific facts • Can be targeted to a specific task or assignment • is interactive • Suggests a concerned, friendly, caring interest • Offers encouragement and support • doesn’t rush to judgment or criticism If you clarify your role, avoid the pitfalls of having a dual role, you can be on the road to successful coaching. Improve Your Managerial Skills through Management Training:
Perhaps you are a manager who finds it difficult to meet deadlines, frequently faced with hard-to-attain increasing targets, and have non-creative staff; then it is likely that the problem is in your management abilities and not in your staff or anyone else. Ways by which you can improve your managerial skills and become a better manager: Learn how to communicate effectively with your staff or subordinates. This way, they will clearly know exactly what you require from them at each point in time, and will also be clear on what to expect from you. You will also get to know the most effective and suitable communication method for a given situation, whether it is email, phone call, or a face to face contact. You will work towards making your staff more creative or productive. What is the best way to achieve it? Is it by coercion, giving orders, or by denying them their privileges?
Or are you going to look for better ways to get them into productive mode? Perhaps you have productive staff, but what about their efficiency level? Maybe you can achieve productiveness in your workers by eliminating red tape, including other things that tend to retard their productive rate. Have you thought about time management enhancements? How is each day spent, can you ascertain a day that is well spent? Is it necessary to be physically present in those meetings by travelling? Is it necessary to read mails as soon as they get to your inbox? What portion of your workload can you practically delegate? How can you rate your people skills? Are you a manager who knows how to handle criticism?
What is the conception of your workers about you? How well and regular do you communicate with the various departments, clients, or suppliers to help hasten processes and make things less burdensome to everyone concerned? To what extent do you value staff training? Is it important for your workers to be well acquainted with the job details prior to commencing? What they should do with every change of trend in the industry and applicable technologies? How do you take advantage of them? What is the level of your openness to new ideas and advice from your subordinates? Did you venture to implement any plan, and what ways can you make such plans effective?
Have you thought about practically coming down to the level of your staff in order to find out their work challenges by working with them? How well can you identify and handle staff issues such as being late to work? Is lateness of your staff associated with issues at home, or is it a mere odd habit? How would you handle those who cannot just get on? Are you taking the best advantage of applicable technologies? How well do you use the technologies for achieving effective communication with people in different countries, or in connecting with different offices within your organization? How far can you employ technology in managing or automating the production line?
Are your field-based staff equipped with the applicable technologies such as smart-phones and laptops? The answer to all these issues lies in taking a professional management training course. Invest in a management training course and learn a wide range of skills. It doesn’t matter how long you have occupied a managerial position, you will learn new skills that will help improve your managerial skills greatly, and help you become a better manager. Developing subordinates: Step 1 – Observe and record leadership actions * All acts (verbal and nonverbal), appearances, and actions are valid opportunities for assessment * Ensure observations are complete * Observations must be objective * Note actions NOT taken.
They are equally important * Record behaviors in chronological sequence * Do not allow winning, losing, or mission accomplishment to influence recorded behaviors Step 2 – Compare what you see to performance indicators; classify the observations to determine if the behavior exceeds, meets, or fails to meet the standard Step 3 – Coach the subordinates – tell the subordinates what you saw and give them a chance to assess themselves. * Be knowledgeable of the leadership dimensions * Be able to communicate your thoughts * Be trustworthy * Be positive * You are a facilitator; you may not have all the right answers Step 4 – Conduct developmental counseling