Coaching? Do I Need this?

 Coaching has been around long enough that most people have at least heard about it, though they may or may not have had the experience of coaching.  What are the advantages of Coaching? The # 1 of the real advantages of this type of service is it’s fast and relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional forms of medicine. It’s amazing how many varieties of coaching have developed.

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What is Coaching?

So what is Coaching? Coaching is a process that enables individuals, couples and group clients to achieve their full potential. Coaching is also the vehicle for assessment, analysis, reflection, and action that ultimately enables the client to achieve success in one or more areas of their life or work. It is important to note that Coaching methods and Therapeutic methods are vastly different, as in the onus of responsibility for the success of the Coaching relationship is on the Coaching client.

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How does Coaching work?

The method of Coaching can vary from person to person, but in general, the Coaching method is a weekly or monthly meeting (in person or through electronic media) to establish the framework of the Coaching relationship, set goals, expectations and to set out to accomplish those goals or expectations in the most effective time frame possible. Some types of coaching are very specific which have a beginning, middle, and end; others are more long-term stretching into months or years.

What are the benefits of Coaching?

The Client can expect these benefits from coaching:

  • Exploration of the client(s) needs, motivations, desires, skills, and thought processes to assist the client(s)individual in making real, lasting permanent change.
  • Use of questioning techniques to facilitate client'(s) own thought processes in order to identify solutions and actions rather than takes a wholly directive approach
  • Support in the client(s) skills in setting appropriate goals and methods of assessing progress in relation to these goals
  • Observation, listening and the asking of questions to understand the client'(s) situation
  • Creative application of tools and techniques which may include one-to-one training, facilitating, counseling & networking.
  • Encouragement to commit to actions and the development of lasting personal growth & change.
  • Unconditional positive regard for the client(s), which means that the coach is at all times supportive and non-judgmental of the client, their views, lifestyle, and aspirations.
  • Ensure that the client(s) develop personal competencies and do not develop unhealthy dependencies on the coaching or mentoring relationship.
  • Evaluation of the outcomes of the process, using objective measures wherever possible to ensure the relationship is successful and the client(s) is achieving their personal goals.
  • Encourage client(s) to continually access and improve competencies and to develop new developmental alliances where necessary to achieve their goals.
  • Work within the client(s) area(s) of personal competence.
  • Learn and master the qualifications and experience in the areas that skills-transfer coaching is offered.
  • Assurance that the client(s) receives the appropriate level of service and that programs are neither too short, nor too long.

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Different Types of Coaching?

  • Business Coaching

    Business coaching is always conducted within the constraints placed on the individual or group to meet organizational goals, expand the business, and provide an environment that is secure from employees or non-essential members of the decision processes.

  • One-on-One Coaching for Executives and Small Business Owners

    One to one coaching is increasingly being recognized as the way for organizations to improve Executives for developing new skills, improving performance, overcoming issues, and preparing for advancement. Coaching at the executive level and tied to organization goals, often results in improved business results. Executive coaching is often delivered by coaches operating from outside the organization whose services are requested for an agreed duration or number of coaching sessions.

  • Personal/Life Coaching

    The personal/life coach helps individuals gain awareness of and clarify their personal goals and priorities, better understand their thoughts, feelings, and options, and take appropriate actions to change their lives, accomplish their goals, and feel more fulfilled.

  • Career Coaching

    The career coach helps the client(s) identify what they want and need from their career, then make decisions and take the needed actions to accomplish their career objectives in balance with the other parts of their lives. This may also fall into the realm of transition coaching. Sometimes, in order, to achieve the client(s) goals a different career or additional education may be part of the coaching process.

  • Group Coaching

    Group coaches work with individuals in groups. The focus can range from leadership development to career development, stress management to team building. Group coaching combines the benefits of individual coaching with the resources of groups. Individuals learn from each other and the interactions that take place within the group setting.

  • Performance Coaching

    Performance coaches help a client(s) at all levels better understand the requirements of their jobs, the competencies needed to fulfill those requirements, any gaps in their current performance, and opportunities to improve performance. Coaches then work with the employees, their bosses, and others in their work to help the employees fill performance gaps and develop plans for further professional development.

  • Relationship Coaching

    The relationship coach helps two or more people to form, change, or improve their interactions and communication. The context can be work, personal, or other settings. This can also fall under the realm of transition coaching.

  • High-Potential or Developmental Coaching

    The coach works with organizations to develop the potential of individuals who have been identified as key to the organization’s future or are part of the organization’s succession plan. The focus of the coaching may include assessment, competency development, or assistance planning and implementing strategic projects.

  • Coaching to Provide Feedback Debriefing and Development Planning

    Organizations that use assessment or 360 feedback processes often utilize coaches to help employees interpret the results of their assessments and feedback. In addition, coaches work with individuals to make career decisions and establish professional development plans based on feedback, assessment results, and other relevant data.

  • Targeted Behavioral Coaching

    Coaches who provide targeted behavioral coaching help individuals to change specific behaviors or habits or learn new, more effective ways to work and interact with others. This type of coaching often helps individuals who are otherwise very successful in their current jobs or are taking on new responsibilities that require a change in specific behaviors.

  • Legacy Coaching

    The legacy coach helps leaders who are retiring from a key role to decide on the legacy they would like to leave behind. The coach also provides counsel on transitioning out of the leadership role.

  • Succession Coaching

    The succession coach helps assess potential candidates for senior management positions and prepares them for promotion to more senior roles. This type of coaching may be used in any organization that is experiencing growth or turnover in its leadership ranks. It is especially helpful for family businesses to maintain the viability of the firm. Since assessment is often part of this intervention, clear expectations and ground rules for confidentiality are essential. It may be necessary for some companies to use separate consultants for assessment and coaching.

  • Presentation/Communication Skills Coaching

    This type of coaching helps individuals gain self-awareness about how they are perceived by others and why they are perceived in that way. Clients learn new ways to interact with others. The use of video recording with feedback allows clients to see themselves as others do. The coach helps clients change the way they communicate and influence others by changing their words, how they say those words, and the body language they use to convey their intended messages.

  • Team Coaching

    One or more team coaches work with the leader and members of a team to establish their team mission, vision, strategy, and rules of engagement with one another. The team leader and members may be coached individually to facilitate team meetings and other interactions, build the effectiveness of the group as a high-performance team and achieve team goals.

  • Transition Coaching

    The Transition Coach works with a client(s) in a variety of settings. Jobs end or change, relationships change or end, and people get ill, injured and sometimes die. the coach will sometimes work with an individual or the entire family, business or community depending on the individual needs and context of the transition.

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How do I pick the Right Coach?

Unfortunately, many clients select a coach based on referrals from colleagues, without adequately considering personal needs. The person sponsoring the engagement usually sends a few coaches for interviews and asks the executive to select one based on “fit.” But what does a good fit actually mean, and how do you avoid hiring a coach who feels right but may not challenge you to grow?

Without a greater understanding of what happens in a coaching relationship, it’s difficult to make a fair assessment and pick a good match. As the client, you should do the choosing, but you need some criteria to make the best selection.

A Coach should Achieve Most of the Following:

  • Strike a balance between supporting and challenging you
  • Help create feedback loops with colleagues
  • Assist in clarifying your true strengths, values, and purpose
  • Provide structure in the development process
  • Broaden your perspectives
  • Teach concepts and skills
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Influence how others view you

1. Pick a Coach for Support and Ability to Challenge

People, and particularly executives, are hired for their strengths. We don’t expect them to show uncertainty, express fear or naturally ask for help. Executives who wish to grow, however, must do these very things.

You’re more likely to open up to a coach who creates a safe, confidential environment. Coaches accomplish this in part by demonstrating that they understand you and respect your interests, values, and concerns. This enables you to feel accepted, be honest about your thoughts and feelings, and be more willing to try new behaviors.

But coaches must be more than cheerleaders. They need to provide challenges that motivate you to perform beyond your habitual behaviors and perceptions; confront you directly, yet non-judgmentally, with the impact of your actions; and courageously probe the motives and assumptions underlying your behaviors.

Coaches who lack the capacity or courage to push you out of your comfort zone aren’t doing their jobs. Some learning is achieved only through the discomfort.

Using the Coaching Relationship

Good coaches will use their personal experience with you to teach you about yourself. How you treat your coach reflects how you treat others.

The way you select your coach is significant. Do you see the coach as a subordinate? A vendor or outside consultant? An authority figure whose primary relationship is with your boss? How do gender, race or other personal characteristics influence the way you interact with your coach?

Effective coaches will detect and decipher the subtleties within their clients’ interactions. They will provide feedback on how one’s behavior impacts other relationships and goals.

Pick a coach who can raise issues impartially and show you how your behaviors affect others.

2. Pick a Coach for Feedback Loops

A coach must serve as the conduit for colleagues’ feedback. Your peers will rarely share authentic feedback with you, and a skilled coach can solicit important information in a way that satisfies confidentiality requirements. Clear agreements, established boundaries, and skilled diplomacy is critical.

Your coach should help you develop the skills needed to create relationships in which you can ask for honest feedback on an ongoing basis.

Instead of encouraging dependence, your coach should teach you how to manage your development in the future. After an initial assessment, a good coach shows you how to form links with colleagues and teaches them how to frame useful, specific feedback instead of vague judgments.

Your coach will teach you to ask for feedback and manage the conversation without being defensive. This includes learning how to determine which feedback is relevant and valid, prioritize the issues you need to address and figure out how to handle them.

3. Pick a Coach for Clarifying Values and Purpose

How clearly do you articulate your core purpose, values, and interests?

Skilled coaches help you clarify your developmental, career and life goals. They should also teach you how to sort out your needs, wants, concerns and boundaries in any particular situation, which allows you to become more comfortable and act more consistently when completing goals, even in complex circumstances.

4. Pick a Coach for Structuring the Development Process

Your coach must help you manage each step of the coaching process:

  • Establish a contract
  • Get input from others
  • Review feedback and plan development
  • Hold regular coaching meetings to practice new behaviors
  • Implement behaviors in daily work
  • Assess for results

Many people tend to let coaching sessions slide when urgent work matters arise or they experience an inherent resistance to change. Together, you and your coach will develop a road map that defines goals and keeps the process moving over time.

5. Pick a Coach for Broadening Your Perspectives

Your coach should broaden your perspective by helping you understand and break free of any limiting beliefs and assumptions. A perspective shift may be the most significant factor in changing behavior and results.

A perspective shift can occur when your coach:

  • Provides additional viewpoints
  • Plays the devil’s advocate
  • Looks at situations as others might
  • Asks new questions
  • Offers new approaches

A perspective shift will change your assumptions, expand the information you find useful, alter how you perform key skills and enhance your ability to create organizational value.

6. Pick a Coach for Teaching New Concepts and Skills

You may be so engrossed in your work environment that you’ve never developed a clear understanding of your role. A good coach will help you step back and get a clearer picture of what is—and isn’t—part of your role.

Good coaches present a mental model of what leadership means, what it takes to be effective and the key skills required. They should teach skills relevant to one’s particular situation and assist with implementation in daily interactions.

For example, which of these key leadership skills do you need to learn?

  • Collaboration
  • Expectation management
  • Influencing
  • Conflict resolution
  • Developing others

7. Pick a Coach for Confidentiality

Trust is essential in the coaching relationship. Your coach must effectively navigate risky waters filled with sensitive, confidential information. Because a coach may be engaged with several members of the same organization or team, it’s vital to respect boundaries and maintain confidentiality.

This is not an easy job, and it’s one of the most important skills a good coach acquires with experience. When interviewing prospective coaches, find out how such situations are handled. How have they dealt with similar challenges in the past?

8. Pick for Influencing Others’ Views of You

Behavioral change is not the sole coaching goal. Coaches also help colleagues notice the changes you make, invite them to become involved in your development and possibly change their behavior in relation to you. A qualified, experienced coach can influence others’ views by:

  • Coaching your relationships, not just you
  • Challenging others’ assumptions that a problem resides entirely with you
  • Contracting with key colleagues to determine their desired outcomes of the coaching process and  assessing their willingness to share feedback and participate in conversations
  • Facilitating conversations between you and colleagues to share coaching insights, development plans and new expectations (in both directions)
  • Helping you solicit ongoing feedback on relevant behaviors

If your coach doesn’t raise these points in your initial conversations, make sure they’re included in the coaching process.

Roles a Coach Should Not Play

Coaching methodologies vary widely. Some begin with 360° assessments; others use in-depth interviews. Regardless, your coach should clearly define the process’ start, developmental plan, and conclusion.

A good coach will consciously avoid roles that hinder your ability to take independent action:

  • Cheerleader: Coaches should not give positive reinforcement from the sidelines for everything you do.
  • Therapist: Coaches should not deal strictly with your personal adjustment and psychological issues, even if they’re qualified and licensed to do so. Your coach must continually assist you in the context of your organizational performance and business goals.
  • An executor of the Boss’s Wishes: Coaches should do more than force you to conform to a superior’s expectations, even when given an agenda when hired.
  • Shadow Manager: Coaches cannot advise you on business decisions or act on your behalf.
  • One-Sided Advocate: Coaches must look at all viewpoints and resist taking one side.

Two loaded and complex issues often arise during coach selection: good fit and credentials.

Beware of deciding upon the look and feel of a good fit. Effective coaches are adept at personal relationships, and each has a unique style and manner. Be sure to balance feeling comfortable with the person against your need to be challenged as you grow. You must believe a coach can help you change.

As for credentials and training, the executive-coaching field is not associated with traditional career paths or specific educational backgrounds. Most coaches enter the practice after a gradual evolution from roles in related areas.

Coaches may come from internal HR departments and specialize in leadership development or organizational effectiveness. Others have external consulting experience and specialize in organizational change. Some come from the counseling and psychology fields. Many have years of business experience in executive offices, while others are retired CEOs.

What really matters is the coach’s ability to understand and work with individual and organizational dynamics. Make your selection only after you have a solid understanding of the coaching relationship and process.

Need more information or have a few questions? Please contact me