Ordinary people achieve eaxtraordinary results in business. For many people these results are achieved through and with the support of coaching. The term coaching has been around in business for much of the last decade, and yet still has varied interpretations.
Simply defined, coaching is one person guiding another through a process, leading to performance enhancement. The applications can vary… support to achieve a specific project, helping an individual to do better what they already do well, or developing a skill they don't yet possess.
What is Coaching?
Coaching focuses on future possibilities and utilises learning from past experiences. Coaching is more about how things are done, rather than what things are done. It is about unlocking a person's potential and maximising their performance. It is about helping people to discover answers for themselves rather than advising.
Coaching works on resolving problems below the level where they occur. For example, beliefs and values drive behaviours and beliefs and values come from our identity. Therefore, working with a problem that manifests itself at the level of behaviour, means the coach working with you at the level of beliefs and values. It is like peeling away the top layers of an onion to discover that the problem lies at the core. Coaching done well is about working at the core, which resolves not only the presenting problem but also problems which at the time are not even manifesting themselves yet.
Coaching is about building a relationship which is based on choices rather than advice. For Prydale, coaching is holistic, it takes into account the whole person and the complete range of issues which require resolution or improvement. Coaching is a way of thinking, a way of being, and a way of accelerating development.
Why should organisations use coaching?
Coaching is a lever for unleashing potential! A tool for unlocking performance! An approach to change! It can be used to enhance the performance of the coachees beyond their dreams. Once that performance is unleashed, that automatically means change in thinking, doing and acting.
Many successful companies today are going through continuous change, which results in greater ownership for employees. They take responsibility for their own functions, which opens their thinking to new and more effective ways of working. In companies such as IBM and Federal Express, for example, coaching supports new thinking, which leads to a continuous improvement change process.
Focused coaching can and does improve performance in individuals, teams and the organisation itself. Over the last three years there has been widespread growth of interest in one to one coaching, with individuals recognising the benefits that this approach can bring to their own performance and success.
Company Directors and Senior Management
Due to the pace of change, directors and senior managers may find themselves working outside their area of knowledge, comfort and influence - sometimes operating in unexplored areas. Isolated from others, they are looking for a sounding board - a safe environment outside the organisation. A personal coach who can release blockages and move you towards action and desired results, is paramount to your continued success.
Middle Managers and Teams
More and more requests for coaching are coming from managers or teams who are stuck in a double bind. On the one hand, their job description requires them to work in a particular way - to have a set of operating values which support their approach to working. On the other hand, their immediate seniors, or their organisation, have opposing behaviours and values, therefore offering little support. In this situation a coach can help move teams or managers forward, developing patterns or strategies which consistently deliver success.
Job Stressed Individuals
The term stress is an umbrella word covering a wide range of factors. Stress levels run high inside many organisations where employees are under great pressure to produce results. Stressors in the work place include situations such as insufficient support or resources, lack of recognition, conflict of values, change and lack of support within it, too much or even too little work.
Working with stress through effective coaching is about changing beliefs and behaviours - releasing fears and other issues which are holding individuals back. "If you always do what you have always done, you'll always get what you've always got"!
These organisations need support if they are to be learning organisations. The learning development and change that follows, requires support. Often managers have no time or energy left to offer that support. People in this kind of organisation are expected to take responsibility for their own learning. A supportive outsider who understands the way organisations, teams and individuals work or don't work is key to the success of learning organisations.
When can coaching be used?
Taking into account the philosophies outlined above, coaching can be used in many situations, including:
- Motivating staff
- Building teams
- Performance enhancement
- Building relationships
- Resolving personal issues
- Developing individuals
- Accelerating/enhancing learning