Coaching has become a fad that many leaders and managers still do not fully understand. Yet, when practiced with skill it can have a huge and positive effect on the performance of people in organizations.
Most high performance teams and companies use the principle of coaching. Yet, even today the skills and practice of coaching are much misunderstood by many people.
Put in its simplest form, it is an exercise in collaborative interaction, involving the building of trust, the use of empowering (solution focused) questions, empathic listening and the honest and open sharing of views.
If practiced effectively, it will not only to generate new options for tackling problems but also to reinforce what is working well.
But, coaching should not be seen as a quick fix solution to problems. It takes time but it is a key ingredient of change in culture. Many organizations, particularly those who are owned and led by entrepreneurial people - often with a very direct, telling style - spend much of their time dealing with problems and not learning. This in turn limits the time and energy the leader has to address the key behavioural and performance issues that will ultimately determine the future of the company.
By adopting a coaching style to empower and develop staff, leaders find that not only are staff prepared to take more responsibility, but they will work together more effectively, be more satisfied in their work and more likely to stay with the organisation in the long term.
Coaching may be delivered by leaders or managers within a company or by external consultants. External coaches may be more appropriate at very senior level to address business and strategic problems, or to train internal coaches but most organisations will not perform at their best without coaching.
For most organizations the traditional command and control style of management is a route to organizational suicide in the current climate of rapid change in both technology and attitudes to work when the need to secure the discretionary effort of people has never been greater.
To coach effectively, you need to:
- build and maintain rapport with the person being coached
- be present and focused solely on the person being coached and the process (not easy but imperative)
- be curious rather than judgmental
- ask questions that focus on the solution rather than the problem
- listen to the answers given (often for what is not said)
- be observant
- give effective feedback
The coaching approach encourages continuous learning, stimulates creativity and builds a climate of trust and respect for the individual. Investment in coaching is enlightened self interest as a culture where individuals feel genuinely empowered and accept ownership and responsibility for their own performance can encourage the delivery of superior performance and results.