Coaching is the development of a person’s skills and knowledge so that job performance, and enjoyment of the role improves. It involves a sharing partnership in which both parties support each other. Both parties are equal and learn through discussion, questioning, and problem-solving.
Coaching is a sharing of ideas and experiences between equals. It is an attempt to work things out for oneself with the support of a coach. The coach does not need to be an expert in the subject or area of the coachee’s concern but does need to have a sense of what coaching demands. A good coach has or can develop qualities which can help someone else face and change situations which are not working, and for this reason a good coach is optimistic and non-judgemental. The use of the word ‘problem’ is in itself problematic, suggesting that people who are coached are those with difficulties. This is the wrong approach to coaching, as it is more like Joni Mitchell’s assertion that:
It seems we all live so close to that line
and so far from satisfaction
McNiff puts this into context when she speaks of professionals as ‘living contradictions’. We know the ideals of our jobs but sometimes we just need to step back and ask ourselves how closely are we living to those ideals, and what steps can we put in place to make ourselves even more effective. Coaching can help with this process. A good coach can make a difference, especially if they:
- create agreement
- support through questioning the creation of an action plan
- observe lessons or meetings and provide feedback and questions to take things forward
- provide unconditional and non-judgmental support through positive regard
- help evaluate the outcomes of the process, using objective judgements wherever possible, to make sure that the coachee is achieving goals
|‘Coaching is about sharing ideas and experiences with equals in an attempt to work things out for oneself.’|
Coaching is a demanding process and needs time and attentiveness.
Despite definitions, people often ask but what does that look like in practice? Coaching is not about:
- providing the lacking expertise
- telling people what to do
- giving people their desired goals and outcomes from the start
Instead, coaching is about helping people come up with their own solutions to questions which they pose themselves. In long or changing careers, people have a wide-range of needs, and in order to allow individuals to continue growing as reflective practitioners, institutions need to support staff through changes. Traditionally, new members of staff have had mentoring support in order to face the first year of work, but generally, most staff have had few opportunities to seek sustained support in their complex careers. This picture is gradually changing as institutions realise the importance of staff gaining job and life satisfaction, through having access to coaching or/and mentoring as careers unfold. Employees, in any workplace, are at different levels of experience and at different stages in their professional journeys
|Needs of Staff||Intention|
|• Those who are experienced need to reframe experience, re-kindle enthusiasm, have renewed interest and need coaching. [paired or triads] |
• Those new to a role benefit from a coach who will question and listen in order to be a critical friend and sounding board.
· Trainees and those learning a new skill benefit from direct mentoring
The qualities which make a good coach are those which often pre-determine excellent teaching. They include:
- establishing good relationships and rapport
- listening carefully and using intuition
- asking well-chosen and open questions
- giving meaningful and supportive feedback.
There is something else. A good coach is an optimist who believes that progress can be made and believes in people. Whatever is happening in the coach’s life, in a coaching session, the coach is happy, caring and believes in the other person. The funny thing is that even though we may be faking it for the cameras as it were, before long that attitude is what we feel by the end of the meeting.