What is coaching?
Coaching is about helping people achieve their full potential in their careers. A lot of people assume that coaching is a form of therapy or counselling which focuses on a person’s inadequacies or deficiencies. Consequently they feel threatened and run a mile, and who could blame them?
But coaching is not about that. It is a positive process whose aim is to help good professionals become even better. It allows individuals to achieve sustainable change and effectiveness in their careers. People come to me for coaching for lots of different reasons, including wanting to:
- achieve a certain career goal within a certain time
- improve/change a relationship with a colleague
- be a better leader/team builder/manager
- resolve irksome issues that block their self-improvement
- deliver effective presentations or pitches
- grow their practice with confidence
- plan their next career move
- deal with issues surrounding redundancy or retirement
So how does coaching work?
In its purest form the coach does not give advice. The person being coached sets the agenda. The coach helps the client build on their own resourcefulness and desire to change by asking pertinent questions and allowing them to find solutions and make their own decisions based on what will work for them.
Before any engagement begins I ensure that both the client and I have a clear understanding of what is needed, what the client expects and what I am able to deliver. I encourage regular feedback and open communication throughout the course of any project.
Each coaching session is usually one and a half to two hours long, and the average coaching programme is 6 sessions spread over 4-6 months.
Coaching can be a relatively speedy process, but it is not a quick fix. The duration of the coaching contract can vary depending on what issues are being addressed. There are times, for example, when it may be appropriate for the coach to offer suggestions and to provide more general support over a longer period of time where the client needs it. This often happens in relation to career development issues where, after the initial sessions, the client and coach may meet once every three months or so for a review. In such a case coaching becomes more akin to mentoring or, as one coaching guru puts it, acting as a “career friend.”
My approach to coaching
Coaching is predicated on the assumption that the person being coached wants to change and has the resourcefulness within them to affect that change. I help my clients to unlock that resourcefulness by working with them in a challenging but supportive and non-threatening way. I also believe that the process should be rigorous, with frequent opportunities for feedback so as to manage expectations and measure the progress and effectiveness of the coaching. Above all, the coaching is done in complete confidence so as to provide the person being coached with a safe place to air ideas, concerns and thoughts.