What is Coaching?
When people hear the word “Coach” or “Coaching” they usually think of sport. That can often cause confusion as many so-called sports coaches are actually sports trainers.
So people can see coaching as training people with skills to make them better at doing something – which would be an incorrect definition.
Coaching (except in a formal coaching situation) will sit next to training and mentoring as another tool available to a manager.
A person may approach their manager or colleague and ask for help in successfully completing the task.
The manager/colleague may use their expertise and experience to help that person gain their perspective (mentoring), they may teach them the skills they need (training) or they may enable the person to help themselves using objective questioning and by providing support to the person (coaching).
So coaching is not about giving answers, but about asking the right questions.
A group of new managers recently created some good definitions at Snap-on Tools in the UK.
“Helping people realise goals without telling them what to do.”
“Encouraging people to think for themselves.”
“Helping and guiding.”
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“Questions for GROW Coaching”
Sir John Whitmore, along with Graham Alexander, is credited with the development of the GROW model which is explained in his book, Coaching for Performance – GROWing human potential and purpose’ by Sir John Whitmore. ISBN 978-1-85788-535-4.
GROW provides a flexible framework to guide the client through their own thought processes. I find it is a flexible model, as it is easy to move from one area to another quite seamlessly.
G is for…
In most work managing situations, the conversation starts with someone giving details about a problem and then asking the manager for the solution.
In coaching, the coach will refocus them on talking about what it is they want to achieve as the first part of the discussion – the GOAL. It is usually good practice to identify a completion date at the same time.
This will enable people to positively think about the outcomes they need to achieve, rather than spend time talking about what is wrong and what is not working.
R is for…
Once the Goal is identified and agreed, the coach can focus the client on what is happening at the moment – the current REALITY.
As the GOAL has already been defined, it is now easier to identify which parts of the current REALITY already fit with the GOAL. This can lessen the amount of change perceived by the client.
The difference between the REALITY and the GOAL is the bit that now needs to be worked on.
It is often easier to now break the GOAL down into bite-sized chunks so that the task is not too large.
O is for…
The client now needs to be focused on identifying all the options they can think of to close the gap between the REALITY and the GOAL.
It is at this stage that many coaches find it tempting to throw in their own suggestions. However, if they want the client to own their problem and the solution, they should resist and let the client decide what they should consider doing.
W is for…
Once the client has exhausted their OPTIONS, the coach should move them to the final stage of the model and ask them to decide what it is they WILL do and when they WILL do it by.
The final part is to agree to the next meeting when their actions can be reviewed and the GROW model worked through again for the next part of the situation.
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Adrian is a fully qualified coach.
He designs and facilitates qualification programmes for people who need to be able to coach as part of their job and for full-time coaches.
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