Article (July-2016)


Coaching in your workplace

Dr. Sunil Kr. Kapoor

Designation : -   Professional, Certified and Practicing Coach

Organization : -  Gurgaon


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Coaching seems to be the new axiom in corporate world. Professional coaches are pouncing up in huge numbers and in various areas and perspective. These people come from a range of backgrounds for instance, HR, Training, Psychology and Sports and have different contexts, approaches, methods and styles; however the purpose remains almost the same.

It's said that Coaching is an increasingly popular tool for supporting personal development to attain the desired outcome. In a recent survey conducted across Europe and USA, 74% respondents in the Learning and Development survey reported that they now widely use Coaching in their organizations. It's remarkable that 64% offered coaching to all employees whereas 36% offered Coaching services to Directors and senior management. 

Coaching - What makes it effective 
It is important to understand that the coaching discussion is based on the Coachee's agenda and needs, not the coach's wish, opinion or priority, as its only about Coachee. It requires an honest, trustful and open relationship between the Coach and the Coachee, where the coach is supportive and encouraging.

The key characteristics of coaching are:-

  •     To be performed one-to-one
  •     To help the Coachee to develop d achieve the desired outcome
  •     To allow the "person being Coached or Coachee" to gain self-awareness and insight rather than directly telling or advising or guiding or provoking
  •     To help the individual achieve specific goal(s) and is directed towards that only
  •     To address a wide range of concerns

The aim of coaching is to develop awareness and responsibility in the Coachee through a process where he or she comes to recognize the best suitable series of actions to take in order to move forward. The Coach, therefore, tries to avoid giving direct advice or offering his or her own solution and, instead, ask a series of powerful questions to bring-out the thoughts and multiple probable possibilities of actions by the Coachee.

One of the most popular models used to structure coaching is the GROW model practiced widely by Coaches world-wide, its process stands as:-

  •     Goals-what do you want to achieve?
  •     Reality-what have you done so far? What has been the result?
  •     Options-what alternatives are available?
  •     Way forward-what are you going to do?

GROW model underline the idea that coaching is based on establishing clearly the desired outcomes and leads to actionsrather than just thinking and planning, to discover that the Coacheeis sincerely committed to attain those -desired-n-specific outcomes.The absence of direct advice draws a line which makes coaching different from other forms of development activity, such as Mentoring, Counseling, Guiding, Training and/or Educating. In mentoring, one person/mentor passes on knowledge or shares experience to another person/mentee.

The primary aim of Coaching is to develop awareness and responsibility in the Coachee through carefully placed powerful questions. The Coachee is facilitated to develop goals and ensure the best way forward to achieve them, may be reviewing past performance in the process.

The concept is that, by way of this thought process, the Coachee will foresee solution(s) whichare positively relevant and realistic because they have originated from the Coachee himself and have not been imposed by anyone. The person is also likely to be more confident, sincere and committed to take thespecific and planned actions.

The benefits for the Coachee can be:

  •     Higher motivation and commitment
  •     Effective decision making
  •     Clarity of goals and objectives
  •     Better self-awareness
  •     Better ability to deal with change
  •     Improved ability to work independently
  •     Greater sense of responsibility, e.g. for own development
  •     Finds certainty in achieving defined-n-desired outcome 

The organization has obvious several advantages by having motivated and charged employees, committed to achieving clear defined goals and targeted performance. There should be higher, faster and accurate outcome and more self-reliance employees, with almost no supervision by superior(s).This can be particularly helpful in organizations where employees are spread at different work location, offices or site and need to be able to work independently and to be self-motivating.

Coaching can be used to complement other training and development activities-n-programs. It can be used to follow up training programs and help participants to implement their learning. Since learning through training/courses gets diluted as soon as the person returns to work. Using coaching to ensure the transfer of learning can significantly increase the ROI in training.

Problems of coaching in the workplace
Coaching involves a different relationship between Coach and Coachee than exists in the usual management structures found in most organizations. In some cases, organizations will ask their own managers to coach, rather than bringing in external coaches. This can cause difficulties but, if the organization wishes to develop coaching as the predominant management style, then these issuesneed to be addressed and a solid program be developed.

Both parties may be practicing the traditional management style and role, expecting the manager to solve problems or tell the other person what is appropriate and may have problems changing to the new relationship. There may be non-acceptance by both parties.Even if the manager is ready to adopt the new approach, s/he may lack the essential skills to coach effectively and may need further training.

The key skills and attributes of an effective Coach include:

  •     Ability to listen
  •     Ability to ask powerful questions and lead the Coachee towards awareness and action
  •     Ability to empathize
  •     Ability to be non-judgmental
  •     Ability to give indirect advice, guidance or training so that the Coachee develop his/her own options
  •     Ability to build rapport and trust
  •     Ability to encourage and support
  •     Ability to see different perspectives and viewpoints
  •     Ability to be constructively Challenging

It's established that the coaching relationship rest on openness and trust between the Coach and Coachee. Furthermore, the conversation should be to its entirety follow the coachee's agenda and not of the Coach.

These preconditions can be difficult to have in the workplace, especially where the manager has double role of coaching and another of line supervisor for the Coachee. This can mark a dent of trust and openness. It's observed that there may be limits to determine the agenda by the Coachee as the organization itself may have clear and strong expectations in terms of performance and acceptable actions from Coachee. The organizations can address these problems by separating coaching from other areas of functional areas, for instance, making sure that Coaches are not also the line managers of those Coachee.

By defining the boundaries of the coaching sessions that take place they can also try to create a Coaching Culture by establishing that coaching takes place across the organization and at all levels, functions, and locations. It should not be treated as a remedial approach for underperformers or sticky employees. The Coaching activity must be recognized at par with other values management approaches.

Coaching is now extensively practiced as a normal and regular corporate culture. It has surpassed the stage of being the new trend or tool and has accepted by many businesses as part of their management and development tools. However, the success of any coaching primarily depends on the expertise of the Coach and the degree of understanding about Coaching in the organization as why it's introduced and envisioned to achieve.