Article (June-2021)


Competency based Coaching for psychological wellbeing

Dr. Deepak Sharma

Designation : -   Executive Coach & Faculty Member -HR

Organization : -  Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bengaluru


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As it is being said 'We are facing the same storm but we all are not in the same boat' signifies the status of impact of Covid 19 on organisations belonging to different sectors. With people and working employees having barely been able to cope with the first wave, saw the tsunami of second wave of covid-19. Workforce has been disturbed by lockdowns, different notifications from Government, different directives regarding public health measures involving wearing face masks, hand gloves, repeated hand wash, job insecurity, scarcity of essential resources, lack of personal freedom as people have been caged to home space only, different variants of covid 19 virus and mode of transmission of the virus. However, one thing is for sure and that is mental health of people in India may be seen as a cause for deep concern.

In such cases, organisations need to find answers for questions such as 'how to work on factors leading to organisational effectiveness in such changed scenario?' Or 'What kind of mental health interventions in the workplace may prove effective for mental health promotion and mental illness & stress/depression prevention strategies?'

Organisations in all sectors have established mental wellness policies and support networks which can be utilised to improve mental health of workforce. However, solutions provided by organisations that worked in past may be falling short of addressing the concerns of workforce due to factors which were never witnessed earlier. But, nonetheless, organisational leadership needs to look beyond traditional measures to work towards more customised approach to resolving mental health issues and concerns.

One such measure which may work very well if deployed effectively is Coaching. Coaching is different from managing or leading and may be considered as a process that enhances competencies of individuals and teams. Coaching helps to find answers on "what's in it for me" for the workforce. International Coaching Federation (ICF) views coaching as a partnering relationship in a thought provoking and creative process where the intended outcome is inspiring people in maximising their personal as well as professional potential. While GROW model of coaching had its roots in Timothy Gallway's Inner Game Theory, Sir John Whitmore defined coaching as unlocking a person's potential to maximise their own performance.

Let's take it a bit further and link coaching with competency of individuals. Competency is described as a set of knowledge, skills and abilities that directly influence an employee's job performance. Competency has its roots in latin word 'competentia' which denotes 'authorized to judge' as well as 'has right to speak.' It became widely known in management field through work of Boyatzis in 1982. Competency may be understood as an underlying characteristic of an individual that is causally related to criterion-referenced effective and/or superior performance in a job or situation. Competency may be organisational specific and role specific as well as threshold and critical.

For any individual who needs feeling of psychological well being and happiness, to make it work and to ensure a feeling of fulfillment, self-efficacy and satisfaction, there exists a need to link it to his competency possessed/competency gaps. This can be done by a performance/leadership/ EI Coach.

The concept of PERMA

The concept of PERMA was developed by Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology, as a five point core element of psychological wellbeing and happiness. Seligman asserted that the five elements can help individuals work towards a life of fulfillment, happiness, and meaning. Such five elements are :

P - Positive Emotion

E - Engagement

R - Relationships

M - Meaning

A - Accomplishments

Let us understand how competency based coaching may work towards attaining PERMA. We explore each of these elements below.

P - Positive Emotion

It is the ability to remain optimistic and view one's past, present, and future from a creative, constructive and positive perspective. But to make it work the individual has to explore what competencies he possesses to be successful, in times of change and uncertainties out of those competencies what has worked in the past and still what can work now. Similarly, for combating the future ambiguities what is the qualities/traits/skills/attitude/knowledge that he may deploy to give him a better meaning out of the current situation. Such experience may be more fulfilling to such client and may give him a positive and optimist frame of mind and new energy to combat challenges by being optimistic that the individual has necessary competencies to combat it.

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Dr. Deepak Sharma -
Executive Coach & Faculty Member -HR, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bengaluru