Workplace coaching aims to get the best performance out of an individual or team. A great coach, in any environment, will work towards getting the best out of their team or individual. They know when to ‘tell’ and when and how to help people work out their own solutions using a careful mix of communication techniques.
The purpose of coaching within the workplace is to improve working performance. Like a stereotypical sports coach, a workplace coach takes the existing skills of a team or individual and builds on them, enhances them and gets the very best from them. They will also introduce new skills and give them the knowledge and ability to use them.
Coaching ultimately leads to better overall results for the company or business. When done well coaching can increase productivity, bring a greater sense of commitment and loyalty from team members as they feel more connected and valued, this will also work towards reducing stress and tension as staff feel supported and heard and will improve overall communication.
Who should become a coach and what does it involve?
The coach is, therefore, a leader. They provide guidance, instruction and support. Workplace coaches use listening and questioning techniques during 1-2-1 sessions and group meetings. They also provide consistent and ongoing support and encouragement to individuals and teams to keep them motivated and connected.
There are many responsibilities for a coach and the best way to discover and explore this is via appropriate training but simply put, a coach has the following responsibilities:
- Keep discussions focused on a clear goal. Work with the individual to identify the goal.
- Encourage new ways of thinking, exploring lots of different possibilities.
- Provide feedback which is constructive. Ask relevant questions and really listen to the responses.
In return the individual you are coaching also has responsibilities. They must:
- Participate in the process and provide ideas and look at ways goals can be attained.
- Decide which actions need to be taken to achieve those goals.
- Provide regular reports and feedback throughout the process.
As a collaborative exercise, the coach has a responsibility to remain in ‘coach’ mode at all times and not revert to Manager, that is an authoritarian role rather than a relationship based on partnership. If these lines become blurred the process will break down and lead to confusion and frustration.
The role of the coach is to gently and effectively tease out the best from the individual. This involves active listening and a non-judgemental stance. This can often mean working to control natural instincts when situations or discussions are not going as planned. Instead of or trying to solve an issue by taking control of it the coach needs to stay in the role of the facilitator.
These are not easy skills to master so any organisation considering using these techniques should consider training courses before implementing workplace coaching. Appropriate training will:
- Identify the difference between learner and coach centred behaviours
- Explain how to help learners work out their own solutions
- Introduce new tips on coaching skills that would take your team to the next level
- Differentiate between learner and coach centred techniques
- Use learner-centred behaviours to “pull” the process forward – showing understanding, drawing out through questioning, helping the learner work out their own solutions, asking the learner for feedback
- Use coach centred behaviours to “push” the process forward – giving advice, sharing experiences, giving feedback, stating expectations
- Understand what skills need to be developed to become a great coach.