Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching for Success
“Any instruction that lasts longer than ten seconds is coaching”
That’s the view held by the highly successful Mars Corporation and that’s the view that successful organizations of the future are likely to be adopting if they are serious about coaching.
Coaching is for everyone
Coaching is not a specialist occupation reserved for the very few, but a basic way of operating for everyone who is trying to get the best out of their people and get their people to be their best. It is a key skill which helps us to develop people in today’s organizations.
While the idea of coaching is relatively new in organizations, it’s been around for a long time. Think of top sports people like golfers, tennis players and even high jumpers – they all have coaches to help them improve what they do and strive to be the best. Football teams, basketball teams and hockey teams have coaches. There are even coaches in the arts, in things like voice production for singing or drama.
The role of a coach
It doesn’t matter in what field the coach operates, their key role is to help someone improve what they are doing. They do this by giving the person they are coaching feedback about their performance. They also help them plan their development so that they can improve their skills and do the best they can. To be a good coach you don’t have to be an expert in the field, you just need to want to help someone achieve. In sport, many of the best coaches were only ever average performers and top sportspeople often don’t make it as coaches.
Coaching in business
In business, or in any organization, in the same way as sport, coaching is fundamentally concerned with helping people to learn to develop themselves. The process usually involves the individual being coached in identifying areas for improvement and then developing skills or competencies on the job, undertaking informal or formal “training” sessions or even taking on higher education.
Good coaching is therefore not about developing other people, but focusing them on their own development goals and helping them to achieve them.
Coaches need to be able to work at three levels:
- Working closely with people “one on one,” giving feedback, setting goals and tasks which will “stretch” them and supporting them through difficulties.
- Setting up a climate or environment which encourages people to take the risk to do things differently and to learn from their experience. This can involve getting people to reflect on their experiences and getting them to draw learning out of those experiences, to find ways of learning from others, to challenge themselves and to find opportunities to learn new things.
- Actively setting up learning opportunities for individuals by giving them the chance to work with different people, by linking them to others who can help their development, by providing new and challenging work experiences and by giving them access to people and situations that they would not be able to access easily on their own.
If you are going to be an effective coach at work you will have to be able to do at least a little of all of these things.