Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching has grown significantly in popularity in recent years, with many organizations of all sizes and types making use of it in some way, especially for senior managers. However, despite its popularity and increasing penetration and use, it is still not that well understood by leaders. When asked, many managers tend to think of sports coaching as the model that is often most adapted to organizational life, or is a situation in which a professional coach tells a person what is wrong or can be improved and then sticks around while a new method or approach is tried. Although this way of coaching may be a very small part of the mix of skills, it is a long way from what actually happens in practice most of the time. Good coaching, when it is applied is must more listening-centered, behavior focused, support oriented and facilitator led (ideally with lots of quiet reflection on both sides). In other words, a coach rarely tells a manager what to do or goads them into quick new action, but instead asks insightful questions, listens carefully to the feedback and works with the person to determine what forward path he or she wishes to take in the future. It is therefore very much a “coachee” led process not a coach led process.
The Coaching Pocketbook starts off by defining the coach’s overall role in much more detail than described above and then explains how coaching differs from the other ‘helping skills’ of advising, instructing, counselling and mentoring. There are four key stages to coaching, namely assessing current performance levels, setting outcomes for learning, agreeing tactics/initiating action, and offering feedback. The Pocketbook explains each stage and then moves on to summarize the various skills required. Next, the opportunities for coaching and the potential pitfalls are highlighted. A checklist and a case study end the Pocketbook on a practical note.