Here are some simple answers to those frequently asked questions about coaching. Who is it for? What is coaching? How will I benefit? Plus some guidance on finding a coach and getting started.
WHO IS COACHING FOR?
This is a frequently asked question about coaching and has a simple answer – anyone who wants to think differently about their current situation. It may be in relation to career development, those sticky questions about future direction and the options available. It may be about a particular challenge in the workplace; anything from a ‘difficult’ colleague to new and significant project. Change in the workplace can often be a time when coaching is valuable.
WHAT IS COACHING?
Coaching offers a rare opportunity for spending time focusing on you and what is important to you. It is highly confidential and so you can talk about what REALLY matters. The coaching relationship is a working alliance where the sole aim is to work on your desired outcomes. During the coaching you will be encouraged to think differently and to see the issue from various perspectives, plus offered time to consider and try out options.
HOW WILL I BENEFIT?
The productive space will offer you the opportunity to:
- clarifying strengths and ensuring you are using them to best advantage;
- reflect and think about issues;
- work on personal change;
- try out different behaviours for working with colleagues;
- develop certain skills (eg: influencing);
- considering your career and where next;
- addressing barriers to maximising your performance (what is holding you back & why?).
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
The coaching relationship is central and will be the source of support and challenge. The coach will listen, question (some quite tough ones!) and offer feedback. You will be supported to explore your thinking and assumptions – to understand yourself – to develop new strategies. Between sessions you will be encouraged to take ACTION from which you can learn.
Coaching sessions are your space and you will be actively encouraged to define outcomes and to consider how best to move towards achieving them. Equally, there may be occasions when just exploring and talking is what you want to do – that is fine.
However you are using the space, the coach is there for you; to create a safe, supportive and non-judgemental environment.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A COACH?
On a practical level it is wise to ask about:
- the persons coaching qualification(s);
- their Code of Conduct and membership of a professional body;
- on-going CPD and numbers of hours of coaching.Then you may wish to ask about their style, approach and some examples of work recently undertaken. Finally, remember the importance of the relationship: do you want to spend time with this person? Do you feel that they will be able to help you with your issues?
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
I always encourage an initial conversation, often by phone. This is just to find out about some of the above points and to give you a chance to engage in a conversation together. The next stage is to meet for a free contracting session – this is not about being coached but to ensure that when it starts (assuming you make the decision to go ahead with this coach) you are both ready and focused. During this session you should have a more in-depth discussion about each other and, very importantly, start to shape your outcomes.
Let’s close with a quote and one comment from a client I worked with.
‘The coach works with clients to achieve speedy, increased and sustainable effectiveness in their lives and careers, through focused learning. The coach’s sole aim is to work with the client to achieve all of the client’s potential – as defined by the client.’ (J. Rogers, 2004).
“A patient listener who offers strong challenge whilst preserving equanimity. She encouraged me to think wider and deeper and expose the ‘blind spots’ I tend to overlook. She helped me to consider what was holding me back and to consider them in the context of my role and life.” (Director).