“Making a decision is only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Do you need a coach?
“Everybody needs a coach”, that’s what Professor David Clutterbuck stated back in 1985[footnote]Clutterbuck, David, 2004, Everyone Needs a Mentor. CIPD Publishing.[/footnote] when coaching, as a management technique, started to spread across the world.
And I completely agree. If anything, in the quarter century since, the increasing demands on everybody to perform, show their emotional intelligence and cope with the stress of modern living in a healthy way has become more critical. And having a coach can help you do that.
So just what can a coach do for you?
A coach can help you:
- Gain insight – particularly about how current behaviour is PERCEIVED by others through providing feedback and assessment.
- Get clarity of purpose – Extroverted people who are outer-directed (and rewarded behaviours in this world) tend to get their self-esteem from satisfying others’ expectations of them. This may cause them to lose touch with what is truly important for themselves. Without clarity of purpose, you may tend to rush through days not knowing what you want to achieve. Often asking what others want rather than seeming to have opinions of their own. Reflection and review through coaching can help here.
- Help you improve relationships – changing behaviours in relationships changes their perception of the other party and you’ll get more open and honest feedback. Coaching that helps you conduct planned conversations with colleagues is especially useful here.
- Broaden your perspectives – we all play a role and have a preference of the way we process…. increasing the diversity of opinions we consider in decisions broadens our perspective leading to improved and more acceptable decisions.
- Develop your leadership skills – developing the skills each individual needs for their new position or a future role.
- Help you identify and overcome barriers to change – change occurs over time, unlearning is often resisted, especially deeply rooted habits, and stress causes us to revert to preference. Self-righteousness is often the biggest barrier. Coaching can identify and discuss the roadblocks developing strategies and new ways of thinking to overcome them.
- Improve your ability to learn – dependence on your coach for feedback is a disservice. Internalising the ability to learn and continuously grow, sustaining behaviour and results. Coaching uses a cyclical process, making this process explicit, the coachee becomes more skilled at using the same process on their own.
When is Coaching needed?
There are times in life and work when we would benefit from the experience, wisdom and knowledge of people who have been in similar situations. If you are looking for one such person, then you are looking for a coach. Most coaches are professionals, people with considerable experience in one or more sectors, more often than not trained in coaching skills. They choose to become coaches as they are willing to help others by sharing their experience and by helping their coachees to find solutions to their issues, following them through a plan of action.
According to a report published by CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development), one in five chief executives claim that having had a coach was critical for their success[footnote]ANDERSON, V., RAYNER, C. and SCHYNS, B. (2009) Coaching at the sharp end: the role of line managers in coaching at work. Research report. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.[/footnote].
Young graduates report to have found their feet in the organisation thanks to the help of their most experienced colleagues. Even people coming up to retirement have been eased through this difficult stage of their life through people who have “been there before”. Within a work environment there are many situations where the help of a coach would be appropriate.
Typical Situations when having a coach will really help you
- Starting in a new job/position when you are expected to hit the ground running.
- Taking on a new role or responsibility, or starting in a new industry where you have little experience, but need to gain the skills and experience quickly.
- When needing a personal assessment to determine your strengths and weaknesses, and consider what you should be doing in order to maximise your potential.
- When striving for promotion or a new position.
- When needing to talk through your thought processes, strategies, and plans in order to move forward.
- When struggling with certain skills and performance areas and you wish to improve.
- When feeling you have reached a plateau in your career and want to explore options.
Can I do this without a coach?
To a certain extent, yes. That’s exactly what this book is about. It takes a certain amount of self-discipline and you’ll need to set yourself targets to achieve and the tenacity to keep on keeping on.
Use the templates here and you’ll be working on the same things that 80% of our clients find most useful in their first coaching season. The other 20%? Well, those are things that need a coach.
A word of warning
You will have blockages and defences (we all have them), and you will have particular heuristics in thinking (mental short-cuts) that have developed over your life. You may not even know about them. So when you encounter resistance with yourself, most typically you’ll procrastinate about actually doing the template, make a note and pledge yourself to push through regardless. If you still find yourself resisting… get a professional coach to help you.
Am I ready for Coaching? Assessment
Questions and objections to being coached:
- I’m already successful, why do I need a coach?
- When does an athlete get a coach, when they’re not very good or when they are already performing well? How much more successful could you be if you had a coach?
- Since I’m reading this and it looks to me as if I can just use this to coach myself?
- Yes, absolutely right, you can coach yourself. So long as you have the self-discipline to ensure that you do it and the ability to recognise your own baggage and blockages (believe me, we all have some) and deal with them.
- But isn’t coaching for people who have “real problems”?
- No. True counselling, psychologists and psychiatrists – fully qualified medical practitioners – handle such cases.
- OK, for those who aren’t performing well then?
- Coaching would possibly benefit them, though it’s rarely the best investment.
- Aren’t most coaches just people who don’t have a real job?
- A little harsh, but for some this is true. Many coaches are individuals who have left (voluntarily or otherwise) the corporate world and coaching is seen as an easy way to make money and have a decent work/life balance. They have knowledge and expertise and, increasingly, qualifications to be a coach. Some qualifications are rigorous, others less so. And being qualified does not make you a “good” coach. I suggest you look at their longevity as a coach and real testimonials from real clients (Linked In references are a good indicator – at least there’s an authenticated user who has posted it). Oh, and it’s not an “easy” way to make money, but yes the work/life balance can be excellent and doing what I love and getting paid for it…
- Doesn’t a coach have to be older/more senior/more successful than I?
- No. You are the one with the resources and answers. Your coach is the person who helps you find and leverage those resources you have.
- But I don’t want some young, inexperienced person as my coach…
- Then don’t hire them.
- Don’t they need to know my business or industry?
- If you want to improve in a technical competence (a job skill) yes.
- Shouldn’t my company provide coaching for me?
- If you won’t invest in you, why should they?
- Isn’t coaching expensive?
- In terms of time and commitment, yes. In terms of money – yes if you hire someone really well-known and even famous. Think in terms of investment and know what return you want.
Also published on Medium.