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The Coaching Continuum

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At the outset, I would like to frame this piece by stressing that I DON'T advertise myself as a coach. I have a basic qualification in coaching and don't offer coaching as a stand-alone service. However, I do help managers to develop basic coaching skills so that they can have constructive and developmental conversations with their teams. So... here's goes.

I ran a half-day session on coaching skills for managers recently. There was a confusion over what coaching actually is. As I see it, it means different things to different people. The construction manager will tell you that he's coaching people when he shows them how to build a wall; the engineering team leader may tell you she's coaching people when they solve a problem together; the professional coach may tell you that it's about unlocking personal obstacles.

Some people are scared to offer 'coaching' at work because they associate it with counselling. Some people feel that it can only take place in a long, formal session and therefore isn't compatible with the modern business needs of agility and pace. Others think that they can only coach someone if they are an expert themselves.

This is why I wanted to state my position at the start: I'm not precious about the definition people use. To me, 'coaching' can fall anywhere on the continuum below, and the format of coaching will vary depending on the nature of the issue, the urgency of finding a solution, the relationship between the individuals, whether there is a single 'right' way or many, and the risk associated with choosing an untested path. What matters is that people work together to find the best way forward for them.

coaching continuum

 

 

I cover this in my bite-size module 'Coach People', as well as the core skills. It's not designed to provide the skills needed to be a professioanl coach. It's designed to help line managers have supportive yet challenging developmental conversations with their people to create learning from real-work situations.

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