Coaching - Is it Done 'To' or 'For', Your People?

Effective coaching is an important ingredient to quality leadership. Like leadership effectiveness, good coaching is a journey and not a destination. As part of this journey, I would like to explore the above concept with you.  

Here is the definition of coaching I am using as the context for this discussion.  " An ongoing and dynamic series of job-related interactions between a leader and his or her report, designed to diagnose and correct or reinforce performance related behaviours, specific to that individual."  *

I'd like you to consider people you have coached in recent time. Who came to the sessions; looking forward to them? Having prepared an issue to work through with you? Having done the work agreed to at the last session? Willing to develop ideas and solutions? Taking ownership for the issues and the solutions?

Compare the above with people who have come to the sessions; Because you required them to? Done no or minimal preparation? Having done none or little of the work 'agreed' at the last session? Waits for you to provide or at leat offer solutions? Leaves to implement your ideas/suggestions?

Which of the above two groups is the most rewarding for you to coach? Which of the above two groups gains the most from the coaching sessions. The answer of course is the first group. 

I have come to the view that the first group are the people that see coaching as something that is done 'for' them, i.e. They see coaching as for their benefit. The second group see 'coaching as something that is done 'to' them, i.e. more for your benefit than theirs.

Creating the 'for' coaching environment comes from the development of an effective coaching culture and application of effective coaching skills. While it is beneficial if the whole organisation has or is working towards this culture, A leader at any level of the organisation can create this culture within their own team.

To create the 'For' coaching environment, here are some actions you can take:

  1. Discuss the purpose of coaching with your people and explain the 'For' concept and that is what you are wanting the coaching to be about.
  2. Be clear about what is coaching and what are other employee discussions, such as counselling, under performance, instructions/directions, training. Call each thing what it is.
  3. Coach your people in what coaching is and how they can get the most from coaching.
  4. If someone comes to a scheduled coaching session unprepared, don't proceed, ask them to reschedule when they are prepared.
  5. Have the employee take responsibility for the scheduling of the coaching sessions. 
  6. Hone and apply your coaching skills. Check you are coaching well.
  7. Share and explain the coaching model e.g GROW that you use when you coach your people.
  8. Have some of your 'for' coachees describe the benefit they get from coaching to those not yet in the 'for' mindset.

if you would like assistance with the coaching capability of yourself or your organisation, feel free to contact us and we'd be delighted to assist.

A closing thought. If good coaching is 'for' the employee, who will say thank you to the other for the coaching session?

*  Adapted form a definition used by Corporate Executive Board