In a Nutshell

In a nutshell

1. What’s the point of coaching?

Organisations that have embraced coaching have noticed remarkable results.

  • Coaching can be a powerful tool in encouraging responsibility, increasing motivation, improving individual performance, increasing loyalty and freeing up managers’ time.
  • Organisations can use coaching to become more profitable, better equipped to beat the competition and build long-lasting relationships with customers.


2. What exactly is coaching?

  • Coaching is based on a relationship of mutual trust and respect, and only works if both parties want it to.
  • Coaching can work towards positive and sustainable behaviour change in any environment.
  • Coaching is distinct from training, mentoring, managing or giving remedial therapy.
  • Coaching helps someone to learn and facilitates their sense of worth through the use of questioning, listening, challenging and tasking.
  • Coaching allows someone to improve their performance using their own natural abilities.


3. When to coach and when to tell

It is important to understand when to use coaching and when it is not appropriate.

  • Coaching builds on the premise that people are more likely to commit to their own ideas than imposed ones.
  • Coaching lends itself well to performance appraisal; developing skills, perspective or self-awareness; bringing awareness of leadership style, personal strengths and areas for development; managing talent or change; challenging attitudes and beliefs; or resolving specific issues.
  • Successful coaching brings about change over time.


4. Specific applications of coaching

Some particular situations lend themselves well to coaching, including the following

  • Performance appraisal
  • Developing a new skill
  • Talent management
  • Developing perspective
  • Leading others
  • Personal impact
  • Resolving specific issues
  • Managing change
  • Coaching for action


5. Different approaches to coaching

  • In brief and informal coaching, listen and then ask one or two focused questions on what is important to the coachee.
  • In a single coaching session, focus on one clear goal and ensure the action plan is clear.
  • Over several sessions, clarify goals for each session, agree discussion points, and incorporate challenge and trust.


6. Face-to-face, telephone or email?

  • Face-to-face coaching helps to develop rapport quickly and provides non-verbal feedback.
  • When coaching on the telephone, eliminate all potential distractions.
  • In email coaching, focus on phrasing a few powerful questions, be specific about feedback, and look closely at what the words used indicate.


7. Intent and attitude in coaching

The fundamental essence of being a great coach is intent.

  • Positive intent about future possibilities will underpin your coaching abilities.
  • Performance = Potential – Interference

An effective coaching approach is part of a well-rounded management style and your own self-awareness is key to becoming a great coach.

  • Develop self-awareness by reflecting on your skills, experiences and preferences.
  • Coaching generates, and demands, a positive perspective of others. Everyone is capable of improving who they are and what they do, given the right environment and support.
  • Coaching is about mutual respect and trust, and freedom of expression. You do not have to like someone to build a rapport and coach them successfully.


8. Coaching skills

There are eight core skills that underpin effective coaching.

  • Your own behavioural flexibility
  • Preparing effectively
  • Building rapport
  • Questioning
  • Challenging
  • Listening
  • Observing and providing balanced feedback
  • Forwarding the action and tasking

Note that having all the answers can hinder coaching and undermine good intentions.


9. Flexibility

  • An effective coach has a flexibile mindset about styles of communication and management, and attitudes to others.


10. Preparation

  • Good preparation is essential.


11. Rapport

Rapport is about being easy with someone, identifying common ground and tuning into what the other person wants.

  • Take steps to ensure that you have credibility.
  • Build rapport through matching body language, words and ways of speaking.


12. Questioning and challenging

The key skill in coaching is the ability to ask powerful questions.

  • Effective questions empower people. They enable an individual to think in a different way, assume responsibility and decide on action.
  • Open questions raise awareness and encourage a deeper response.
  • Often the simplest questions are the most powerful.
  • Beware of ‘why’ questions, which can encourage focus on past performance and inhibit moving forwards.
  • Challenge assumptions and beliefs that limit performance.

Includes a list of effective coaching questions based on the GROW model


13. Active listening

Great coaches are outstanding listeners.

  • You need to focus on actively listening and understanding – it takes practice.
  • Check that verbal and non-verbal communication match, and challenge if they don’t.


14. Feedback

This is the process of giving data to someone about the impact that they make through their actions, attitude and words.

  • Feedback is a starting point for coaching and a tool for assisting ongoing development.
  • Effective feedback is subjective and descriptive; the worst kind is personal and judgemental.
  • Ways of giving feedback include: eliciting feedback from the coachee, offering to give own observations, working out an agreement.
  • Use the BOOST model to avoid giving poor feedback.


15. Forwarding the action

It’s important to move from discussion to commitment – to forward the action and create new perspectives.

  • Ask questions to pursue the momentum of the coaching, make plans and set tasks, acknowledge the insights into the issue and help the coachee to change their approach to it.
  • Be clear about specific goals, ensure the coachee keeps the responsibility and accountability, allow enough time to plan action, and check for commitment.


16. The need for a process

Having a process helps to guide the conversations you have and to ensure a successful outcome.

  • Start by developing self-awareness of your communication habits, which will improve your performance as a communicator and coach.
  • A coaching contract can lay the foundations for an effective coaching relationship.
  • Outline of a typical coaching session


17. Wheel of life – a coaching tool

  • The wheel of life can give perspective on the balance between roles within work and between work and home life.


18. The GROW coaching process

  • The GROW (Goals–Reality–Options–Will) model will give structure to coaching.


19. Things to watch for in your coaching sessions

  • Is the coachee taking responsibility?
  • Are they engaged with the coaching?
  • Do they deliver on the agreed actions?
  • Do they reflect on their performance?
  • Do they take feedback on board?


20. Coaching and motivation

Coaching should encourage the release and application of an individual’s potential.

  • Different things motivate different people. Find out and tap into what motivates the individual.
  • In dealing with poor performers, decide if the issue is to do with lack of skill or will.


21. Coaching people in different roles

  • When coaching your boss, be specific about the topic and make sure it’s appropriate.
  • When coaching high performers, take time to understand what motivates them and what they believe they can improve.
  • In remedial coaching, spend time on diagnosing and agreeing the issue.
  • When coaching a new starter, focus on their needs to enhance motivation.
  • When peer coaching, clarify what success will be like.


22. What sort of impact can coaching have?

  • To evaluate the impact of coaching and its cost-effectiveness, set up relevant criteria before coaching takes place.
  • Estimating the financial benefits can be difficult if the goals are not quantifiable and the outcome of calculations is only as reliable as the data used. Hard data are useful, but performance indicators are more important.
  • Evaluation can engage participants in a process of change and development of their coaching practice.


23. How do I become a coach?

  • There are plenty of books about the nature of coaching and the skills required. There are also CDs and DVDs to help you hone your skills.
  • There is no substitute for practice. Practise coaching as much as you can.
  • Get yourself a coaching supervisor, who can give you some objective feedback on how you are doing.
  • There are many courses ranging from one-day introductions to programmes leading to professional qualifications.
  • Use feedback from your coachees to adjust what you do. Also look for any improvements in their performance and identify what has worked well for them.