Topic outline

  • Introduction - What is coaching?

    Many people in the workforce learn their skills through on-the-job training. This often takes the form of informal but highly effective coaching. Think of a situation where you provided one-on-one support and focused on the needs of an individual to help them achieve a goal. That was coaching.

    You may have used discussion and guidance to:

    • show a new team member how to complete a routine
    • help a colleague solve a problem
    • work with someone to improve the way they do a task.

    When you help someone in this way, you intuitively customise the learning to suit the individual; this is what makes coaching so successful. You automatically:

    • ask questions to clarify what they do know and don’t know
    • find resources appropriate to their needs
    • draw diagrams to support your verbal explanations
    • rephrase explanations to help them understand
    • show them how to do something, as well as give them written or verbal instructions
    • repeat a demonstration for them
    • watch how they do the task and offer advice
    • respond to their questions.

    Coaching can be a formal process or an informal process which can be part of your everyday work schedule when a colleague needs your assistance in completing a task or understanding a process.

    Coaching is more than teaching or training. Learn more about it by completing this activity.
    Activity: Coaching is many things

  • Prepare for coaching

    Before you begin coaching, you must know who, what, why, when, where and how you will coach. By the time you can answer all of these questions, you will also have confirmed there is a need for coaching and established that it is the most appropriate approach.

    • who
      • Who are you coaching?
      • Who suggested, recommended or referred them for coaching?
    • what
      • What is their role within the organisation?
      • What is their career background?
      • What are their strengths?
      • What would they like to improve?
      • What do they hope to achieve?
      • What concerns or reservations do they have about the coaching agreement?
      • What concerns or reservations do you have about the coaching agreement?
      • What have you been asked to do for the coachee?
    • why
      • Why have they approached you to be their coach?
      • Why do they want or need to change?
    • when
      • When is the coachee at their best, alert and able to concentrate?
      • When is a convenient time for them to meet with you?
      • When are you at your best, alert and able to concentrate?
    • where
      • Where do they currently work?
      • Where can you find a suitable place to conduct coaching sessions?
      • Where would the coachee like to work in the future?
    • how
      • How much experience do they have?
      • How do they prefer to learn?
      • How can you structure the coaching to match their preferred learning style?
      • How will you know if the coaching arrangement has been successful for them?
      • How will you know if the coaching arrangement has been successful for you?
      • How will you keep the coachee motivated and focused?

      The preparation you do should confirm the need for coaching, but there may well be times when it proves otherwise. Consider this scenario:
      Is coaching the best solution? (Word Document 143KB)

  • Provide coaching

    Coaching offers an employee enormous benefits over other forms of training because it is their needs that determine both the content chosen and the way the learning is approached. A coach also helps the employee identify and overcome the things that prevent them from accepting and overcoming challenges, which means they are better prepared for future learning.

    How do we learn?

    Individuals learn in different ways and have their preferred way of receiving information. Some people prefer verbal instructions, while others prefer reading written material. Some people respond well to visual images, while others prefer to be shown how to do something. Most of us learn best by doing. In fact, we all use a combination of learning styles and coaching should cater for this.

    What I hear, I forget
    What I see, I remember
    What I do, I understand
    What I practise, I apply

  • Follow-up coaching

    Monitoring

    The monitoring stage of coaching involves checking to confirm the learner is able to apply their new skills and knowledge in their day-to-day work. It is the results of monitoring that will determine whether the coaching process is complete or not. Monitoring is also an opportunity to provide the employee with ongoing support and, if necessary, to recommend further coaching.

    Monitoring can take many forms, including those already identified as assessment tools. Other examples include:

    • a checklist completed by a supervisor, the coach or the employee
    • recording changes in results such as sales figures
    • collating comments on client satisfaction surveys.

    To ensure the overall picture of skill development is accurate, you should use a variety of monitoring techniques; you should make allowances for variables that may impact on the employee’s performance, including illness, anxiety and distractions.

    Concluding coaching

    Ideally the coaching relationship should come to a natural end when the coachee achieves their goals or feels confident they are able to do so independently. In reality, coaching may end for other reasons. It may be that only a predetermined number of sessions could be held within the time constraints imposed by the organisation, or the coach or coachee may have commitments that need to take priority. Regardless of the reason coaching has come to an end, making time to evaluate the outcomes and planning for the future will prove to be valuable. A tripartite meeting between the coachee, the coach and the manager could be arranged to discuss goals, achievements and the way forward.

    Evaluate coaching experience

    The coaching experience should be evaluated from three different perspectives. Evaluation should examine the:

    • impact of coaching on the individual
    • impact of coaching on the organisation
    • effectiveness of the coaching.

    Unlike assessment and monitoring, these outcomes may not be immediately measurable or tangible, but the benefits will still be evident.

    Use the questionnaire provided to evaluate your success as a coach.Activity: Coaching questionnaire (Word Document 61KB)