It is important to gather information systematically and from a variety of sources. Try to begin your research before meeting the coachee so that you have some background information about their role and responsibilities before the orientation session.
Then during the orientation session ask the coachee’s permission to gather more detailed information. Be sure to discuss who you would like to approach and why, if you intend to speak to others. Always emphasise the fact you are building a foundation on which you can provide support, and avoid creating a situation where the coachee feels they are being tested and scrutinised. It is also important to ask the coachee what information they could share with you that would enable you to support them more effectively through the process.
Other people can often provide useful insights that will assist the coaching process. Managers, team members, clients or customers will all have opinions, which is why you will need to focus their attention on your specific information requirements and seek only objective observations. Obtaining feedback from a broad range of others will ensure you obtain accurate and fair feedback that the coachee will appreciate.
Within the organisation there will be information gathered to monitor performance on a number of levels. This could include customer/client surveys, performance appraisals, reports or questionnaires. Organisational policies will determine which data you can review for the purpose of coaching and how you obtain approval to do so.
Regular reporting on the coachee’s progress and performance should record both the individual’s strengths and shortcomings in areas such as knowledge, skill, motivation and confidence. The assessment will be based on observable behaviours and make links to performance objectives. They may also highlight areas of potential that could be developed through coaching.
When coaching relates to the performance of tasks in the workplace, it is often beneficial to observe the coachee at work. This is a direct means of identifying their strengths and weaknesses. In order to preserve the trust necessary for successful coaching, it’s essential this is not a covert operation. Simply ask them to show you how they currently go about performing a task. Identify for yourself beforehand what steps are necessary to complete the task competently and refer to any relevant procedure documents. As you watch, take note of what the coachee can and can’t do so that you have a complete picture of their current skill level. Make a record of these observations and use these notes to guide future discussions and planning.
Information in your workplace
What sources of information could you take advantage of in your workplace?
List the possible sources of information available to you in your organisation. Then describe the information you would find useful.
What do you need to know before the orientation interview?
What information would be useful during the preparation phase of coaching?
What information do you need your coachee’s permission to gather?