Coaching: Bringing Out the Best in Others

Today organizations are working with smaller budgets and fewer people. At the same time, customer expectations are increasing. In this environment, making the best use of all employees’ skills, knowledge, and abilities is more critical than ever before.

To meet this challenge, organizations are redefining and expanding the role coaching plays in meeting organizational goals. Coaching is no longer a ritual that only managers carry out during scheduled performance reviews. Instead, it is seen as a way for everyone in the workplace to work with, motivate, and support one another, both within and across functional lines.

The goal of coaching is not to provide direction, but for employees to work together to help one another find direction. To accomplish this goal, employees must take on greater personal responsibility in the workplace not only for their own performance, but also for the performance of others. Instead of saying, “That’s not my job,” employees must find opportunities to help others:
• Gain confidence in their own abilities
• Analyze problems and find solutions
• Set goals
• Think of a better approach to their work
• Find new ways to apply their skills
• Sort through their fears and concerns
• Find ways to overcome obstacles

After all, the security of your job may depend on how well others do their jobs. Each employee’s success rests on the organization’s success and for the organization to thrive, everybody has to be a coach.

The value of coaching within and across functional lines is easy to see. The tough issues are learning to coach and finding the personal resolve to be an active coach. To become business partners working together toward the organization’s success, all employees need to learn to:
 Recognize diverse coaching opportunities
 Routinely coach other people for the good of the organization
 Understand the difference between coaching and giving orders
 Coach with confidence

 Master a step-by-step approach to coaching
 Know what to say when coaching someone
 See how their own coaching connects to the success of the larger organization

In these challenging times, success depends on continuous improvement, which in turn depends on continuous learning. Most people understand that fact of survival. Coaching, a practical skill anyone can learn, is the foundation for continuous learning. Skillful coaching enables everyone to share information and experience with others. As a result, organizations become more competitive through the internal sharing of knowledge and skills.

Coaching requires paying careful attention. By asking questions to help people apply their knowledge and listening carefully to let people know they are understood.

Below is a list of general guidelines for behaviour that helps put most (not all) people at ease. When you use the guidelines, watch for the effect your verbal and nonverbal behaviours are having. If the person you are coaching seems uncomfortable, adjust your behaviour accordingly.

Review the techniques listed below and place a check mark next to those you make a conscious effort to use.
Do not allow outside interruptions or distractions.
Face the person you are coaching.
Keep your body language open.
Lean forward.
Maintain good eye contact and Nod.
Give short verbal responses like uh-huh, mmm, I see, okay or I understand.
Remain silent for a moment to give the person a chance to respond.
Ask open-ended questions that begin with what, how, how much, tell me, describe, or explain.
Limit your use of closed-ended questions beginning with words such as can, is, or will.
Paraphrase what the person has said to check for understanding.
Acknowledge the emotions of the person you are coaching.
From time to time, summarize what you have heard.

1. Identify an opportunity to help someone expand on his or her skills, knowledge, and abilities.
Coaching is a chance to help someone enhance his or her performance and add value to the organization. Sometimes, people may ask you for coaching, but do not wait for that to happen. Learn to identify coaching opportunities and act on them at any time.

2. Confirm that the person is ready for coaching.
Before coaching, make sure the person is open to it. If the person seems hesitant, you might try explaining the benefits, but do not insist on coaching someone who simply is not receptive.

3. Ask questions and offer information to clarify the situation.
Much of coaching involves helping people clarify situations in their own minds. Often, the best way to do this is by asking questions that encourage them to think through the situation aloud.

4. Help the person identify possible actions.
The best coaching enables people to think and act on their own. As you help someone identify immediate actions, you are also preparing the person to work through similar issues without your help.

5. Gain agreement on a course of action.
In coaching, you help someone plan how to handle a situation. To be certain that the session results in positive action, help the person develop an action plan for how to proceed.

6. Offer your support.
The ultimate goal of coaching is to enable a person to act independently. Most people need reassurance and support before they can reach that goal. As a coach, you need to let the person know you are available to give further assistance, or further coaching, when it is needed.

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