You’ve probably heard people talking about coaching in the workplace. You might have even received some coaching in the past, or you might have used coaching to improve a person’s performance, even if you didn’t actually describe it as “coaching” at the time.
But what actually is coaching, and how do you use it? And what skills do you need to be an effective coach?
In this article, we’ll look at the basics of coaching in the workplace. We’ll clarify what it involves, and review the key approaches that you can use to be a successful coach. We’ll also review some situations where coaching can be useful, and look at some examples of coaching questions.
Coaching is a useful way of developing people’s skills and abilities, and of boosting performance. It can also help deal with issues and challenges before they become major problems.
A coaching session will typically take place as a conversation between the coach and the coachee (person being coached), and it focuses on helping the coachee discover answers for themselves. After all, people are much more likely to engage with solutions that they have come up with themselves, rather than those that are forced upon them!
In some organizations, coaching is still seen as a corrective tool, used only when things have gone wrong. But in many companies, coaching is considered to be a positive and proven approach for helping others explore their goals and ambitions, and then achieve them.
Coaches in the workplace are not counselors, psychotherapists, gurus, teachers, trainers, or consultants – although they may use some of the same skills and tools.
Most formal, professional coaching is carried out by qualified people who work with clients to improve their effectiveness and performance, and help them achieve their full potential. Coaches can be hired by coachees, or by their organizations. Coaching on this basis works best when everyone clearly understands the reason for hiring a coach, and when they jointly set the expectations for what they want to achieve through coaching.
However, managers and leaders in the organization can be just as effective as externally hired coaches. Managers don’t have to be trained formally as coaches. As long as they stay within the scope of their skill set, and maintain a structured approach, they can add value, and help develop their people’s skills and abilities.