Coaching is the skill of encouraging a coachee to discover a pathway to enable them to solve or address an issue or feeling. Using open questioning, coaching enables the coachee to consider the wider picture and allows many avenues and feelings to be explored, which, may not have been explored before. It is hoped that this exploration will lead the coachee to identify the best pathway for them to take to enable them to solve or address an issue or concern.
Coaching varies from mentoring; suggestions and advice is offered during mentoring of the best pathway or solution to reach a desired and defined outcome and the mentor is required to hold a certain deal of knowledge of the subject being discussed. On the contrary, coaching requires no specific knowledge of the topic being discussed.
The purpose of coaching in the workplace is varied.
Coaching can make an employee feel valued and can allow for an employee to discuss issues in a safe environment in a confidential and one to one basis. During a scenario of conflict with in a team coaching can be used to open up a dialogue to explore the issues in more detail. As suggested by Rebecca Foreman (www.personneltoday.com) having open and honest coaching conversations can help employees to “understand the impact of their own behaviour on conflict; build confidence around managing difficult conversations; and deal more effectively with issues associated with perceptions of inequality, bullying and harassment.”
It allows the employee to be heard, which in some cases can reduce the need for sickness absence in the workplace. Coaching can also help to reduce staff turnover within organisations, however, as explained by Namrata Arora (libraryofprofessionalcoaching.com) “while coaching cannot help address all issues that drive employees to leave, coaching can be introduced at various junctures in an organisation to engage employees”. This suggests that continual engagement with employees can help to safeguard and protect an organisations staff turnover and its valued employees, thus building resilience within the workplace.
The role of an effective workplace coach is to organise the coaching sessions and to agree the minimum amount of sessions that will take place initially. A discussion regarding the expected conduct of both parties, particularly confidentiality is essential as Stephen M.R.Covey explains, “the foundation of trust in the coaching relationship is that the coachee has a rock solid belief that the conversation is totally and completely confidential” (http://yourleadershipunleashed.com). This helps to establish important rapport between the coach and coachee. It is important that the coach and coachee have good rapport, however, if this is not the case then the coachee should be offered an alternative coach in order to maximise the effectiveness of the sessions. This is important because in order for the coaching sessions to be productive the relationship needs to be comfortable.
A contract should be agreed with the coachee and brief details of the topic to be discussed should be obtained. This discussion should include an indication of the goals and targets to be achieved during the sessions.
The coach is responsible for taking clear notes during the sessions for reflection at a later date, whilst actively listening to the coachee and showing empathy.