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Coaching for Success-A Guide for Leaders, Managers & HR Professionals


{#/pub/images/coachingforsuccess.jpg}Frequently in the business environment we assess managerial capabilities based upon that individual’s ability to be a successful coach. The definition of being a coach can take on many meanings. However all can be summarized as simply; coaching is a set of practices, means and methods, designed to unlock a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. 


The purpose of this article is to expand on this definition and explore several fundamentals and approaches to coaching, to provide a guideline and roadmap to the methods of successful coaching and to suggest an approach to convert coaching theory into practice. It is important to note that the guidelines are just that, guidelines. The effectiveness of coaching will certainly be dependent upon the skills of the coach, the receptiveness of the person being coached and the overall impact of the organizational environment. Organizations that embrace coaching establish a culture of acceptance, those that feel the processes are not part of their best practice will create an environment that ultimately undermines the opportunity to provide coaching. 


Three Phases of Coaching

Putting the organization aside for the moment, there are three phases to successful coaching, each building on its previous phase and collectively directed at improving the opportunity.


I. Awareness

Is the person to be coached aware of his/her actions and behaviors that position them as a candidate for coaching? If one is unaware that particular actions or behaviors are negatively impacting performance then direct intervention by the manager to present the observations is required.


II. Acceptance

An individual that refuses to accept the observations will only do lip service to any coaching attempts. The traditional feeling of that is simply your impression and not reality – the crossing of the arms syndrome closes the door to productive coaching.


III. Action

Being aware of and accepting the need for coaching opens the door for developing corresponding actions.  This is not intended as psychoanalysis, but rather defining agreed to steps that can be measured and provide accountability.


Awareness is perhaps the most challenging phase as few of us like to learn that there are performance issues associated with our daily work. So how do you, as the potential coach, determine if in fact there is acceptance? Acceptance can be summarized in looking at three fundamental determinants:


1. Make sure the person to be coached is ready for change.


a. Show empathy and interest in their situation.

b. Create a relationship where they will want the coach’s help.

c. Ask them what they believe will happen if they don’t change. 


2. Determine if the person is motivated to do something differently.


a. Understand what motivates them in their job.

b. Focus on aligning the desired change to support the areas of motivation.


3. Ensure that the person being coached is ready to take ownership and responsibility for the change.


a. Reinforce their strengths and their understanding that they are in control of their time, schedule and actions.

b. Make certain they know that you, the coach, is ready to help as needed.



Several Key Fundamentals of Coaching

Recall that coaching is a means of unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. You, as a coach, cannot put yourself in their shoes, but rather lay the direction, support and foundation to be an effective director. To best position oneself as an effective coach, consider the following fundamentals of coaching:

    • The objectives of coaching must be clear to both parties.

    • Listening is always more important than talking.

    • Coaches don’t provide the answers.

    • Coaching must not include personal criticism of the person being coached.

    • Coaching does include giving critical feedback.

    • Coaching is a developmental process and exercise not an evaluation.

    • Coaching is only effective when it is invited or at least welcomed.

    • Some individuals can’t be improved through coaching and good coaches recognize this. 


Like any other skill, coaching can be learned and perfected through practice. As a manager or leader we ultimately benefit from helping those around us improve performance. If we lay a basic assumption that all that come to work want to do a good job, then we have an obligation and opportunity to help.



{#/pub/images/DavidShafferPhoto.jpg}Written by David Shaffer, Partner and Director Consulting Services, David Shaffer Consulting LLC   Recognized for his ability to effectively integrate all aspects of business including financial management, information systems, infrastructure, sales management, sales strategies and operations. David assists companies from executive strategic planning through operational and business process improvement opportunities to the selection and integration of Management Information Systems solutions. He also supports Private Equity firms in due diligence activities extending from strategic planning into leadership development and CEO mentoring. His range of company support includes start up through fortune 500.



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