Coaching

by Jeremy Cassell and Tom Bird

Specific applications of coaching

Some particular situations lend themselves well to coaching, including the following.

Performance appraisal

Use coaching in performance appraisal meetings to

  • agree motivational goals for the next appraisal period
  • raise awareness after giving feedback
  • analyse any gaps in performance
  • brainstorm possible actions to close any gaps
  • agree firm action plans.

Using coaching in this way will build a sense of responsibility and accountability for performance. It could be combined with articulating the required levels or standards of performance (telling) and a discussion about the benefits of achieving these and the consequences of not achieving them (see Appraisals).

Developing a new skill

Particularly useful after someone has been on a training course, coaching in this area supports and encourages the transfer of learning and knowledge into the workplace, converting it into new skills, behaviours or activities. Coaching can help an individual come up with an action plan and monitor and develop progress over time. Without this embedding of learning, a significant training investment can yield a very limited return.

Talent management

Having highlighted an individual with potential for promotion, coaching is a powerful approach to help foster responsibility for their own performance and development, and enable them to develop in their own way. Your coaching can help them focus on aspects of their impact on and habitual approaches to work and problem-solving, as well as address specific presenting issues and encourage more generic learning from these experiences.

Developing perspective

You could have an individual who is performing well but lacks a broader perspective that might improve their performance, their ability to interact more effectively with others inside or outside the business and their understanding of the role. Coaching is a good tool for raising awareness and encouraging the reflection so useful in developing perspective.

Leading others

Leadership requires an understanding of self and the impact of behaviours and leadership style on others. There is no single correct way to lead, so coaching can bring to an individual an awareness of their own leadership style and their strengths and areas for development. Coaching, in itself, is an important and effective leadership style.

Personal impact

An individual may not be aware of the impact of their behaviour on others and how they might be perceived by others. While you can give them feedback on this, coaching can help them to manage the situation effectively, reflect on what they can do differently and decide how they will develop new behaviours, creating both awareness and accountability.

Resolving specific issues

Where you have identified a specific issue – perhaps around an unwanted or unsuitable behaviour at work, a relationship that could be more effective or an individual who is ‘stuck’ with a particular problem and can’t see how to address it – then coaching can often bring new awareness and resolution. Often, the temptation is to simply tell someone what we would do or how we would solve the problem, but coaching will help the individual solve the issue for themselves with the associated learning and development.

Managing change

Change is a constant feature of our business world. How we deal with change is an individual matter. We may be faced with certain business imperatives, but we want people to be motivated to come with us and to deal with change in their own way. Coaching provides a way to engage individuals in finding their own way to deal with change, in understanding and raising awareness of the barriers, and in finding strategies to overcome these.

Coaching for action

Today’s business environment often means that coaching is about moving something forward – committing to action. Whether it is around getting clear on an action plan or creating some momentum to drive a situation forward, it is important not just to make a decision but to take action.