Coaching Yourself

by Melanie Greene

Common questions

  1. What does coaching yourself involve?
  2. I’m a busy person, how much time will this take?
  3. How will I know if I am improving?
  4. Is it possible to learn from successes as well as failures?
  5. When something goes wrong, why should I want to revisit it?
  6. How will coaching myself help me with the other development activities I am undertaking?
  7. Will this work for technical and non-technical skills?
  8. Will coaching myself be taken into account in my appraisal and performance management process?
  9. How can I encourage others to coach themselves?

 

1. What does coaching yourself involve?

It involves reflecting on what you are doing day to day or on courses that you have attended. The aim is to identify what you have learned and plan how you can put that learning into practice. Perhaps, for example, you have chaired a meeting that was particularly difficult. You would spend a few minutes afterwards reflecting on

  • What you did that went well
  • How else you could have handled it
  • When and where you might apply what you have learned.

Coaching yourself is a skill and it needs practising. Like any skill, it will eventually become habitual and part of how you think and operate from day to day.

For some people it will be a daily activity, while others turn to it during a crisis or challenging times, to reflect on what they need to do next. Different people will do it in different ways. You need to find a way that suits you.

It can involve:

  • Self observation and reflection
  • Asking for and using feedback
  • Planning out what you want to do in different situations and then observing how things have gone
  • Realistically and constructively debriefing yourself after events to learn from your successes, mistakes or challenging times.

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2. I’m a busy person, how much time will this take?

In the long run, coaching yourself can actually save you time as you become more effective, efficient and enhance your performance.

It can also maximise your return on money invested in any training courses, workshops or qualifications that you undertake. By coaching yourself, you will be able to apply more of what you learn, further develop yourself and gain greater benefits from any formal development you undertake.

As with any skill, it takes time for you to master it and for it to become second nature. Once this happens, you will find it easy to coach yourself on a regular basis.

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3. How will I know if I am improving?

This is a common concern that people have. However, self coaching rarely happens in isolation. It includes asking others for feedback and support to assist you in the process. We will explore whom you can ask for feedback and support, and how to make sure that it is constructive and meets your needs. You might also want to look at the topic on Feedback for more information. Coaching yourself can also feed into your appraisal and performance management process as you will be in a better position to know if and how you have improved because you are coaching yourself.

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4. Is it possible to learn from successes as well as failures?

The answer is yes. In fact, it is essential if you are going to repeat those successes and maintain good performance. By coaching yourself, you can identify exactly why something went well, what is it that you did that made the difference and how you can repeat it in future situations.

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5. When something goes wrong, why should I want to revisit it?

Some people find it difficult to learn from ‘failures’ because they spend so long beating themselves up or feeling foolish that they don’t actually learn from these experiences and therefore avoid them in the future. The page on realistic debriefing will help you to debrief in a balanced way to assist you in learning rather than falling into a negative spiral when things go wrong.

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6. How will coaching myself help me with the other development activities I am undertaking?

Coaching yourself is a valid learning and development activity that will fit in with and enhance anything else you are doing to further your development. For example, self coaching would assist you in getting more out of attending a management development programme, as you would observe and reflect on your own behaviour during the programme and when you were back at work.

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7. Will this work for technical and non-technical skills?

Whether what you are learning is technical or non-technical, coaching yourself will help you to reflect on what you learn and to apply it in the work place. If you are undertaking Continued Professional Development (CPD) as part of your professional development, self coaching will also assist you with this process. With CPD you need to be able to reflect on your learning so you can report on what you have learned from the activities you have undertaken.

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8. Will coaching myself be taken into account in my appraisal and performance management process?

Firstly, coaching yourself will help you to prepare and take an active part in any appraisal or performance management process, as you will have a clearer understanding of your strengths, areas for development and lessons learned. Secondly, in most organisations managers would take into account any learning and development that has resulted from coaching yourself. You might want to discuss with your manager how both of you can weave it into the appraisal and performance management process.

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9. How can I encourage others to coach themselves?

Exhibiting the behaviour is the starting point. If others see how you do it and are aware how it benefits both you and them, they will be encouraged to do it for themselves. If you are coaching others, you can assist them, through your questions, to start the process of coaching themselves.

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