A guide to helping people to succeed at work

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1 Coaching: Helping you to improve social outcomes A guide to helping people to succeed at work This guide is for anyone wanting to use coaching skills to help colleagues succeed. In particular, it is intended for managers and those with responsibility for enabling staff. Coaching is a rapidly growing method for helping people to improve, develop, learn new skills, find personal success, achieve aims, manage change and overcome personal challenges. It can be used both in our professional and in our personal lives. This guide will concentrate on the former, providing an overview of what coaching is, how it can be used, by whom, when and where, and how to access it. Introduction Developing coaching skills helps managers meet a number of typical People Management Competencies. For example, coaching skills enable managers to: Manage individuals effectively to create a high performing team Provide leadership, direction and feedback on individual and team goals Facilitate the training and development of appropriate skills within the team Encourage personal development and helps others to learn Foster effective two-way communication. Coaching may also benefit organisations by: Increasing staff commitment and satisfaction, which can lead to improved performance and retention Equipping managers with a powerful tool to handle change Enabling people to deal with conflict in a positive, transparent way Demonstrating to staff that the organisation is committed to developing them and helping them improve their skills Supporting staff who have been promoted to succeed with new responsibilities and to be accountable Supporting implementation of other training and development outcomes Improving people management and development.

2 Those receiving coaching benefit by: Learning to solve their own problems and be accountable Improving work-related skills and performance Addressing personal issues that might otherwise affect their performance at work Learning how to identify and act on development needs Having greater confidence and accepting responsibility Becoming more effective and assertive in dealing with people Having a positive impact on inter-personal relationships Developing greater self-awareness and gaining new perspectives on ability Acquiring new skills and abilities Developing greater adaptability to change Reducing stress levels. Coaching benefits teams by: Encouraging communication and feedback between team members Developing openness to new ways of working Working in a culture of shared understanding, possibilities, options and decision-making. Managers gain from using coaching by: Taking time to understand an issue that is affecting the performance of a team member / colleague Demonstrating commitment to supporting and developing the skills, knowledge and abilities of a team member / colleague Developing skills that are valued and transferable across many roles within work and outside Developing effective working relationships with staff making the responsibility of managing them more constructive and rewarding Developing reciprocity in the working relationship leading to opportunities for effective delegation Promoting effective change management and leadership of problem resolution. What is coaching? Coaching is concerned with getting the best out of people, through helping them to realise their potential and ensuring that they have the skills, understanding, knowledge and motivation to succeed. Coaching is directly linked to change in that it is about helping the person move from a stuck or challenging place to an improved position or place (e.g. helping someone shift their perspective, level of confidence, skill, motivation, attitude). Based on the belief that we can create conditions to support people to succeed, coaching can be defined simply as skilful questioning to bring out the best in people, helping them achieve their goals more effectively. Coaching or mentoring? Coaching and mentoring share some common features and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. This may be because both take place on a 1:1 basis, with a view to helping people to develop knowledge and skills. They both involve defining goals and outcomes, confidentiality agreements, careful questioning and considerate listening to explore issues and aims. Goals may be similar, focusing on professional growth, career development, reaching specific short or longterm objectives. Both coaching and mentoring arrangements may involve drawing up a formal agreement regarding the number and frequency of sessions, timeframes and record keeping. COACHING Coaches need not have first hand experience of the coachee s line of work. Coaches will ask powerful questions and not offer or give advice Line managers can use coaching approaches successfully in the management and development of team members.

3 MENTORING Mentoring is a planned pairing of a more skilled or experienced person (usually in the same field of work) with a less experienced person. Ideally mentors have no line management relationship to the mentee. Mentors will often provide direction and advice and should open organisational doors for mentees. Mentors can provide a neutral 'sounding board', assure total confidentiality, and have no agenda other than assisting their mentees in their development and to reach their goals. Coaching in the workplace Professional coaching In this context, professional coaches (who are external or internal and frequently referred to as executive or senior management coaches) work with senior people to develop their capacities in leadership and management, at both strategic and operational levels. They frequently have experience as senior members/directors of organisations, hold a coaching qualification, undertake regular supervision of their work and maintain a CPD portfolio. Where a professional coach comes from within an organisation he or she should be external to the working environment of the coachee. Professional coaching is particularly helpful where an objective perspective of an issue or dilemma is beneficial or where confidentiality may be a particular issue. Individuals who benefit from coaching from a professional coach are likely to have significant organisational responsibility and be accountable for a wide portfolio of strategic and/or operational, corporate and/or departmental performance, quality assurance, senior staff and/or significant numbers of people or projects. There will be clear expectations within their role to lead and manage organisational change and improvements effectively and within the resources available. Using a professional coach requires a significant investment in, and commitment to, the person being coached. It offers the long-term prospect that the individual will be self sufficient in providing solutions to a variety of significant multi-faceted workplace problems. Professional coaching is usually time limited. Manager as coach The knowledge and skills of managers and leaders extend across a variety of subject and work areas in addition to their management role. Responsibility for the contribution and effective performance of groups/team(s) involves sharing expertise with colleagues on a regular basis. Combining this with a coaching style of management, which encourages individuals to find their own successful ways of working is one facet of effective leadership and management. Managers frequently use coaching skills to enable staff to be successful in their role, varying their style according to individual needs, and the situation at the time. When and where to use coaching Coaching can take place at any time during the working day when assistance is needed or requested by a colleague or team member to: Deal with dilemmas about change Develop new work-related skills or behaviours Enhance their knowledge Develop their career Overcome difficulties in their team, task or role. Coaching can be used when a significant discussion about work, or even non-work related matters, would be helpful in order to help generate or re-discover motivation in the workplace. It is a valuable skill to use during appraisal and during conversations about performance that take place either formally or informally.

4 How to coach in your daily work These principles underpin good coaching: Listening is more important than talking Understand what motivates people Everyone is capable of achieving more People s past need not be an indication of their future People's beliefs about what is possible for themselves are their only limits Coaches do not provide the answers except if asked, or if specialist/ technical input is required Coaching does not include criticising. Listening and the effective use of questions are foundation skills for coaching. Body language, tone of voice, and the physical environment provide nonverbal cues and it is crucial to understand and be sensitive to these. G.R.O.W. (John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance, 1992) is one effective model for managers seeking to adopt a staff-centred approach to coaching. The following sequence of questions may be a useful starting point: Goal: What is your goal? What are you aiming to achieve/solve? What aspect of this would you like to discuss/ work on first? What specifically needs to change? How does this contribute to longer-term aims? Reality: What is the current reality? How far are you from your goal? What is stopping you reaching it? What have you tried so far? What influencing factors are there? What assumptions are being made that have/ have not been explored? Options: What could you do to change things? What other options do you have? What are the pros and cons? What/who do you need to help you? What resources/skills do you already have? Which option would you most like to act on? Way forward: Which of these actions are you going to take? When will you do what? What helps/hinders progress? What support might you need to ensure you take action and how can you get it? G.R.O.W. is just one framework for effective coaching.the following structure is also effective: Agree the topic This may: Be identified naturally Be required because of organisational change Be identified through appraisal Arise from the individual s role. Topics need to be agreed between coach and coachee, as learner commitment is essential for success. Identify the goals It is essential to be specific about the long-term aim as well as the particular aim for the coaching session. These should be as S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, and Timed) as possible. Promote discovery The coach can do this by active listening, drawing out the consequences and sharing experience.

5 Agree parameters You have agreed the topic, set goals, discussed options and shared experiences. Now be specific about what is to be done and by when. This is particularly important when individuals are taking on a new task that needs to be carefully monitored. Authorise and empower Consider what authority the individual requires to carry out actions between now and the next session and who else needs to be informed. Your help will enable them to maintain their selfmotivation and help them avoid or break through barriers. Recap At the end of the session ensure the individual is clear about what to do next. Should you want to learn more about coaching in the management role there are a range of coaching models that provide helpful frameworks to the process. The most prevalent of these is the GROW model (touched on above), which can be used as a script for the coach to follow. Coaching and staff appraisal The annual performance appraisal is an opportunity to enhance employee performance and create greater success for your organisation. Coaching skills can be used to create a good performance appraisal experience for both the manager and team member and can keep the member of staff motivated throughout the year. Feedback from appraisers and appraisees across many organisations suggests that appraisals are becoming more beneficial as a useful management tool for developing people. With the manager using coaching skills committed to the appraisee s success, the atmosphere can change significantly and the experience can be more rewarding and productive. Simple coaching questions can reframe the appraisal experience, creating a positive, goaloriented environment. Here are some useful questions you might like to ask during the appraisal meeting: What is the objective/issue/dilemma? Whose issue is it? What is going well/ what is working (even if only partially)? How can we build on this success? What would be ideal? What is do-able? How does this make you feel? What are the challenges you are dealing with? What resources do you need? What are your next steps? Coaching is ideally suited to setting positive objectives because the process is iterative, requiring discussion and refinement along the way. It is about meeting with staff regularly, reviewing the goals and creating new plans for the coming period. One way of doing this is to use regular team meetings to review the vision and the accomplishments of the team, reflecting on what s going well and, when progress is slow towards an objective, coaching skills can help to explore and pin point what the problem is and how to change it to make progress. The aim should be improved two-way communication that will increase team members motivation and ability to make progress. Team coaching also develops the management role into one of both leader and partner, working with solutions from within the team to significantly improve results. Has coaching made an impact? This is an important question to ask about any management and leadership activity. As a manager you will want to know whether the team member has become more effective in the area addressed. The person coached will want to see some results too. It is important to review the outcome soon after a new skill or behaviour has been practiced and later as learning deepens. The iterative nature of coaching means that questions can be discussed regularly.

6 Recipients of effective coaching invariably find it a positive experience as the following testimonials illustrate: The main value of coaching is to focus on a small number of current dilemmas, discuss them and come up with ways forward. The coach always got me to suggest options of the way forward. Personally I feel I have benefited by having a person with whom I can share dilemmas. It helps to be asked questions that one might not ask oneself when too close to the situation. Voicing one s thoughts and beliefs to a person who was neutral made me think about what I was saying. The coach also asked me questions that made me make links to different aspects of myself and I realised that techniques I applied to one part of my life could be applied to other areas. Recording your coaching If you are a manager, it will be helpful for your continuing professional development to keep a record of the instances where you use coaching. This will enable you to reflect on and improve your coaching skills. It is also important for your line manager and organisation to understand the impact that coaching is having. Adapted from a University College London (UCL) document Helping you to improve social outcomes

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