Coaching is a recognised technique in the development of individuals’ performance as skills and knowledge are deepened and goals are set. Choosing the right coach to help achieve those goals is crucial, says Judith Barton and Martin Hill from the British School of Coaching. They told People Management about their five C’s of coaching.
Before you embark upon the process of selecting a coach, you need to ensure you are clear about what outcome you wish to achieve. This is frequently the main cause of disappointment, or at worst, failure. If you are not clear what the ultimate aim of the coaching is, it will be almost impossible to set any meaningful matrices to measure the success of the intervention. What is it that you are seeking to achieve? What needs to change? What aspect do you need the support of the coach for? Does the coach need to have wider skills or knowledge to draw upon to support that aim?
At present, coaching is an unregulated industry and anyone can describe themselves as a coach. Recent surveys of HR professionals and other coaching buyers have highlighted that consumers are becoming even more diligent in their enquiries of prospective coaches.
There are a number of questions you could ask when hiring a coach: What is their coaching qualification? How many coaching hours have they undertaken? What are their supervision arrangements for their practice? Are they a member of a recognised professional coaching body? If a coach specialises in a particular area, how have they developed their knowledge and skills? Do they have an understanding of your industry, sector, and profession?
Coaching should be a relationship based on equality. The coach is not there to act as an expert or to advise – they are there to act in an objective, non-judgmental manner and to provide a challenge to the client’s thoughts and ideas and help them achieve their desired outcome.
Good coaches will include the client in the design of the contract that will regulate their contractual relationship; setting the boundaries; specifying the roles of both parties; describing the methodology to be used.
While we would argue it is impossible to predict at the outset the number of sessions necessary to make progress, there are so many variables to a successful session. From our experience, significant progress can be made in three coaching sessions. To make this progress, coaches must have the skills and experience, there must be a ‘fit’ with the client and the definition of a successful session must be identified. Refining a client’s initial desired outcome is more often than not the focus of the first session.
Other variables we believe make a positive contribution to the session are environment: where will the session take place? If it’s within an organisation, is it separate to the client’s area of work? One organisation we work with in the UAE decided to convert a small building in the grounds that is separate to the main building to be their coaching suite. Clients said “the five minute walk created space to think” and “the separate facility signalled coaching, that it’s time for me.”