10 Mar Conditions for Coaching

By Wendy Harbutt, FInstLM

What conditions are required for coaching to be successful?  Here we consider the elements that influence the outcome – from beliefs, to culture and, ultimately, to commitment.

Conditions for effective coaching begin at the level of beliefs:  Whether or not various stakeholders believe in the value of a coaching approach will be pivotal to the success of any intervention as it will determine the extent to which those involved will be open to the process, engage with it and draw value from it.

Fundamental is that a belief in the process is held by the individual being coached, in order that they accept the support, engage with the coach and value the intervention sufficiently to act following it.  Any resistance, whether conscious or subconscious will impede the effectiveness of the intervention.  Conscious resistance may create an obvious barrier to progress, however subconscious resistance can stem from a strong connection to the past and be just as obstructive, as exemplified by Goldsmith; “The same beliefs that have helped you to get where you are may be the same ones that are holding you back from where you want to go.”

Other important stakeholders within the organisation include the senior leadership.  For coaching to be successful it relies upon the belief of those directing the organisation.  They will convey, both directly and indirectly, their belief (or lack of it) and thus influence the culture of the organisation.  This important group may steer whether there is widespread acceptance and engagement with any coaching programme.  It is advisable that this group be engaged and their ‘buy-in’ achieved before embarking on any coaching activity.

For every individual being coached there will be an influential group that surrounds them; their family, their friends, peers, subordinates and superiors.  Those held in regard by the individual may have power to influence them and thus the view of coaching held by this group can also have impact upon its success.

Beyond the stakeholder group, we should also consider the broader cultural norms of the society within which the target for coaching or mentoring lives.  Prevailing views held within that wider body will also be influential.  As an example of this, in some countries (for example Holland) the translation of the word ‘coaching’ is associated with psychological support and is therefore to some extend stigmatised.  This fact is hard to work around so how the intervention is presented and explained to the target group must be carefully positioned to avoid negative beliefs being associated with it.

As the above example illustrates, it is important to consider the perceived application of coaching understood by those involved.  In some organisations coaching is routinely used to support those underperforming.  Whilst it is also used to develop talent within the organisation, the fact that it is used remedially means that the reputation of coaching within the organisation is that those involved are ‘in difficulty’ and hence often subtly excluded by others.  This may create distrust surrounding the coaching programme and cause anxiety for any individual offered such support, whatever the reason.  Working overtly with the leadership of the organisation may seek to redress this biased belief, as can group coaching.

Whitmore suggests that “People are cynical of any new approach,” so if coaching and mentoring is newly introduced to an organisation there may be latent resistance.  He goes on to suggest that communication is part of the solution to this; making it clear what will be done differently and why.  Communication could be argued to be important whatever the culture within the organisation.  If many people begin to speak positively about coaching then its reputation will be enhanced.

Time is also an important factor for the success of coaching.  Those involved will need to devote sufficient time to the process to create success.  For coaching to be effective, significant commitment is required from both parties involved.  For programmes to be successful, those being coached must make a commitment to every aspect of the work, not just the coaching conversation.

Finally, coaching requires delivery by those having all appropriate competencies.  The list is extensive and the ability of the coach be critical to the success of the outcome. domain on graph . translator directory what is dns . blackboard uncp .

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