Australia has not been as quick to embrace coaching as a methodology for change in workplaces as fast as some other countries. Traditionally coaching has been limited to the top executives. However we are now seeing the real emergence of coaching as an integral part of leadership and team development.
When the leaders within a team adopt coaching as their default position, significant benefits can occur. When it is a leaders preference to use coaching skills, to ask questions rather than giving solutions, to hold back and listen, and to prefer to coach and grow people rather than simply making them do what they want, that’s when you have a coaching culture within your work place.
When coaching becomes part of the culture of an organisation, it allows the best to be elicited from individuals and teams, innovation, and creativity are actively encouraged and every person’s opinion counts, and miracle of miracles, people take time to listen.
But….. What is Coaching?
Coaching is a powerful technique of listening and questioning which allows the individual to gain self-awareness and identify where they are now, where they want to be and the options they have to move forward. A person can develop insights and taken the actions they need to achieve their own personal or team goals.
What coaching is not!
Many people in workplaces regard themselves as coaches – but in truth they may actually be managing, mentoring, training and motivating. Are they asking their team’s opinions, or are they simply problem solving and making the decisions themselves?
Coaching is not telling people what to do or giving them advice, coaching is not filtering what is wrong and right according to your own perceptions and jumping in to finish someone’s sentence because you know what they are going to say. Coaching is not focusing on the past. Coaching is not seeking excuses or blame. Coaching is not eliminating options based on the criteria that “it won’t work”.
Coaching is asking people great questions and seeking their opinion first, stopping to listen without judgement, empowering others to find solutions and take accountability. Coaching helps people to look for possibilities and focuses on the present and moving forward, to set goals and make commitment toward action.
Coaching is not mentoring, managing, counselling or training. In these methodologies, you normally have a subject matter expert which imparts knowledge to another. But in coaching it is the individual who is considered the subject matter expert. They know best how to motivate self, look at personal solutions and empowerment. A coach’s role is simply to facilitate this thinking and ask great questions.
Sir John Whitmore reminds us that with all coaching, the focus is about assisting the person you are coaching to develop self-awareness and then building confidence in them to take responsibility for their actions.
Basically your agenda with coaching is to give a person a fishing rod instead of throwing them a fish.
So consider some great coaching questions the next time you feel a tendency to offer a solution when you see one of your team members is stuck. Consider asking:
· What have you tried so far?
· What else could you do?
· What are you making that mean?
· What control do you have?
· What are you willing to let go of?
· What is missing?
· What is your plan?
· How are you thinking of achieving that and moving forward?
· When did you decide it was too hard?
· What can you do to make it easier?
Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing. You can find her at www.bakjacconsulting.com or firstname.lastname@example.org