What is Coaching?
Coaching is a way of treating people, recognising that they have knowledge, opinions, ideas, problem solving skills, beliefs and values of their own.
Coaching is not about telling, but exploring the possibilities and options available to the other person through effective questioning. A coach does not have all the answers but the skills of enquiry to help another find them.
Jackie Arnold states in Coaching Skills for Leaders in the Workplace that
"Coaching is a way of encouraging and supporting someone to achieve a goal or to develop or acquire skills. The focus of coaching is the individual being coached (the coachee). The coach makes interventions to support the coachee to move forward and to take responsibility for their own decisions and actions. Although a coach need not have knowledge or expertise in any areas of their coachees' work, they are skilled professionals trained in methods and processes that enable their coachees to develop and change positively"
Whitmore (1992) proposes that
"coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them".
The European Mentoring & Coaching Council recognise that
"coaching is facilitating the client's learning process by using professional methods and techniques to help the client to improve what is obstructive and nurture what is effective, in order to reach the client's goals"
Even though there are differences in definitions and there is a wide range of applications, the main aspects of coaching include a helping, collaborative and collaborative rather than directional relationship between coach and coachee.
There is a focus on finding solutions in preference to digging into the problem. There is an emphasis on goal-setting; and the recognition that although the coach needs expertise in facilitating learning through coaching, the coach does not necessarily need a high degree of personal experience in the client's chosen area of learning.
Many coaches may well have considerable knowledge and expertise in the specific issues, and they bring this knowledge to the coaching relationship but mainly to demonstrate the understanding rather than give the answer.
As Cavanagh suggests
"The skillful and experienced coach knows when to move across the ask-tell dimension, and knows when to promote self-discovery and when to give expert-based authoritative or specialised information".
Coaching Skills for Leaders in the Workplace - Jackie Arnold - 2009 - ISBN: 9781845283186
Evidence-based coaching Volume 1 Theory, research and practice from the behavioural sciences edited by Michael Cavanagh Anthony M. Grant Travis Kemp - ISBN 1 875378 57 X.
Want to know more? Why not try our Coaching at Work online video training course.