Gary Cattermole looks at how coaching can be used to help to clarify issues, goals and aspirations, and who can benefit.
Most of the time we are so busy getting work done that it’s difficult to take time out to look at what we do, how we do it and why. However, taking time out for some coaching can be invaluable, and can prove time-saving in the long run, as it helps us to focus on what’s most important and the strategic steps to take towards our most pressing objectives. Coaching not only helps to identify problems, it can also help to pinpoint new opportunities and develop strategic thought and decision-making skills.
Coaching certainly should not be a box ticking exercise or something that we do because it’s fashionable. So what should you expect it to achieve, how often should you have coaching and who will benefit from it?
What can coaching offer?
Essentially, coaching should provide time to stop, reflect, to look at the issues facing us and to clarify what we want to achieve. Unlike counselling, which we typically regard as something we turn to in times of trouble, coaching can be a really useful tool for those who are already doing well, as well as those who may be struggling or just wondering what to prioritise next. Like counselling, the process should lead you to clear insights.
If challenged, and given enough time, most of us would be able to identify the issues that we face, the frustrations that we experience and to see the opportunities that we might be missing. What happens whilst working every day, however, is that we don’t usually make the time to do this. Coaching helps us to ringfence the time that will enable us to do this and provides us with a guide.
The most effective coaching draws out the answers from the manager or executive themselves.
Almost anyone with any management responsibility will have to be wearing several hats, will be juggling more than one area of responsibility, and increasingly, will be responding to multiple calls on their time and attention. Add to this the post COVID landscape in which they may be managing some, if not all, of their team remotely, or in a hybrid setting, and almost anyone in a position of responsibility could benefit from some coaching.
A great coach will not tell you what you should do. It’s very rare indeed that they will know your business better than you do yourself, and it’s also most unlikely that you are doing badly. For a start, if you are calling in a coach, you have probably identified some of the issues and challenges that you are facing, and that’s often the first step towards progress and breakthrough.
A great coach will help you to lay out and examine the issues, reflecting your findings back to you so that you can see your best course of action. They will offer you a different viewpoint; this can be merely interesting, or it can revolutionise your thinking. They may highlight different options to consider and they may give advice, but I am a firm believer that most people have the answer within themselves. Your coach should guide you towards formulating strategies and finding solutions for yourself. After all, if you work out the solution for yourself, you are more likely to implement it.
How often should you have coaching?
As with most things, this will depend on your role, your responsibilities and what you are hoping to achieve. In the face of a particularly difficult challenge, a short burst of three to six one to one sessions can be truly instrumental in finding your way through a tricky situation and achieving breakthrough, which is almost inevitably followed by quantifiable progress.
However, it’s worth factoring an occasional coaching session into your ongoing career, even when things are going well. In these circumstances, taking time out to look at goals and priorities allows space for innovation and creativity, which can move your business forward. It can be energising, uplifting and re-invigorating.
Who benefits from coaching?
Senior managers may feel that they know their business and their industry well enough, and therefore need to spend all their time getting on with implementation. But it’s very easy for the time to strategise to be squeezed out of a busy schedule. It’s also easy to form a wrong view of coaching and think that it’s just for those who are struggling. In practice, it can be invaluable to set aside time for realistic forward planning and goal setting, allowing the entire organisation to benefit from the expertise of its most experienced executives.
Coaching is also highly effective in career progression and developing talent. Being promoted can be a huge confidence boost, but it can also be quite daunting. Providing coaching for those you believe may be rising stars helps to develop their abilities and grow their confidence in leadership and decision-making.
Team coaching is also something you should consider, especially in our newly emerging work landscape. Some teams rarely meet in person, while others routinely spend some of their time together and some remotely. Still more have returned to the traditional format of all working in the same location. In every instance, taking time out for coaching, preferably all in the same location, has great benefits. Giving everyone the opportunity to voice experiences, both positive and negative, and allowing them to feel listened to, helps to build and strengthen teams. Enabling them to strategise, plan and even dream together, will not only encourage and uplift them, but also give them a sense of ownership. With my employee engagement hat on, I can tell you that this is absolutely critical for engagement and retention.
Gary Cattermole, Biography - Gary's initial grounding was in the areas of sales and marketing, in the mid nineties he joined Longman Software Publishing to head up the business development of SURVEYkits (the worlds first employee opinion survey toolkit). After spearheading its growth over an 18 month period, Gary joined EMPLOYeSURVEYS, the original developers of SURVEYkits, helping to establish EMPLOYeSURVEYS as a leading provider of employee surveys.
Following its successful growth, in 2006 employesurvey was bought by a leading consultancy group.
He has managed numerous employee research projects for a variety of organisations. He is a partner at The Survey Initiative (and enjoys sports, in particular table tennis and football).