(For individual use only, not to be reproduced or used in any way without permission)
By Fred Friend
There is a growing organizational trend to provide formal coaching for key staff. Part of this trend includes working with a coach from outside of the organization. Here are some thoughts on the benefits and differences when using an outside coach.
Outside coaches are beneficial for several reasons:
Your effectiveness as an outside coach depends in part on a well defined personal-professional relationship, you have no history to fall back on. Your relationship will go through successive stages. The key staff always has the option to end the relationships. How you behave during each stage will impact this decision. One way of understanding these stages is to compare them to the more familiar stages that a team goes through in a team development model.
Stage 1: Introduction
This is the parallel to a team kickoff meeting where a team is given its assignment. As an outside coach, the key here is how was the assignment made? How does the person being coached see you - as an asset? - or as a henchman? It is important to reconcile your role as an asset to the person being coached.
Establishing rapport is critical to moving ahead successfully. This doesnt mean being charming or charismatic. It means getting on the same side of the issue - the positive developmental experience of the person being coached. To the extent appropriate and comfortable find common experiences and interests and possibly make the first meeting informal over coffee, lunch, etc. The first meeting can be a shorter informal icebreaker where you will talk about the issues and key success factors for making your joint efforts successful. In our outside coaching efforts, we often leave behind some notes, ideas and possible worksheets to help move into the second stage, Clarification.
Stage 2: Clarification
This is the forming stage in teams. At either the first or second meeting, it is important to begin clarification of :
In coaching, clarification is the stage where issues are addressed that a team sometimes deals with in the storming stage. If addressed proactively, it allows the relationship to move from the forming to the performing stage - storming is not requisite in a coaching relationship.
Stage 3: Development
This is the performing stage. We move beyond initial definition and continue to develop roles, mutual respect, synergy, processes, norms, routines, productive patterns, intermediate and final goals and produce developmental results.
Stage 4: Graduation
In the teamwork model, this stage is often called celebrating. In the literature on mentoring, this last stage is often called redefining. Because the coaching has been successful, the person being coached has grown and developed and the relationship between them is being redefined as they become more capable and independent. In an organizational relationship the person being coached often moves into more of a peer role than a subordinate role. As an outside coach you successfully work yourself out of a job as the other person graduates to a new level. Either way, the relationship is usually redefined as one of colleagues rather than coach and key staff.
In our experience, it is critical for ownership of the process and its results to clearly belong to the person being coached. The coach, especially an outside coach, should bring significant process expertise to the relationship, but coaching cannot be forced. This is a potential danger where an outside coach is assigned to help someone "get their act together". In our view the coach can be both supportive and direct and challenging. They can be a subject matter expert on the process and provide strong guidance on what it takes to be successful, but the desire to be successful and follow the process must come from the other person. In that light, here are a few thoughts on what a coach should / should-not do.
Coaching is a non-authoritative based process and that is why an outsider can easily serve as an assigned developmental coach. In fact, because of their detachment from the organization, its culture, its egos and its internal politics, it is often best to use an outsider. Many of our clients have found outside coaches to be more effective for these reasons.
Good coaching and collaborative problem solving, skills are critical. Our experience in coaching and training leaders to be coaches has demonstrated over and over the critically of the coach focusing their role to assist the development of the person being coached.
A successful, well designed, coaching program can be one of the most effective development approaches for key staff and new professionals. To learn more about our outside coaching service and the value for you, go to one-on-one.
Hints on what a coach should do:
Serve as a facilitator
Serve as a non-judgmental outsider
Take them through a defined process
Ask for details
Listen so they can hear. Often people need to talk to express their concerns, aspirations, frustrations, dreams and crystallize their thinking. An important function is getting them to listen to themselves. Encourage them to verbalize their thoughts by listening with interest and appropriate empathy. Dont let them get mired down in pity or unproductive frustration and dont let it get too personal for your own comfort level. Keep them moving in a positive direction, ask for "what they can control - do next - etc.. Let them talk until they come up with their own answers.
Challenge their perceptions
Focus on the future (starting now)
Call for action
Challenge them to meet their goals
Ask them to judge their progress
Set next goals, as appropriate
Back to the top of this page