You’ve heard about coaching, and how it is the latest thing for personal and professional development. Perhaps someone is raving about it. Perhaps you’ve seen the adverts promising success and wealth in shouty tones. Appealing, so you decide to have a go. Simple, right?
Hold on: let me give you six scenarios that show how coaching is not for everyone. Which one describes you?
Scenario 1: You have a supportive manager
And even better, one who is ready, willing and able to coach you on the job. As coaching takes hold in more workplaces, managers have opportunities to increase their managerial repertoire to include a coaching style in the way they lead their teams. Are you one of the lucky ones to have such a manager? Make the most of it!
Scenario 2: You just want to let off steam.
Although this does happen in coaching sessions occasionally – it’s only human – your coach will soon steer the conversation into a different, more reflective direction to help you work through whatever set you off. If you are more interested in going through the issue in minute detail, and reliving an incident without intending to turn the experience into something you can learn from, you are really looking for a rant facilitator, not a coach. A night in the pub with some friends is probably what you need.
Scenario 3: You’re not ready to explore the question or issue.
In fact, you’re not convinced there is an issue to start with! You’ve been told to go to coaching, or you’ve been persuaded to. Maybe you feel an obligation to see a coach and you don’t want to look ungrateful. Perhaps you don’t see the issue as an issue and you’re not willing to spend time en mental energy on it. Whatever the reason; if you are not ready to engage with whatever someone else has told you you need to address through coaching, coaching is very unlikely to work, and will certainly be off to a very rocky start.
Scenario 4: You’d rather someone sorted you out.
You know there’s an issue which needs working on, and you’re looking to someone else to provide you with the solution. That doesn’t sit easily with coaching, which looks to support the individual to find the solution for themselves. Few coaches will sit down with you and map out a plan for you – be weary of those that do. You’re probably dealing with an adviser of sorts, and you’ll want to ask them some questions about what qualifies them to advise you.
Scenario 5: There isn’t really anything to talk about…
Which doesn’t mean you have no challenges to deal with, it just means that you have the natural support and resilience in your (professional and personal) life to deal with things successfully. People go through life without ever having coaching, while others work with a coach for a number of weeks or months and happily move on afterwards.
Scenario 6: You’re after a quick fix.
Coaching does have the potential to open a can of worms, and sometimes it takes two, three sessions for the real issue or question to emerge. Much happens in between sessions too – clients take away ‘homework’ and experiments to try out, while the coaching process itself can take months to complete. It needs time, effort and a degree of patience in almost all cases, which is important to bear in mind.
So, having read all this, has your perception of coaching shifted, and I so, how?