Saturday, 22 August 2009

Coaching - friend or foe

It's time to take a look at coaching from a different angle.

Some people like having a coach, they get a lot out of it and it adds considerably to their professional development. The majority have it imposed on them and take a dim view of the benefits.

When CPD/coaching is rolled out there is a tendency to spam people with "cultural change" and "improving communications" workshops. There is nothing wrong with the content of the workshops, but the recipients are coming in to them with a disctinctly negative frame of mind.

Consider the view from the point of an experienced, long serving senior manager. You've been working for the company for years, your appraisals are fine and you've progressed well. Suddenly you're told that you need to change your culture and communicate better. The instinctive reaction, no matter how softly and gently it is put to you, is that your skills are lacking and that you've been doing it wrong all these years!

I call this the "perceived deficit model". No matter how sensitively and positively the subject of having a coach is broached, people will feel that they have somehow fallen short of what is expected from them to "need" coaching.

Ariadne's Thread uses the "accumulative model". This is where the sessions concentrate on problem solving. By working on real and urgent projects with people it is then easy to add the benefits of coaching to issues that are relevant and important to them. I act as a "sounding board" for ideas and offer an external and neutral perspective.

So, how do you feel about coaching in business? Is it a good thing, a waste of money, or a way to tick the CPD box?