Authors and Consultants | GP Strategies Corporation

A New View of Coaching

coach

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The idea of coaching in the workplace has been around for decades, and though it has enjoyed some periods of popularity and respect, overall, it struggles to gain the traction needed to become embedded in corporate cultures in a meaningful way. In a large part, the concept has suffered at the hands of the term itself. The term coaching tends to have different meanings to different people, largely based on individual experiences. These individual interpretations create an unsettled coaching culture, especially as each subsequent leader brings his or her own definition, which then undermines any previous progress and inevitably hits the reset button on that organization’s practice of coaching.

Of course, we cannot write on the topic of coaching without adding our own definition to the fray. Based on our experience, research, and mission to build systematic approaches to improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals, we offer a comprehensive definition of the term.

The main tenet of our definition is that coaching is not a process. Processes may aid the establishment of coaching within a company, but defining a process cannot produce true coaching. Coaching is instead better defined as a culture, “the way things get done around here.” A coaching culture is best evidenced by

  • role clarity and transparent conversations regarding expectations
  • the practiced ability of supervisors to help individuals discover what gets in each person’s way of achieving success in his or her role
  • a tangible way to measure and report levels of success accomplished by individuals, teams, and organizations to produce the value expected by the organization

We will address each of these factors, in order, as we continue the coaching series. Notably absent from this list is any mention of a lack of time to coach. As you will recall from our introductory blog on this topic, a lack of time is the most explicit and common reason given for why coaching does not occur in organizations today. The essentials listed above can profoundly impact the perceived lack of time. Our discussion will include how each of these cultural norms helps to create more time.

Question to ponder:

  • How does your organization currently define coaching?
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