Whether you are a coach, coached or an organization that wants to achieve a climate in which coaching is effective, you need to ensure that some important elements of coaching at the workplace are properly managed.
It is more important in the context of coaching at the workplace as the coaches, in this case, is in the least control of the proceedings of the coaching exercise. For all coaching endeavors to be successful these essential elements of coaching at the workplace or in any general coaching must be met.
1. Well organized and confidential
To start with, a clear flexible plan is essential, with the lead practitioner establishing the goals for the program and how these will link to the organization’s mission, vision and goal must be established.
The roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholders should be discussed, agreed upon and clear time frames established. Contractual agreements should be drawn up that make provision for who will be coached, how the coaches will be chosen and how the results of the coaching or mentoring will be assessed and evaluated.
Most importantly, these agreements must also make provisions for the confidentiality of the sessions.
The nature and frequency of the sessions should also be agreed upon, and effective record-keeping systems put in place to enable continuous improvement and monitoring.
If codes of practice for coaching sessions are drawn up as discussed above, these should clarify expectations, set the boundaries and emphasize the need for confidentiality. There will usually be a mid-session and a final review to evaluate the outcomes against the sessions’ goals and objectives.
While humans, in general, are judgemental by nature. It’s even trickier while coaching internally to be totally nonjudgemental about a person you know and work with.
However, if you put aside your own knowledge and experience of the coachee and start with a clean slate, you will stimulate faster growth. Before each coaching session, allow yourself time to do the following:
- Sit comfortably in the allocated space, preferably a room
- Visualize the coachee and all you know about them, Now allow your knowledge and beliefs about them to fade away into the distance. Imagine this knowledge floating out of the window so that they are no longer a part of who the coachee is.
- Next, imagine this individual as someone with great potential and hidden talents yet to be discovered.
If you are able to bring these positive thoughts and energy into your coaching sessions, you may be surprised at the results.
You would be advised to bring objectivity to the sessions but, this can be a challenge when you work as an internal coach. The acquaintance with the person brings past pieces of baggage with it.
It is important that you remain neutral and are able to mirror your coachee’s thoughts and ideas. We all come to coaching with our own world-view and our own filters.
At least if we are aware of this we can pay careful attention to the times when we may intrude on our coachee’s world.
The action and agreements made by the coachee need to be owned by the coachee – they will not be as effective if they have been influenced by the coach.
We all have attitudes, beliefs, and values that shape the way we think and behave. No one person’s view is necessarily wrong or right (unless it breaks the law or an organization’s codes and ethics).
It is the coach’s role, therefore, to respect – while not necessarily agreeing with – the attitudes, values, and beliefs held by their coachee. If we are disrespectful of another’s view, we relinquish our own spiritual intelligence.
Individuals often come to coaching because they want to be challenged. They enjoy the way a coach enables them to think sideways: holds a mirror up and encourages creative thought.
People often, however, bring negative beliefs and assumptions about themselves to sessions, and it is the coach’s role to challenge these beliefs while also remaining respectful.
Negative beliefs are sometimes generalizations:
- ‘I will never be able to achieve this goal. I haven’t the skills.’
- ‘I am always late for appointments.’
- ‘They always set impossible targets.’
Gentle probing will often reveal fears or concerns around the goal or skills being described. The following are a few questions to use for statements 1–3 above:
- ‘Never? What if you did have the skills?’ Or ‘Never? What would need to change for you to achieve this goal?’
- When have you ever been early? Or ‘What appointments do you arrive on time for?’ Or ‘What do you need to change so you can arrive early?’ Or ‘What would be the benefits for you of arriving early?’
- What makes the targets impossible?’ Or ‘What targets have you reached?’ Or ‘What would need to happen for these targets to be met?’ Or ‘What would make these targets possible?’
It is important that the coachee creates a plan with results that are attainable, measurable and specific. The coachee will be encouraged by their coach to set target dates for any goals they have identified.
These goals should push the coachee to perform while, at the same time, remain realistic. While there is generally a specific goal people are working towards, it is useful for coachees to explore options and to be encouraged to think creatively.
As a coach, use your own judgment as to how much time people need to reach a specific, manageable goal. Read SMART goals to understand this aspect of coaching
Manageable and time-bound are somewhat linked. Individuals often come to coaching with unrealistic expectations or very long-term goals. They may be seeking promotion where there are clearly no possibilities or they may want a senior management position but are not ready to take that step.
These are some of the components of coaching at the workplace that must be recognized so that they can be addressed.
It is up to the coach to encourage and, at the same time, to help them to be realistic. If goals are not manageable or realistic, then you are setting them up to fail. Long-term goals can be broken down into sizeable chunks.
The coachee can be encouraged to plan the stages in the process, with small achievable goals along the way. As far as possible, they should be able to set their own deadlines and time frames to suit themselves. This way they will take more responsibility for the outcomes of the coaching at the workplace.
8. Quiet and uninterrupted
Creating a quiet space for the sessions to take place will enhance the quality of the session. If you are line managing someone you coach, it is not advisable to have the coaching sessions in your office.
It is generally far better to hold coaching sessions ‘off-site’ if this can be arranged. However, in most companies this is not possible, so find a relaxing environment where you will not be interrupted.
It cannot be stressed enough how much the environment has an impact on the successful outcome of the sessions.
9. Focused on the coachee’s best interests
When coaching internally, there will always be an agenda that has been set by the organization. There may even be management or leadership behaviors that have been identified as desirable.
There may also be set organizational goals that the sessions are directed towards. With this in mind, the sessions should always be conducted in the coachee’s best interests.
This does not mean that the organization is compromised in any way – it just means that if the individual is happy, then their work will improve and they will become more productive.
It is possible for the sessions to be focused on the coachee’s thoughts, ideas and goals and yet still be of benefit to the organization. For this to happen, all the stakeholders need to be aware that it is equally important to coach the person as well as the objectives.
10. Operating within legal and ethical parameters
It is vital that coaching programs are operated within the legal and policy framework that underpins all employment relationships. This includes being aware of the following:
- The race, sex and disability discrimination Acts.
- Employment law, health and safety regulations, equality at work legislation, grievance procedures and the codes of conduct outlined in the organization’s policies and procedures.
- Issues of power and authority.
- Clearly established coaching boundaries.
It may be a good idea to refer to the International Coach Federation, European Mentoring and Coaching Council and Association for Coaching ethics, standards and codes of practice.
As a coach or mentor you would be advised to:
- Be truthful, honest and have integrity
- Build trust
- Promote self-awareness
These are some of the essential elements of coaching at the workplace that you need to take care of. Every person interested in the field of coaching must read about GROW Model of coaching to further enhance the coaching experience.