Practical ways to determine when coaching will be useful
The range of situations, when coaching can be helpful, is almost endless. Basically, any time that you see a colleague struggling, or trying to work their way through difficult choices, you can offer coaching. And any time you sense that an improvement in your skills, performance or behaviours could be beneficial, is a good time to ask for coaching.
Some of the most common situations, in which a need for coaching arises, include:
- When there is an opportunity to take on a new job role, which requires additional skills. Coaching helps to define how the new role will be different and where potential skills gaps might lie, as well as to plan how the coachee will develop the skills needed.
- When someone procrastinates about an important decision or action. The coach helps identify the root causes of procrastination and develop practical ways of re-motivating themselves.
- Building a personal development plan (PDP). Coaching provides context and challenge to ensure that the PDP is both sufficiently stretching and achievable.
- When someone appears overwhelmed by their workload. Coaching helps the learner set clearer and more achievable priorities and become more confident and capable at negotiating workload (including learning how to say “no”). Where the cause relates to the coachee’s perfectionism, the coach can work with them to establish when it’s important to get the right solution and when to settle for “good enough”. If required, the coach can bring in specialist therapeutic assistance to support the coachee in tackling this issue.
- When they want/ need to improve in a specific skill, such as presenting at meetings. Coaching provides opportunities to practise in a safe environment and to build skills gradually. The coach may also demonstrate good practice and observe and give feedback – for example, when the coachee presents at meetings.
- When they want/ need to improve in a specific attribute, such as being more assertive. Much the same applies as with developing a specific skill, but here the coach and coachee might do a lot more groundwork in terms of understanding the inner motivations that underlie the current behaviour and the potential blockers – such as self-limiting beliefs – which need to be addressed before sustainable change can be achieved.
- When someone joins a new team. This is an opportunity to speed up their induction into the team norms, but also to capture their observations about the team and how it works. So in essence, this becomes two-way coaching.
- When they need to gain clearer focus about what’s important. Coaching helps to sort between competing priorities.
- Managing conflict. A frequent role for coaches is to help coachees think through how they will manage conflict either within their team or with other teams. Coaching here is most valuable when it both produces practical solutions to resolve the immediate conflict and also builds the coachee’s ability to either avoid similar future conflict or channel potential conflict into positive and creative dialogue.
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