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This article was published 08-11-2016

Answering 11 Questions You Might Have About Coaching

Coaching is no longer a ‘new’ learning intervention. Frequent scientific research is done on the effectiveness and positive results of the many forms of coaching. It is now difficult to dispute that coaching is a powerful instrument for learning and personal development.

Demand for coaching has also increased enormously in recent years. This year Schouten China has been awarded as “best management coaching service provider in Greater China” by Human Capital Management. As the leader in coaching. In this article we like to answer 11 key questions about coaching.

Why has coaching become such a success?
‘Because a coach connects with people at their individual learning level and facilitates progress towards the personal learning goals and values of the coachee. Individualization of learning is, quite correctly, an HRD trend - because it leads to insight, personal and professional growth and sustainable behavioral change. In the constantly changing context in which we now live, a linear skills learning process is no longer sufficient. Coaching demonstrates, time after time, that it really works and serves as a great development tool.’

Why is the individual approach so important?
‘Organizations are undergoing forced continuous change and are searching for ways to cope with this. They are increasingly dealing with dis-organization. People have a natural tendency to wait-and-see when change is under way. But to escape disorganization, businesses indeed need everyone’s active participation. This is possible only if you stimulate employees’ personal growth at an individual level, enabling them to personally find and contribute the knowledge and skills that the organization needs. By making people self-managing, you increase the value of their work.’

How does coaching relate to other ways of learning?
‘Coaching is one of the many forms of learning that your organization can offer. Coaching is about unlocking a person’s potential. It is a results-oriented, targeted intervention and it improves your employee’s motivation, self management and performance. The coach teaches the employee to learn and adjusts the learning process to that particular employee’s capabilities and needs.’

What are the current issues among L&D managers in the field of coaching?
‘There are three coaching roles in organizations: the manager as coach; the internal, non-manager as coach/mentor; and the external coach. Each role has its own challenges. The manager-coach will mainly coach informally, applying coaching skills in the process. The concern for him or her is how to make the change to a new style of leadership.

How do you support the manager in becoming a coaching leader who addresses the potential in his people?
For the internal coach/mentor issues apply such as coaching quality and how to define the process. While the external coach uses the most formal type of coaching. This coach’s issues are mainly about getting more grip on coaching. Their concerns are, for example, quality and the number of coaching applications - by whom, for whom, and for what reason?’

How do you ensure the quality of internal coaching?
‘By having a clear and rationalized view of coaching and being receptive to the training we provide to coaches. It is important to keep the coach’s knowledge of developments in the field up to date. Also ask yourself to what extent coaches should be exempt from other responsibilities in the organization. How do you want to embed internal coaching in the company? And what about confidentiality?’

Does every company wrestle with this question?
‘More or less, yes. Though there are good examples of organizing internal coaching within companies. Philips, for instance, has a network of internal coaches: The United Coaches of the Benelux. Schouten Global for example has prepared a menu card for them, showing the profiles of the coaches. We provide these coaches with a range of knowledge sessions.’

What are the issues regarding the use of external coaches?
‘HRD (or L&D) often don’t have a grip on external coaching. In many cases it is a very decentralized activity. The managers or employees concerned often just bring in the coaches they think are necessary. The lack of central overview makes the impact of such coaching difficult to measure. The danger lies in uncontrolled proliferation of coaches, at high cost to the organization, yet without a clear result. Good central supervision and monitoring can give insight into the results and costs of external coaching. This is really a precondition to the application of this form of coaching as an organization-wide development tool.’

How do you achieve control and monitor external coaching?
‘Obtain information on the coaches used in the organization. Are they sufficiently qualified? What do they cost? Which is the impact of their work? Our concept removes concerns and lets organizations get a grip on external coaching. The concept is based on our extensive knowledge of the impact of coaching, our broad network of qualified coaches and our worldwide experience.’

Do you also apply these concepts in practice?
‘Yes, we help multinationals such as Unilever, ING, Accenture and ABN Amro to professionalize their coaching activities. We have set up a dedicated, central coach desk for each of them. This helps employees who are looking for a coach by making that search easy and quick. Employees can start with an external coach within just one week of their first contact. Such a central desk enables a clear overview of coaching activities, for both employee and employer.’

Which of the coaching forms will prevail?
‘All three fields will continue to exist. External coaching supplements the other two forms. Sometimes internal coaching is the most suitable form, the choice varies by learning goal, person and business. And coaching, in its turn, complements other ways of learning. Which is why we use an integrated approach when working with our partners.’

More information?
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