While on-job training is focused primarily on the provision of the basic skills needed for an employee to learn a new job, coaching is very much a developmental activity. To take a very obvious sporting example, top athletes such as tennis players and footballers receive continuous coaching throughout their careers, often from coaches who are not capable of performing at the level of their coachees. It is taken for granted that performance can always be improved and that the chances of this improvement taking place will be much enhanced if the performer’s own efforts are supported by a coach.
According to the CIPD’s Learning and Development Survey for 2008, the majority of coaching is undertaken for general personal development or as part of a wider management and leadership development programme. However, a significant amount of coaching also takes place to remedy problem behaviour or to bring about a specific change in performance. Typically the objectives for this coaching are determined for the individual coachee, rather than on the basis of a wider company programme. The bulk of the responsibility for coaching lies with line managers, although it is not uncommon for organisations to employee dedicated internal or external coaches.
There are many models for performance coaching in organisations, but most focus on helping the coachee to analyse and solve their own challenges, rather than offering advice or direction. A commonly used model for this process is GROW:
- G is for Goal: What do you really want?
- R is for Reality: Identify where you are and what you have.
- O is for Obstacles: What is stopping you achieving your goals.
- O is also for Options: Exploring alternative ways forward.
- W is for Way Forward: Creating your action plan, and getting started.
Business coaching is not the same as mentoring. Mentoring involves a developmental relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced partner, and typically involves the sharing of advice. A business coach can act also as a mentor if they have adequate expertise and experience, but the mentoring and coaching are separate processes.
- at its best when goal-focused, orientated around real work issues, non-directive, aimed at developing the coachee’s confidence;
- best avoided when simply going through the motions, when not followed through, when encourages dependence on the coach.