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How to squeeze every last drop from your coaching performance

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16th Mar 2011
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Francis Marshall looks at how coaches can improve their performance through a focus on diagnostics.
  
Despite all the pessimistic predictions, business coaching – so often considered a luxury item in L&D – appears to have emerged relatively unscathed from the last few years of training cuts.
While some individual freelance coaches might have seen their businesses contract (a lot of coaching is now taking place internally within organisations), it's clear that coaching is now a central part of organisations' long-term vision. A CIPD survey, the 'Taking the Temperature of Coaching' report, for example, which surveyed organisations at the height of the recession, found that 90% of them used coaching, while 51% considered it 'crucial' to their L&D strategy.
 
"To pay back the faith that organisations have invested in coaching, it is essential that we continue to look at ways in which individuals' coaching performance and competencies fit together and can be improved."
Now is no time for complacency, however. To pay back the faith that organisations have invested in coaching, it is essential that we continue to look at ways in which individuals' coaching performance and competencies fit together and can be improved. Established and prospective coaches need to have the right blend of competencies that work together in a way that is appropriate for both the individual being coached and for the business.
How can this be achieved?
It's clear to me there is great benefit in ensuring that there is an ongoing audit of coaches' competencies. For example, how successful are they at navigating the coaching session? Could they be better listeners? Are they establishing clear goals for the sessions and are they taking into consideration external contextual factors as well? Are they taking the coachee along the route they want to take and are they the right coach for the organisation and indeed the individual in question? The list could go on.
So how can coaches better develop their skills? There's the opportunity to have top-up training, for example (presuming that they received relevant training in the first place). There's a plethora of training coaching organisations on the market today offering courses of up to a year as well as continuing professional development (CPD).
Many coaches today also have a supervisor – someone who can provide an unbiased and independent check on the quality of their work and make sure that they are continuing to develop. While supervisors tended to be arranged on a quid-pro-quo basis in the past, where fellow coaches would help each other out, there are signs that the supervisory process for coaching today is becoming much more formalised.
Then there are, of course, accreditation bodies that coaches can belong to. While there remains a large number of these on the market today, the list is being better qualified and the really reputable ones now require continuing CPD from the coaches, if they are to benefit from accreditation.
Finally, there is reading with a wealth of high quality literature on the market today. Sir John Whitmore's book – 'Coaching for Performance' and its focus on the GROW model (more of that later) remains an irreplaceable source of ideas and support for many coaches today.
While all these methods can be highly effective in squeezing the best out of your coaching performance, however, I believe there remains a need for an ongoing diagnostic process in coaching today - a robust methodology where, by using diagnostics, coaches self-assess and are assessed by the people they coach.
For example, we have developed a 360 coaching feedback process built around the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options and What, When, Will) model, one of the best known and most widely used coaching models today. The model helps coaches establish clear goals for the session, check the reality of the current situation, explore the individual options available to reach that goal, what is to be done and when, and helps check that the will to do it is there too.
 
"I believe there remains a need for an ongoing diagnostic process in coaching today - a robust methodology where, by using diagnostics, coaches self-assess and are assessed by the people they coach."
By using the GROW model to guide the diagnostics process, we can generate a detailed overview of an individual's strengths and what areas they need to improve in as a coach, as well as a listing of behavioural skill areas. And through this, we can establish whether existing and 'would be' coaches have the right skills to cover all manners of coaching interventions and whether their coaching skills are right for both the individuals they are coaching and the organisation as a whole.
There are many means of improving coaching performance today. As the demands on coaches increase and expectations are raised, it's important that we rise to the occasion.
Francis Marshall is managing director of Cegos UK, part of Europe’s largest learning and development provider. In addition to his responsibilities as MD, Francis is an NLP practitioner and is active as a senior level consultant within the fields of management, leadership and executive coaching. For further information visit www.cegos.co.uk 

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