Last Updated 11 September, 2019

Starting to Coach

Rowan Berries

Rowan Berries
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Collaborate May 2017
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Coaching Skills for Counsellors (PDF)
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by Rachel Weiss

Telephone Counselling/Therapy
Counselling in Scotland
Winter/Spring 2014
By Annelie Carmichael and Mark Hancock

Coach Training for Counsellors
Association of Integrative Coach-Therapist Professionals
August 2013
by Rachel Weiss

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Johnston Carmichael Professional Services News
Spring 2009
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The Organisation and the Counselling Service Provider: a relationship that improves with maturity
Counselling at Work Journal
Winter 2008/2009
by Rachel Weiss

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Counselling at Work Journal
Winter 2003
by Rachel Weiss
How to start coaching

Many of my clients are at the point of developing their coaching skills where they are asking "Who sets the agenda?" and "How and when would I start to use these techniques?"

I would like to consider these questions here.

Who sets the agenda?

Many managers struggle with the idea that the coachee should set the agenda and define what they want help with and the form that help should take. They are uneasy with the notion of handing over control when they feel responsible for improving the performance of different people in areas they judge as important.

In reality, this loss of control does not occur. Managers do set the main agenda because they determine priorities and key objectives. But when it comes to coaching people to improve their performance and reach their goals managers need to allow them to set their own agenda to achieve those goals. Experience shows that this produces the best results.

How do I get started?

The benefits of adding coaching to other management skills are indisputable if managers wish to improve the performance of their team and the overall organisation. Coaching is not difficult but like every other skill, it improves with practice. The best coaches have spent - and continue to spend - a lot of time practising. But the question remains: how and when to start?

The following suggestions may be helpful:

Powerful coaching questions
There is no recipe for an effective coaching question, but useful ones are open questions which open horizons and make people think so use, "What?", "When?" "How?"
eg "What would happen if you did nothing?"
"What other options can you think of?"
"What will happen if you change?"
Note, "Why?" is rarely a useful question, since it can put people on the defensive.
Informal coaching (little and often)
If you practice coaching questions at work you'll find that even the briefest conversation can have a coaching feel because you'll increase awareness, responsibility and trust.
Practise using this informal coaching as often as possible. It is just as powerful as a formal coaching session and you'll find that people become increasingly willing and able to improve their own performance.
Carpe Diem (Seize the day)
An ideal opportunity to use coaching techniques is when someone wants to discuss a problem or an idea. The advantage is that it arises from an issue that they perceive and at their request. Just remember to use coaching questions and a framework such as GROW to structure the discussion. The more you practice coaching techniques the more they'll become part of your communication style and the more you'll appreciate how helpful they can be.

For almost any issue at work (or in life!) coaching can be used to get things moving and develop people in the process. This makes demands more manageable and thus will relieve stress.

Steve Coulson, Rowan Coach

Rowan Consultancy, 4 Kinnoull Street, Perth, PH1 5EN. +44(0)1738 562005