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Entrepreneurship development: Coaching your staff (II)

Last week we introduced what coaching in a business organisation is as well as its purpose and benefits. Today, we will begin to take up…

Last week we introduced what coaching in a business organisation is as well as its purpose and benefits. Today, we will begin to take up the elements of coaching that we mentioned last week. 

The coaching environment: The coaching environment is the composition of all the elements of coaching. The coaching environment is the total medium within which all coaching elements operate and interact with each other. As a medium, the environment can either support or frustrate the coaching elements and/or the dynamic interactions between them.

A conducive environment is a necessary requirement for the flourishing of all coaching activities. A conducive coaching environment creates, facilitates, and grows supportive relationships where people are committed to continuously improving their individual and collective performance and the achievement of desired corporate results.  In a business, the right coaching environment is required to create a coaching culture that can build healthy relationships and enhance performance and productivity. 

To create a conducive coaching environment, there are certain actions you will need to take, such as:

• Identify the purpose for which you want coaching to take place within the organisation.

• Bring out the benefits to members of the organisation as well as the organisation.

• Establish what knowledge, skill and attitudinal gaps need to be bridged.

• Identify who would be the coaches and who would be the trainees. In doing this, you will need to realise and build in the fact that sometimes the roles can be reversed!

• Get the buy-in of executives, coaches and trainees.

• Train the coaches on how to be great coaches and the trainees to have the right etiquette.

• Create requisite formal and informal coaching systems and processes.

• Create a fair and transparent review process that measures results.

• Build a reward system for coaches and trainees. In doing this, encourage those who fail short in positive rather than punitive ways.

• Build a system of regular review of the whole process.

• Be serious about everything and have fun out of it also!

Personal development, team growth and organisational learning are to be seamlessly integrated in a great coaching environment. Your people and their teams should be encouraged to positively seek and welcome feedback. Furthermore, coaching should be accepted as a responsibility and an opportunity by coaches and trainees respectively. Finally, a coaching environment should be considered a living organism that grows and evolves over time.

The Coach: In a corporate setting, a coach is a staff member (the Coach) who takes on a guiding and supportive role towards another employee (the trainee) with a view to achieving corporate goals and helping the trainee to achieve their full potential. A coach will normally be a more experienced and knowledgeable person in comparison to the trainee. However, a peer or even subordinate may coach another peer or senior person when the peer or subordinate has certain knowledge or skills that the other peer or senior needs to learn or acquire. The point is, regardless of who does what, coaching is all about building up the knowledge and skills of others for the purposes of enhancing their abilities and achieving corporate objectives.

The scope of responsibility of the Coach goes beyond simply working to impart knowledge and skills to a trainee or group of trainees. Rather, it includes clarifying with the trainee, and agreeing thereon, what the purpose of the coaching will be as well as the immediate objectives and the ‘distant’ goals. It also includes monitoring progress and providing feedback to the trainee. Monitoring progress will be based on agreed objectives and timelines that the trainee is pre-aware of. Providing feedback is about discussing with the trainee what they are doing well and where they may still be falling short.  

There are different types of coaches and coaching styles. From a professional point of view, there are personal coaches, health, and wellness coaches, etc. But here, we are interested in different types of coaches within a business organization from the perspectives of their coaching styles. So, a ‘democratic’ coach has a democratic coaching style; a ‘laissez-faire’ coach has a laissez-faire coaching style; an ‘autocratic’ coach has an autocratic coaching style, etc. It is important that the Coach understands what these optional spectra are and how best to develop themselves into being effective coaches. The coaching environment, systems and process available as well as the trainee all have a bearing on the discretion that the Coach has. There is no one best optional style that fits all situations and circumstances. Hence, the need for the Coach to be versatile and able to read the situation and circumstances with a view to adopting what will work best. Before we take up specific ways of being a great coach, we will first take up the other elements of coaching. 

The Trainee: The whole coaching regimen is aimed at improving the knowledge, competencies, abilities and attitudes of the Trainee. Consequently, it is important that the trainee is understood very well by the organization and coach. It is equally important that the trainee is trained to be positively receptive to the whole exercise. 

By definition, a trainee is a person in need of performance coaching. Typically, a trainee is an employee that is coached by a direct supervisor or other colleagues in a corporate setting. A trainee could also be a newly-employed staff at any level within the organization or they could be an experienced staff that is in need of additional knowledge and skills. This may be because of some performance deficiency or in preparation for higher responsibilities.  

One of the conditions for building a successful coaching culture in an organization is to sharpen the trainee’s etiquette for learning. That means the trainee has to be encouraged to have a positive mindset and be open-minded about learning and the coaching program; they should be excited about learning new things, punctual in attending sessions and good in active listening. Similarly, a trainee should be courageous in asking questions, confident in proffering possible solutions to issues and must complete tasks and assignments that might be given. Trainees should not be defensive, but rather receptive, polite, respectful, trustworthy, and transparent. In the beginning, during and at the end of everything, a good employee is one that continuously improves themselves and is committed to improving their contribution to corporate results.

We have covered three of the elements of coaching, viz, the Coach, the coaching environment and the Trainee. Next week we will conclude the series by taking up coaching philosophies and principles, coaching goals, coaching systems and processes and provide some practical tips on being a great coach.

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