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Entrepreneurship development: Coaching your staff (III)

We have so far discussed three elements of coaching elements, viz, the Coach, the coaching environment and the Trainee. Today, we will discuss the three…

We have so far discussed three elements of coaching elements, viz, the Coach, the coaching environment and the Trainee. Today, we will discuss the three other elements, viz, Coaching philosophies and principles, Coaching Goals, and Systems and Processes. We will also present a few practical coaching tips. 

Coaching philosophies and principles: Literally, ‘philosophy’ simply means ‘the love of wisdom’. Practically, philosophy is about understanding fundamental truths about ourselves and what we may be trying to do. The principles behind our behaviour and action are predicated upon our philosophies of life or aspects thereof. And since success in anything we do is largely determined by our actions, it is important that we formulate the right philosophies upon which our principles of action will be built. Consequently, to coordinate and link the other elements of coaching, we need to start with the right philosophies and principles. This means we need to answer questions such as ‘what do we need to achieve?’ ‘why do we want to achieve that?’ The point is, we must get to core of the ‘truths’ of what we want to do and why want to do it. 

A sustainable coaching culture can only be is built on the ‘right’ philosophy and principles. The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of what you want to do have to bring out the core of what you believe as regards the purposes of all coaching goals and activities, thereby giving the right motivations and impetus. Beyond that, it is your coaching philosophy that will be the yardstick against which all activities will be assessed. 

Coaching goals: Goals are the broad desired outcomes that we wish to accomplish over a reasonably long period of time. On the other hand, objectives are specific, actionable targets that need to be achieved in the short run towards accomplishing a long-term goal. Coaching objectives may differ differently between organisations. Generally speaking, however, they tend to revolve around preparing staff for advancement in the organization; improving behaviour; and/or helping individuals who are not meeting set expectations or goals. Whatever may the immediate objectives, they are all always and ultimately about achieving corporate goals. 

Clearly stating what coaching goals and objectives are is a core responsibility that has to be discharged by the Coach diligently. Whatever goals and objectives are identified should be agreed to with the Trainee and appropriate records kept. Depending on the system and process, the HR may or may not be involved in establishing specific objectives. Functional Unit heads and the Coach have to, however, always agree on them. 

Coaching systems and processes: To facilitate the achievement of coaching targets and objectives, a coaching system and process have to be developed. A system refers to a conglomeration of resources that are put together in a particular fashion to work collectively in order to produce chosen outputs from given inputs. The purpose of building a system is to deliberately interconnect components that will work together to achieve a common objective. These components might include only software or only hardware or a varying combination of both. Process, on the other hand, refers to the combination of steps and actions involved in a way specific work or works is/are to be completed. 

Systems and processes work together with the former being the platform and the latter the driver. A coaching system and process, therefore, refers to both the platform and the driver on and by which all coaching activities in an organisation take place. 

Developing a coaching system and process is critical to the results of the coaching activities that can be achieved. A faulty system and process will not deliver the required results. Conceptualising and building the system is one thing while operating process is quite another, even as both are integral to each other. 

Typically, the coaching process will involve an evaluation of current trainee performance followed by establishing gaps and the parallel selection of desired goals and appropriate competencies. Thereafter, support is provided and progress monitored. At the end of each circle, feedback is provided and any considered reward given.   

Practical coaching tips: The starting point of any coaching regimen is to bring out its benefits to the trainee as well as to the organisation. Once these benefits are understood and internalised, the next activity will be to help the trainee adopt the right learning etiquettes. This may include being positive, curious, humble, inquisitive, willing to learn from others, etc. Thereafter, conduct an honest, fair and diligent assessment of the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the trainee. Where there are gaps, they should be clearly brought out and discussed with the trainee. Even where there are theoretically ‘no gaps’, a positively challenging stretch should be created and agreed to for the purposes of developing the trainee further. Learning and development must be a continuous activity! 

Where gaps are brought out, specific actions should be identified, and a goals’ roadmap created that will help the trainee bridge the gaps. A trainee with poor IT skills might, for instance, be attached to a particular staff in the IT unit who will put them through specific lessons at certain times of certain days. A timeframe over which specific targets are expected have to have been achieved should be worked out and assessments made periodically against the benchmarks. 

Trainees should be listened to and encouraged to come up with likely solutions to issues. Engagement should be transparent and positive. They should be trained to accept that there will be setbacks from time to time and also be prepared to be able to handle them.

Coaching within an organisation is an indubitable and cost effective of developing staff and achieving corporate goals. Next week we will take up Handling Losses.

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