I am delighted to be invited to be the first guest blogger on the People Discovery website, thanks Christina for the opportunity!
As someone who has worked in people development roles for most of my career, I am now in the fortunate position of working with the academic community as a Senior Teaching Fellow at Newcastle University Business School, where I am Director of the Executive MBA programme and responsible for the innovative Understanding and Implementing Coaching and Mentoring Module on the Masters in Human Resource Management, which is accredited by the CIPD.
Since the late 1980s, organisations have asked me to coach their employees, from supervisory staff through to senior managers and directors, and to be honest, until I became involved in the new Coaching and Mentoring Module, what I did and how I did it had become one of those “unconsciously competent” activities that I did automatically and comfortably after years of training and practice.
The process of designing an academic module on such a practical subject has been quite challenging and as novices to coaching, my postgraduate students are currently asking me lots of “What if” questions about coaching within organisations from international and multi-cultural perspectives. We have discussed the limitations of coaching within organisations and the importance of setting clear parameters, not just a coaching contract between the coach and coachee, but the explicit and implicit requirements of the organisation as the provider of internal coaching to ensure the coach does not reach beyond their remit. I have to say that my responses to many of the questions I get is “It depends …”.
As coaches, we have a variety of learned and intrinsic personal and interpersonal skills. Some of us have achieved recognised and accredited training and qualifications, many coaches use models such as GROW and CLEAR to enable the interaction with their client. Yet because every coach is different; every client is different; every intervention, coaching session, environment, context, culture, organisation, values and belief systems is different, there is no easy way to generally describe the dynamic or process of coaching, or to give easy answers to the “What if”s.
So, my conclusion is that to learn about coaching, one has to observe coaches and coachees; one has to experience being a coach and being coached; one must experiment with different coaching techniques in a safe environment; and mostly we all need to share our experience to keep improving personally and to encourage incremental and organic growth of our clients and to answer each “What if” in context.