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Coaching is now seen as one of the most effective learning and development interventions to drive optimal performance and improvement at work.
But coaching is both a science and an art. Various coaching models exist to help with the science, but what about the art? How do people get the coaching skills they need to be effective coaches?
As with everything, practice makes perfect. But if you were to launch a new company-wide coaching programme, you’d want to make sure it was successful. If people simply muddled through or took to it half-heartedly, you’d run the risk of it falling flat, and people could have a negative experience of coaching. For coaching to be really successful, your coaches need a chance to develop the skills, behaviours and attitudes that they need to become great coaches.
MTa’s approach to experiential learning helps your coaches hone their coaching skills by taking part in practical coaching skills training. We’ll introduce some of the most relevant coaching activities from the MTa toolkit below. But if you’re not sure where to start, it might be easier to give us a call or chat to us and we’ll help.
The aim of coaching is to help individuals find ways of becoming more effective at the things they need, or want to do. It’s typically focused on tasks and short-term goals, and often requires development of new skills. But coaching isn’t simply learning from an expert: it’s about having someone to guide you through a process where you learn what works for you.
MTa Coaching Skills is designed specifically to develop coaching skills. It’s suitable for both line managers who need to develop staff skills or performance and for trainers and teachers who are looking to develop a more facilitative approach to learning. It can be run as a one-day workshop or over two half-days, with the opportunity for participants to apply their new coaching skills for real, on the job, in between.
There are four activities that introduce a coaching mindset and look at ways of deploying it for real.
The first activity explores the differences between traditional instructional management and coaching: the “just do it” versus the “how do you think you should do it?” It looks at some of the reasons for this such as short-term pressures vs long-term benefits, and the skills and mindset needed for effective coaching.
Activity 2 is a short-self assessment of management style against that of the skilful coach. It gets everyone to critically assess their own attitudes and skills and explore areas for improvement. The third activity is about adopting an approach consistent with coaching. It allows participants to make bold contrasts between an effective coaching approach and more traditional instructional styles. In the next activity, participants start implementing what they’ve learned by looking at opportunities to use coaching approaches in their day-to-day work. If the workshop is split over two days, this is the opportunity to try it for real.
The four coaching activities work with whichever coaching model you may decide to use because it focuses on understanding of the essential attitudes, skills and behaviours needed for effective coaching rather than the process. The key to success in coaching is to help the coachee find the approach and solution that works for them to reach their goal.
All these activities are very easily framed within a coaching Model like GROW. Here coaches first help those they are coaching to explore their Goal: what is it they are trying to achieve. The next step is to reflect on the current Reality, including any obstacles that stand in the way of reaching the goal. Then they explore the different Options or Opportunities for getting there. And finally the person being coached needs to agree on a Way Forward during a Wrap-up.
Another popular model, COACH, follows a similar path. Here the coachee first Connects the tasks they are looking to improve with a wider vision and priorities: how does this fit into the bigger picture? Next they Observe the current routine and way of doing things. Then they Assume a coaching style, Create a plan and then Highlight their progress with data.
Whether you use one of these models or evolutions of them like Achieve or Cigar, the coaching mindset is the same. The person being coached needs to own their goals, explore their reality, consider the options and commit to the way forward. It is the coach’s role to help guide them. MTa Coach helps give coaches the mentality they need to play that role, instead of being prescriptive and instructional.
The final part of the coaching program prompts participants to reflect on what they’ve learned and then work with each other, using coaching approaches, to develop plans for implementation of their learning. That period of reflection draws on coaching resources that help participants reflect on what happened in the activities, and to consider the skills, behaviours and attitudes that are necessary to succeed. In a well-facilitated exercise, it is this reflection that provides most of the learning. MTa call this the ‘Learning Arena’ where all participants are encouraged to:
Participants are encouraged to reflect and think for themselves and then share their perspectives with the group. To help that reflection, each activity comes with learning review sheets that should be completed before group discussion.
One of the best ways to see these kits in action and to find out which kit(s) are best for you, is to attend one of MTa’s Facilitator Masterclasses. Here you’ll get unique insights from our experienced facilitators on how to run successful sessions, as well as first-hand experience of a coaching approach in action.