At iHASCO, we’re developing a coaching culture. This is in line with recommendations from Investors in People, provided at the same time as awarding iHASCO an Investors in People: Silver Award.
This means using peer coaching in the management team, and managers coaching staff both day to day and in development meetings. We’re finding this incredibly valuable and wanted to share both how it’s going and how it can help organisations.
Below we will cover what coaching is, and how you can use it to support those around you. Coaching is very simple and very effective.
Anyone can offer coaching. If your colleague asks you for your help, you can ask the following questions with genuine interest: "what do you think?" or "what would you do?" and allow them to think about the situation - they may already know the answer!
What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?
Mentoring someone is offering advice and guidance and requires you to be more skilled in an area than the person you are mentoring. It involved sharing knowledge, ideas, suggestions and advice. Mentoring works best when the person involved does not have the skills or experience needed.
Coaching is different. This involves helping someone to learn, rather than teaching them. The idea is to ask questions to help people come up with their own ideas and conclusions. Coaching works best with someone who has the skills or experience but would value help in thinking things through.
This means a football coach who gives advice, orders, and training to football players is actually more of a mentor.
If you have ever come to someone with an issue or question, and they asked you questions until you yourself have come up with an answer, you were coached. Coaching is generally used to solve an issue or to work out how to reach a goal.
What’s the point?
If you assist someone in coming up with their own solutions, plans, goals and help them decide how to reach them, you are helping to develop their confidence, independence, and skills.
Offering a chat that allows them time to really think things through can result in them coming up with ideas, solutions or goals that are much more relevant to them than what you can offer. Their own ideas and solutions are naturally going to be much more relevant to their own views, beliefs, and ways of seeing things.
If you do need to mentor someone, a coaching approach can also be used, allowing you to understand how they see things, and what ideas they can come up with. It can help you identify when they do need mentoring and advice, and when it’s more appropriate and useful to let them work things out for themselves.
How does it work?
Coaching is simply asking questions, avoiding leading the conversation, and allowing the other person to come up with their own ideas. These may be very different to your own, so the key is to let them find their own route to solving their issue or meeting their goal.
A really simple way to start would be your response to questions from others when they want to solve an issue or reach a goal. Often when people share a problem or ask for advice, what they really want is to think things through. You can help them with this by asking questions, rather than giving advice. If you feel like giving a suggestion, avoid it, and ask another question instead. It’s natural to have a mindset of sharing our experience to help others, however, it can be really helpful to change this mindset, seeing that you can help people more by asking them questions so they can reach their own conclusions.
If someone asks you how to deal with an issue you could ask:
What do you think? How would you deal with it? What other ways could you deal with it? What are the details of the issue? How have you dealt with things like this in the past? What’s your opinion on it? What could go wrong? What’s the best outcome? Etc.
It’s very important to leave time for people to think of answers to these questions, and to avoid interrupting or jumping in with a suggestion. We have found that if you help someone come up with their own answers, they feel more confident and are thankful that their own thoughts and views are valued. If you start with more questions, and you do need to offer a mentoring approach, you have first worked to understand the person’s viewpoint, so your advice can be much more relevant to their level of understanding and perceptions. We all see things differently. For coaching 1 to 1s, we’d suggest looking up the ‘GROW’ and ‘Stop, Start, Continue’ models, they’re really simple and help to add structure, to support someone in working out how they can reach their goals.