In our collective subconscious coaching evokes associations with charlatans, self-proclaimed life experts or extremely charismatic motivational speakers who give us the gut feeling that not everything is right with them, and it just might have something to do with borderline personality disorder.
Hence the question: what is coaching really about?
Coaching is a forward-looking development process in which the coach supports the coachee in defining S.M.A.R.T. goals (personal and/or professional) and finding motivation to achieve them, thus maximizing coachee’s inner potential.
As for most of us coaching is still shrouded in mystery, there are many myths about what coaching is or does, and is not or does not. In this text we will discuss five of them.
1. Coaching is a type of psychotherapy
Managers are often reluctant to start a coaching process with their subordinates, because they are afraid of assuming the role of a psychologist and therapist. Of course, as a coach one cannot escape from matters such as personality types and communication styles, or various personal and professional issues, but these are exactly the same matters that a good manager deals with on every-day basis. The main difference between coaching and therapy is that the former focuses on the present and future, it is forward-oriented, whereas the latter examines the past.
2. Coaching is the same as mentoring
Mentoring is a long-term process, with a strong emotional connotation of “bringing-up” a mentee the way a parent brings up a child – “in his own likeness”. Coaching is free of this connotation: it is time-bound and goal-oriented, with quantitative and/or qualitative assessment built in the process.
3. Coaching is a light and soft process, carried out with smiles on faces of all the parties involved
Coaching is goal-oriented. Of course, the coachee is the focal point of the process, not the goal itself, but still the process aims at the coachee’s growth through achieving goals, which requires strategy, hard work and action. It is not about the pat on the back and thumbs up.
4. There is one coaching pattern for every situation
Coaching is not mechanical, it requires the knowledge of business, social life and psychology. A coach using the same clichés regardless of the situation will certainly fail. On the other hand, a coach who embraces the fact that each person really IS different will be able to help their coachee to achieve pre-defined goals.
5. Coaching has no impact on financial result
Coaching is usually perceived as a soft skill. It is commonly thought that it boils down to listening and asking a few questions. In fact, coaching is an investment in human resources which may bring a tangible result. Needless to say, coaching budgets should be allocated wisely – to support those employees whose growth will have an impact on the entire organisation. But be careful, do not forget what the meat of coaching is. If you coach a sales manager to meet their sales target next month, this is still just management. But if you see potential in this manager and believe that, with a few coaching sessions, in six months he can be even better – this is true coaching, and it will bring ROI.