MANAGING people in today’s dynamic workforce — and at a time of rapid change — is a challenging role. The management skills required now are very different from those in the past, though the need to deliver results remains constant.
Studies have shown that the most effective managers are able to coach or train their staff to improve performance and develop their skills. Staff benefit from a manager who can routinely observe, assess and interact in ways that develop and maximise their individual effectiveness.
There are varying interpretations of what coaching and training are, and coaching, in particular, is a relatively new discipline. To help you understand the two better, I would define both training and coaching as follows:
Training, simply put, is where those with knowledge, experience and expertise in a certain field instruct and teach individuals who have less knowledge, experience or expertise in that field.
Training is directive, meaning the trainer is the expert in the area of learning. He will tell, direct and instruct those he is training what to learn and how to learn it, so as to promote enhanced performances.
Coaching, in its simplest form, is where a coach facilitates enhanced performance learning and development in the individual he is coaching.
The coach achieves this, not by imparting knowledge, but through coaching methods that create awareness in the individual being coached of his own skills, knowledge, expertise and possibilities.
The coach then motivates individuals to effectively and efficiently use all skills, knowledge and expertise available to them to be who they want to be, have what they want to have and do what they want to do.
Coaching is non-directive, meaning the coach does not tell or instruct. The coach elicits expertise and resources already present in the people he is coaching, so they can choose their own direction and the best way forward to enhanced performance.
Coaching is a discipline somewhat misunderstood. This confusion is understandable as, quite often, coaching is associated with sports coaches who train players or athletes.
However, if we consider the two techniques, training and coaching, we can see that sports coaches probably incorporate both. For example, sports coaches:
• Train — they give instruction on what to learn and how to learn it so the athletes or players learn from the sports coach’s expertise and, in doing so, turn in enhanced performances; and
• Coach — they elicit the skills, expertise and potential already present within their athletes or players before motivating and providing them with the confidence to produce enhanced performances.
It seems, therefore, that a realistic and effective approach for managers who wish to develop their staff is to blend the skills of training and coaching as a practical way of growing the skills and potential of their staff.
Many models of coaching exist, though a popular model has become common over the past few years, probably because it is simple, practical and produces results. This model is called the GROW model.
GROW is an acronym for Goal — current Reality — Options — Will. The model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring a coaching session.
A useful metaphor for the GROW model is the plan you might make before an important journey. First, you start with a map; with this, you help your team members decide where they are going (their Goal) and establish where they currently are (their current Reality).
Then you explore various ways (the Options) of making the journey. In the final step, establishing the Will, you ensure your team members are committed to making the journey and are prepared for the conditions and obstacles they may meet on their way.
In order to use the model, as with any training or coaching tool, there is the need to facilitate the process. It is important to understand the basic skills needed for effective facilitation and develop the tools needed to build effective relationships between the coach and the “client”.
When this has been achieved, the GROW coaching model becomes a powerful tool to achieve results in a practical and effective manner.