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Why Coach?


Have you ever left a job to get away from your manager? A 2015 Gallup study of 7,272 adults in the USA revealed that one in two employees had left for this reason. I’m not sure if the statistic is the same in the UK, but I certainly know plenty of people who have changed jobs because they didn’t like the way they were managed.

The same study suggests that good managers are able to:

  • Motivate team members
  • Be assertive
  • Take responsibility for their team’s efforts
  • Build good relationships
  • Make decisions about complex issues

These are high-level skills and unsurprisingly 44% of the new managers surveyed said they felt unprepared for such a role and 87% wished they’d had more training. The study also points out that many people are promoted into managerial and leadership positions without the development they need, based on an erroneous assumption that if they’re good at their job then they will be good at managing others to do that job.

And if it turns out they’re not and employees are unhappy or leave their jobs, this creates additional burdens for those managers, as they now have to recruit and train new people as well keeping on top of their regular workload. This sets up a downward spiral of disgruntled managers with disgruntled employees…

And even when it seems on the surface that all is going well, many managers have problems with certain aspects of their job such as time-management, decision-making or conflict resolution. In their book, Coaching: The Manager’s Handbook, Søren Holm and Lena Sobel say:

All managers we have coached struggle with time – above all with getting the time in which to think further ahead, focusing on perspective and strategy beyond what is most urgent today.

They give three main reasons it’s a good idea for managers to learn how to coach:

  1. Coaching develops people. When the decisive competitive advantage lies with human abilities, then developing those abilities is incredibly important. Employees grow with coaching; they learn new things, become more independent and take more responsibility.
  2. Coaching frees the manager’s time. The more team members grow and take responsibility, the more time the manager has for that thinking beyond today.
  3. Coaching enhances the workplace culture. Coaching is about communication. The more open and honest the communication, the better the coaching works. Coaching also requires a combination of safety and challenge. The deeper communication that occurs in coaching conversations increases safety which in turn makes it possible to take on more challenges.

We have certainly noticed these benefits when we have introduced our coaching programmes into organisations. When we interview people afterwards, they say things like:

When I’m speaking to people at work, I now have more tools for more in-depth conversations. I was previously not able to get to the root of a problem. Now people are more likely to talk and we have more quality conversations.

I am becoming a better listener. Instead of saying, “You should do this,” I am asking open questions, so people actually think about what’s going on.

Rather than coming straight to HR, people are saying, “I’ve already had a chat with this person, that person.” They have been helping themselves.

And it’s not just the employees who get developed. Through the training and coaching they receive as part of the course, the managers get their own personal development:

I’m calmer. I used to be a hot-head. Now I sit back, listen, take everything in. It unfolds in my head. I think before I speak. I understand people better. There are less arguments and I don’t boss my partner around any more.

It’s made me look at my own life, the way I do things, issues I didn’t know were issues.

Now I’m getting things in perspective and I’m calmer. I’m taking time out for myself as well.

Coaching develops you as a manager and a human being – and over the past 20 years there has been an enormous growth in the use of coaching by a broader range of people and for a broader range of applications.

Human Resources Today lists a number of benefits including:

  • Increased employee engagement.
  • Improved team functioning.
  • Better relationships.
  • Enhanced cohesion and alignment.
  • Reduced attrition.
  • Increased self-awareness.
  • Greater resilience and agility with regards to change and challenge.
  • Increased profit.

Holm and Sobel have listed a number of workplace situations that can benefit from coaching conversations, including when an employee has a problem and wants something to improve, has new responsibilities, or when their performance is lacking. Coaching can take place within formal contexts like performance reviews or within everyday conversations. And you can coach your manager and your colleagues, not just team members.

What is coaching?

The essence of coaching is to guide someone to generate their own ideas, their own conclusions and their own action plans for achieving their goals - and empowering them to act. Jackie Arnold, author of Coaching Skills for Leaders in the Workplace, says:

No management intervention we know supports this process (of helping the employee to feel empowered to act) as effectively as Clean Language.

Our approach to coaching is based on Clean Language which was developed I the 1980s by clinical psychologist, David Grove. Learning to be a coach is about learning to listen, to keep your own opinions to yourself and to ask questions that elicit ideas from the client. Clean Language provides a clear and structured way to do this and to be sure that you do not inadvertently lead the other person by paraphrasing what they say or by asking questions that have your own worldview embedded in them. Instead, you repeat the coachee’s own words and ask questions that have been stripped of assumptions, as far as that is possible. By not introducing (even accidentally) your own content, Clean Language limits distractions. This means the coachee has little choice but to work with who they are and to find the resources they need within themselves.

How can you become a coach?

There are many different routes to becoming a coach – and if you’d like to use Clean Language as your main methodology then any of our courses would be a good starting point. And - whether you’re a manager who would like to learn how to coach at work or you’re looking for a new career as a freelance coach - it’s a good idea to get a qualification as evidence of your capabilities.

Our ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring is a rigorous training programme, based on Clean Language, that takes you through every step of the coaching process from contracting through to getting feedback from your coachees. Our three 2-day face-to-face modules (4-6 weeks apart so you have time to consolidate the learning) will equip you with the skills and coaching tools you need. These include models specifically designed for resolving conflict and helping people to make decisions as well as tools that can be used in pretty much any coaching conversation such as Clean Set Up and Clean Feedback. You will also undertake peer group coaching, practice with employees or clients (12 hours) and three written assignments - on the theory of coaching as well as on your own experiences, practice and development. This qualification is the academic equivalent of completing a Foundation Degree, 2 years of a regular degree or an HND qualification.

If you’d like to join our next ILM course, or if your whole team to benefit from a course in workplace coaching, please contact us for more information.

About Marian Way

Marian Way's avatar

A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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