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Coaching Article April 2013

When you buy Coaching,

Do you know what you are buying?

The Seven Questions You Should Answer.

"Coaching fills in the gaps left open by other professional disciplines devoted to human development and learning".

"Coaching is the tool and methodology for self-actualizing psychology that the human potential movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s discovered."

"Coaching embodies the idea that we are made for change, growth, learning, and ongoing development..." (Hall & Duval, 2004)".


The initial emergence of coaching as a profession with a set of defined skills did not occur until the 1960’s (Mahler, 1964, 1974; Mahler & Wrightnour, 1973; Tobias, 1996). Even then it was in limited fields until the 1990’s. The past 10-15 years have seen a remarkable proliferation of individuals who define themselves as professional coaches. In-fact, from 1999 through 2006, the International Coach Federation (ICF) experienced a 400 percent increase in membership (Gestalt Review, 13(2):000-200, 2009; Stuart, & Simon, year 2009). So the questions about whether you know what you are buying when engaging a coach is important decision one has to consider. Below are a some critical questions leaders or managers in organisations should answer before securing a coaching company or individual coach services. They also need to be clear of what and why it be important to secure coaching services and what would be their expected outcomes, short, medium and long term. But more importantly how would they know that the coaching service is adding value given what they want to achieve.

.1.What is the underlying theory behind the coaching approach?

In 2008, a global coaching convention was held in Dublin based on a worldwide study to assess the current state of coaching globally. One of the conclusions around coaching as a profession it is based on multiple disciplines and knowledge from learning theories, adult development, behavioural & social sciences, leadership and management sciences, communication techniques. (GCC Report, Dublin 2008). In recent years, Neuro-science as well. Specifically some of the most common approaches to coaching are Gestalt, Ontology, Integral, Neuro-Linguistics Programming, and Neuro- Semantic/Meta Coaching.Which approach does your coach or their company use? Most importantly which one appeals to you and many be relevant to you company? All approaches work, depending on whether the coaching required is performance based, developmental or transformational. 2. What type of coaching does your company require?

Why do you need coaching?How would a coaching intervention assist your company?Is it improve performance of staff? ?Is s it to create or improve team spirit and build high performing teams?Is it to build capacity of leaders to manage change?Is it to improve communication or resolve conflict among staff and or leadership?Is it to improve or enhance the leadership styles of managers?Is it to change organisational culture or to introduce a coaching culture?Is it to improve the quality of work-life balance amongst staff or managers?Depending on your answers to these questions your company may require performance, developmental, transformational coaching, or a combination. Performance and developmental coaching are often required for middle, junior management levels and below, while at senior and executive levels transformational coaching would be more appropriate as individuals at this level of leadership do not often struggle with performance related problems, but more with embedded beliefs, values and frames that govern their experience of how they lead. Finally, what level of coaching do you require? Is it individual team, group coaching, or a combinations?

3. Does the Coach have credible coaching qualifications?

The quality of the coaching engagement is dependent on the standard, consistency, and rigour of the education, development, ethics and core competencies of the emerging profession. (GCC Report, Dublin 2008). How do you assess whether your coach has credible coaching qualifications? Do you go for someone who was trained more academically who is exposed to the theory and variety of approaches, but with limited actual skill of coaching or the one with more the actual skills and is a master in at least one approach or a combination of both? The best way to check this would be to check the coaching training providers on the country. What are the key qualifications they provide? Who accredits the training? Is it local or international? Does the training have a way of measuring coaching core skills for the individual? Is there evidence of how they measure the skills level, what are the core coaching skills that are tested and measured during the training? This would then help answer the questions what skills does an entry-level coach possess and what skill does and experienced coach possess? 

4. Is Your Coach Equipped Sound Coaching Models & Tools?

Does the Coach have a range of coaching models for different types of coaching that might be required by your company? Do they have specific tools to assist the client in navigating the coaching engagement? The models must assist both the coach and the client to set specific outcomes with evidence measures. Does the approach have specific models for performance, developmental and or transformational coaching?

5. How does Your Coach Maintain and Improve their Coaching Skills and Competencies?

What professional bodies do they belong to locally and internationally? Do the associations that they belong to provide Continuous Professional Development Programmes? What are the coaches’ requirements for that? To whom are they accountable to regarding their professional ethics and conduct? Most professional coaches in South Africa belong to Comensa (Coaches & Mentors of SA), other also belong to the SA chapter on the ICF, in addition some coaches schools or approaches have their own associations to ensure that their members are supported and to monitor CPD, e.g. the Meta- Coaches belong to the Meta-Coach Foundation and have a rigorous CPD programme where in addition to monthly practice/ supervision session every coach have to retest their skills every four years

.6. Is Your Coach Being Coached?

Being coached is an absolute must for a coach it also serves many purposes. Amongst others it ensures that your coach is always in a good state to coach so you get their full presence. Coaches are human beings and they are also experience what everybody experiences in life, in addition they are continuously being actualizing themselves as a result having a coach makes them to always be on top of their game and not project their issues on the client. Being coached could serve as a supervision strategy as well

.7. Does your coach sell hours or a coaching package?

Selling a coaching package ensures that the coaching intervention is outcome based rather than time based. It also avoids a coach trying to complete hours so they can bill even if the coaching outcomes have been achieved. So what does a coaching package include? This will depend on the type of coaching approach, the availability of effective coaching models and tools the coach has, and chosen and the experience of the coach. Some are rigorous and are able to give you results with 6-8 core-coaching sessions while others could take up to 12 sessions to achieve one outcome. A coaching package should at a minimum include one introductory session where coaching outcomes are set, an average of 6-7 core coaching sessions and one review session. If the coaching is developmental in nature, it may include some skills training in between coaching sessions.

                               Gloria Mbokota: Executive Coach and Trainer

                         (MindLib Leadership Solutions)

       April 2013

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