The many different shades of coaching & coaching psychology are becoming an ever increasingly popular tool for supporting personal & professional development. With a raft of 2-week life-coaching courses through to MSc qualifications in coaching psychology there are a wide range of views and opinions of what coaching & coaching psychology really is; and more importantly how effective the process it really is? Interestingly, just over six out of ten respondents in the CIPD Learning and development survey reported that they now use coaching in their organisations. Of these just over 50% say that their organisation see coaching as a ‘permanent style’ and desirable form of management. Moreover, 73% of respondents expect to see coaching by line managers increase in the next few years. So is this trend the latest management fad or something for business to build on to help manage people at work in the 21st century?
Coaching & coaching psychology is a relatively new discipline and there may still be a lack of understanding of how best to use coaching or coaching psychology models – and in what situations it will be most effective. So what is coaching psychology? There is some confusion about what exactly coaching psychology is, and how it differs from other services such as some forms of coaching, counselling and or mentoring.
Coaching psychology endeavours to be an evidenced based process of identifying an individual’s hopes, talents and goals, whilst helping them to find the confidence and skills to achieve their aims. From athletes to top businessmen – good coaching is now recognised as one of the key elements of success in all major competitive fields – this is why it is one of the fastest growing business skills today. What do you want to be – a decision maker & problem solver, better manager, a leader, more energetic, better organised, a great public speaker or a sporting success. Though coaching psychology is essentially a non or perhaps a semi directive process but still a structured form of development.
Coaching psychologist can be trainers, experts in their field and most are members of organisations such as the British Psychological Society Special Group of Coaching Psychology and the Association of Business Psychologists. As a result providing an ethical framework and some legitimacy to their work. Needless to say, coaching psychologists are there to help discover what YOU want, and to develop your potential. Rather than imposing a set of beliefs, obtuse value systems or a course of action upon you, a coach will work co-operatively to help you make the decisions to change your life.
Typically, the process of coaching psychology involves:
- Identifying what your goals are and turning these goals into concrete objectives
- Help create a self-image that could achieve these objectives.
- Forming a structures plan to realise the goals.
- Building a support framework
- Executing the plan and looking at the feedback loops
- Monitoring and celebrating success
Though does coaching work – this is the $64m question. Research into coaching psychology is lagging behind the meteoric growth in the industry. Interesting research from Jonathan Passmore into coaching and learning is beginning to provide the evidence to support the claims from coaching psychology. However, the “coaching industry” is littered with self-help guru’s espousing a philosophy to change your life in 30 minutes by just focussing your thoughts and language or just to be more positive. Though without meaningful research how do we know that it works or are you just wasting your hard earned cash? It is notoriously difficult to measure the subjective experience of individual change though coaching without providing meaningful benchmarking data before the intervention and then afterwards. However, sometimes easier to measure the harder outcomes in business – for example increased sales or enhanced interpersonal skills etc.
More and more business leaders and managers want to coach people at work, to help them perform better and to feel engaged at work. Coaching as with most things at work, is primarily an interpersonal and communication skill that can be learnt. However, having run a number of organisational coaching courses, sometimes those skills can require a lot of hard work to ensure that they become integrated into everyday conversations between staff members and line-managers. Hence the need for continued one-to-one coaching for the learner to cement the key skills and abilities necessary to coach people at work. Listening and reflecting on the coachees thoughts and lived narrative experience can be taught and implemented with care. Though “care” being the operative word; when coaching becomes counselling, the manager may not have the skills or ethical guidelines necessary to manage the ensuing fallout.
So coaching and coaching psychology have a long way to go to support many of the claims made about effectiveness of the intervention. However, with care appointing your coach or coach trainer and asking them about their credentials and experience you will find a coach that can help you reach your goals. Therefore supporting both personal and organisational goals and objectives with success criteria & data for a return on investment to perhaps prove its worth.