About Coaching


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What is coaching?

Coaching is one of the most powerful personal and professional development strategies there is. It is is based on the belief that, with time to reflect,  we all have the solutions on how to move forward within ourselves. It engages staff, empowers them, embeds change and moves people forward. Although related to mentoring it is more powerful as it encourages staff to take ownership and responsibility for their own development. It is also longer lasting as it develops new ways of thinking and a sense of independence that mentoring doesn’t give. 

Coaching isn’t a soft option!

Coaching can sometimes be perceived as a soft option particularly as telling someone what to do is also often seen as being more ‘in control’ and authoritative. Simply asking questions can seem too woolly and random and not focused on the real issues. A good coach can however achieve much greater long term embedded change. They can ask very challenging questions in non threatening ways which gets individuals and teams to reflect more deeply and take ownership of issues. 


Coaching is:

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  • A personalised professional development opportunity where the person being coached is in control of their learning. 
  • A method that focuses on strengths and building and maintaining self esteem
  • A way of developing the potential all individuals have
  • A way of focusing on areas of personal and professional interest
  • An opportunity for the coachee to be listened to and a chance to reflect on their practice
  • A positive process that believes there are solutions to all problems within the coachee themselves 
  • A way of challenging individuals to move beyond their comfort zones but within a ‘safety zone’
  • About breaking down challenges into manageable goals
  • A way of developing teams and encouraging mutual support and the sharing of best practices
  • Something both the coach and coachee benefit from equally
  • For all staff no matter what their role in the workplace, experience or level of skill
  • Totally confidential

Coaching should not be:

  • Judgemental
  • About the coach being the ‘expert’
  • About being ‘told’ what to do or being ‘advised’
  • Mentoring or counselling 
  • Just targeted at staff experiencing problems
  • Used as a restrictive tool that masks a more formal oppressive lesson observation process. Be wary of using coaching as a ‘meet, observe, feedback’ format where the coach controls everything and where deep reflection is limited. 

Different ways of coaching and being coached

  • Meet a coach formally on a one to one or small group basis (note meetings can be of any length from a few minutes to an hour or more)
  • You might work with someone you know or someone you don’t and you may or may not be familiar with their role (it can actually be easier if you don’t know them or their role)
  • Your might coach someone more senior or more experienced than yourself 
  • You might work with someone who is already good at something or where you are at the same level of skill
  • The coach can identify an ‘expert’ for the coachee to observe / work with / shadow
  • Email or telephone coaching 
  • Corridor / informal chats (encouraging a coaching ethos and culture across the institution)
  • Working with a qualified coach has the benefits that they are usually more experienced at asking challenging questions. 
  • Use of a coaching style on a day to day basis as a way of interacting with people

Benefits of coaching

  • Increases individual self awareness and helps them take control / ownership of their development 
  • Helps individuals to realise their potential
  • Creates more effective teams
  • Improves staff morale and job satisfaction
  • Improves performance in job roles
  • Increases the sharing of good practice 
  • Develops a mutually supportive atmosphere
  • Develops a solutions focused approach to challenges
  • Improves confidence in challenging situations
  • Increases risk taking
  • Increases creativity and innovative problem solving
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves relationships across an institution

Feedback from coachees & organisations coached by Julie Boyd

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