Coaching is a bit of a buzzword, and you may be wondering why you might want to work with a coach, and what you’d get out of it. Mark Edwards and Hazel Owen (Ethos Consultancy NZ) have worked together with Cyma in a coaching partnership for the last year, and in this post we set out to explore these questions from Hazel’s experience as the coach and Mark’s perspective as the coachee.
Have you had that experience where someone advises you to do something in a certain way, and is quite insistent about why, how and what should be done? What was your reaction? Perhaps miffed, resentful, or annoyed - or maybe you felt it was one way forward and gave it a go. The thing is, at the end of the day, advice is someone else’s take on your situation … and who you are as a professional. In comparison, coaching supports you to identify your own strategies, based on your skills, knowledge of your strengths, areas you would like to work on, and your context.
As a potential coachee (or coach), given the range of definitions and approaches, I feel it is important for you to find an approach that resonates with you as well as being suitable for the organisation in which you are working. The definition that feels comfortable for me is...
"A human development process that involves structured, focused interaction and the use of appropriate strategies, tools and techniques to promote desirable and sustainable change for the benefit of the coachee and potentially for other stakeholders." (Cox, Bachkirova, & Clutterbuck, 2011, p. 1)
In other words, it’s a fluid, responsive conversation where the coach uses an approach that draws on a range of tools and frameworks. The conversation helps you work through your thinking, ideas, and experience, and in doing so figure out a ‘way forward’.
In practical terms, coaching can help you:
See opportunities within your organisation
Identify next steps towards moving towards these opportunities
Develop personalised ‘toolkits’ that are tailored to the work you do - toolkits you might want to share with colleagues
Move through transition times, such as when you join an organisation, or move into a new role
Identify when you feel that you are no longer stretched, or enjoying, your role, and to seek other avenues (within the organisation, or within other organisations)
Identify possible risks (for the organisation, as well as professional and personal)
Work through immediate challenges and issues
Talk through strategies
Move through processes such as goal setting, planning, reviewing, and refining
The roadmap below illustrates the nuts and bolts of the coaching approach at Cyma, where people are seen holistically; as people who are professionals with a personal life, emotions, and areas they would like to work on that would support them outside of work, as well as in their professional role. It’s an iterative approach, with built in opportunities to revisit and review how well things are going at each stage, and reflect on ongoing learnings. This makes it easy to be responsive, identify risks, and address challenges and issues as they arise, as well as to plan for the future. At the end of an overall cycle (which is often related to goals) there is time to evaluate and refine in a way that feeds into the next iteration.
My description is a bit esoteric, so Mark shares his experience of this coaching approach below with a couple of actual examples.
In a nutshell, my coaching partnership has provided me with a disciplined focus to ‘sit down’ and pay detailed attention to my journey - in both my professional and personal life. It made me realise I spend more time planning things like outdoor activities, than planning my life’s journey, which is kind of weird!
Initially working with Hazel, I used my Cyma Professional Development Plan as a starting point, which was focussed on developing a leadership capability for innovation and new services for Cyma. It soon became apparent that I needed to consider much more than my professional development to achieve a work / life balance, so my personal development aspects were included as part of my coaching and development plan - something I’ve never really considered or visualised before.
The initial coaching sessions provided a foundation on which to develop a plan, out of which my goals and actions were established. We reviewed my progress on actions and discussed things like blockers, measurement evaluations, achievements and issues, using reflection.
As part of the regular coaching review process, not only are next steps and actions identified, but also evaluation (via scoring), on what didn’t work so well. This has been very beneficial for me to identify areas where I need focus, which, in turn, has led to the development of personalised toolkits.
The coaching sessions with Hazel have also provided an opportunity for me to reflect how I work on a day to day basis, and to develop a repeatable, structured approach to my engagements, resulting in a great customer experience in terms of professional working relationships.
Including my personal life aspects into coaching has allowed me to visualise and focus on a work lifestyle balance that allows me to plan to achieve it. By regular plan reviewing, it is constantly adjusted and helps provide focus on the things that are important to me outside of my professional work.
The visualisation below provides an overview of my coaching journey, showing how my Cyma Personal Development Plan and personal well-being is used to develop my own coaching goals and actions.
In summary, the coaching I receive at Cyma is a fantastic investment, not only on a developing professional level, but also on a personal level, to help me maintain a balanced and evolving lifestyle.
Whether you are a professional wondering if investing in coaching is worthwhile, or an organisation considering coaching for your employees, this post has hopefully illustrated some of the major benefits, and why it is worth taking the plunge.
We’d love to hear any questions and experiences you may have, so please jump into the comments below. You can also contact Mark at Cyma (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out more about his thoughts. Hazel is keen to work with you and your team to find that winning formula - so please contact her directly (email@example.com) to find out more about the coaching opportunities she offers.
Cox, E., Bachkirova, T., Clutterbuck, D. (2011). The Complete Handbook of Coaching. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
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