By Sara Guerreiro
Coaching is an important part of workforce training—but why, exactly? We’ll find out in today’s Advisor from guest columnist Sara Guerreiro, a consultant with The KonTerra Group.
Work challenges can either demoralize employees, decreasing their performance and those of coworkers or they can energize employees, generating further commitment to an organization’s mission and their own work and careers.
Many professionals can help employees experience and achieve the latter rather than the former. This includes coaches.
So, what is coaching?
Put simply, coaching is a process that aims to improve performance by helping employees become aware of and make the changes they really need and want.
While there are many different models of coaching, the most effective coach is a facilitator of learning. There is a huge difference between teaching someone and helping them to learn. Our coaches help employees learn to become fully aware of and tap their skills and motivation to improve their own performance.
Coaching works. Based on experience coaching NGO staff in high risk and other environments around the world, I’ve found coaching improves performance for the following reasons.
Becoming aware of the challenges is really the first step to overcome them (or to better manage them). This is a cliché, but it is very true. There’s even an Albert Einstein quotation on this, in which the famed scientist states “problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” Check. Coaching is all about becoming more aware of what you feel, learning exactly what you want and why you want it. A good coach won’t let you off the hook before you are crystal clear about your motivations, struggles, and desires.
Talking about it makes all the difference in the world. You might think you’ve read enough, know enough, and have been around long enough to know what’s better for you. You probably have. But what happens when you talk to yourself over and over again about the same struggles? Does it help you or does it make you even more confused? There’s something called rumination, which basically means that you continuously think about the various aspects of situations that upset you without really finding a way out. Talking to another human being about it makes all the difference in the world, especially when the other human being is skilled and trained on how to ask you the right questions—the questions that will provoke insights and help you gain clarity.
Setting up a realistic action plan might actually lead you to change something significant in your life. Yes, change is hard. But not trying to change is even harder. Maybe you won’t reach 100% of your goals, but how does 70% sound? If you have 20% confidence in yourself at work to begin with, for example, and you reach 70% confidence by the end of a 3-month coaching process, isn’t that a great investment? A plan with small, steady, and achievable steps will help you reach your goal.
Coaching is a powerful tool for a person at any level of an organization. It helps draw out what employees possess to meet work challenges in a way that increases performance, satisfaction, and resilience.
Sara Guerreiro is a consultant with The KonTerra Group. An attorney, Guerreiro has coached humanitarian aid group staff, taught law, and served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program.