Partnering, People and Performance

January 2014 Newsletter

Coaching: Is it for your organisation? Is it for your people?

As a new year begins many organisations are investigating how they can improve business performance by helping their people achieve their potential.

Coaching could be the answer. But before you introduce coaching into your workplace beware the ‘jump in and learn as we go’ approach. Coaching should not be undertaken lightly.

Often coaching starts informally; an experienced person helps someone who is struggling. This is definitely mentoring but it’s not necessarily coaching.

Priorities for organisations

Organisations need to be clear about:

  • The roles of internal coaches, human resources, external support and the people being coached
  • How coaching is perceived?
  • Signing up for coaching has to be voluntary for the person requiring some help
  • The part managers play in this process
  • What coaching is not and does not do
  • Other developmental activities and how these fit alongside coaching, for example mentoring, advising and informing.

So what is coaching?

 According to the CIPD ‘coaching targets high performance and improvement at work and usually focuses on specific skills and goals.’ Typically lasting a relatively short time, coaching ‘may also have an impact on an individual’s personal attributes.’

The CIPD also says that coaching is:

  • essentially non-directive
  • focuses on improving performance and developing skills (both organisation and personal)
  • provides feedback on strengths and weakness
  • is a skilled activity, which should be delivered by trained people. However, this might be line managers or others trained in basic coaching skills.

The Association for Coaching (AC) defines Personal/Life Coaching as

‘A collaborative solution-focused, results-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee.’ (Anthony Grant, University of Sydney, 2000).

In addition to this it also says that Executive Coaching ‘…is specifically focused at senior management level where there is an expectation for the coach to feel as comfortable exploring business related topics, as personal development topics with the client in order to improve their personal performance.’

But if it’s Corporate/Business Coaching you’re after the AC requires ‘… the specific remit of a corporate coach is to focus on supporting an employee, either as an individual, as part of a team and/or organisation to achieve improved business performance and operational effectiveness.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as

‘…partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honour the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole.’

What is common across all these definitions?


  • has a defined purpose and outcome
  • is guided by the coach but led by the person being coached
  • requires skill, preparation, reflection and the desire of the coach to enable the person being coach to succeed
  • is built on clarity, mutual trust and willingness by both parties to explore what is helpful and creates a learning partnership.

Two definitions that I use are:

‘Coaching is a series of meaningful discussions that facilitate the performance, learning and development of another, this can be either at work or with present or emergent personal dilemmas.’ (Peter Mayes 2009).

‘Coaching is the art of enabling, encouraging, enhancing effectiveness and effort.’ (Peter Mayes 2013).

Getting started
Organisations should:

  • Identify people in your organisation who have experienced the benefits of coaching for themselves
  • See if they would like to be coaches
  • Assess and train them
  • Ensure they have access to a professional coach during the learning period and a mentor/supervisor once coaching begins

The basic principle is start small, build on success, review what works for you and spread the template of successful coaching to other parts of your organisation.

How do I prepare for coaching?
Start with who, why, what, where and when:

Who: the person to be coached

Why: the reasons the person needs coaching

What: the content of the coaching, what needs to be learned

Where: the location of the coaching and the equipment and facilities required

When: preparation time, session time, overall timescale

Coaching: Are your people ready to benefit? Does your organisation want improved performance?

If you want your people to perform you may well need a partner to help you create a template for your organisation, as the saying goes I would be happy to help