Individual coaching as a tool of development

2008-08-10

Katarzyna Kloskowska-Kustosz

 

Situation of managers

There are doubtlessly more end more challenges for managers. It is accompanied by the pressure of constant proving that one is efficient and deals greatly with everything. Being a manager today is a great challenge strained by loneliness connected with all the challenges. The cost of falling short to expectations is huge-both for companies and their mangers. Managers often balance between the expectations of shareholders, clients and employees-expectations which often exclude one another. Managers cannot admit that they lack skills, have doubts or dilemmas. They are supposed to be a model and a leader for their workers. They are supposed to be efficient managers -this is what they are paid for. Often something that used to be good enough is not like this any more in the face of growing demands. Then managers start to look for support.


Where do managers seek support?

Sometimes friends are of help. They may listen and support, however they are not professionally prepared to identify problems and teach necessary skills. And when they have their own problems they need to gain support, not to give it. Partners and spouses may be excellent listeners but in the long run if business and consulting enters family and marriage relationships it may turn against the ones who seek support. Maybe already partners and spouses have enough of "bringing work home" and listening about professional problems. Managers want to be more efficient, they want to act more quickly and be more trustworthy. They often realize the fact that they should change their behaviour, which is also often suggested by others. Everybody may occasionally face hardships which appear when they want to alter their behaviour and introduce changes in everyday professional life. They usually know what efficient management should look like. However, there sometimes seems to be an insurmountable gulf between "knowing" and "doing". We all feel anxiety and have our habits, limitations, fears, positive and negative experiences, system of values and beliefs. They sometimes prevent us, although we try hard, from smart and constructive reactions. Proposing managers individual coaching may be of help in such cases.


What is individual managerial coaching and why should it help in better dealing with challenges and problems?

There are many various theories and approaches to coaching. There are more and more organizations providing such services. Therefore, it is worth checking the competences of the coaches we want to employ. Most approaches define individual coaching as a process during which managers are supported in achieving their goals, solving problems and using their professional skills in the context of their professional functions.
Such coaching becomes a supportive relationship concentrated on development. It helps to better manage appearing problems and challenges.
Who is individual managerial coaching directed to?
There are two main reasons for which managers can be interested in coaching-desperation and inspiration. Desperation-to fill in the lacks and introduce changes. Inspiration-to know more, work more efficiently and manage in a smarter way. Both reasons are good as both may become the motor of development.

 

Who then should coaching be proposed to?

- managers of any level whoa are efficient in their work but want to develop, acquire new competences, master the ones they already have
- managers who start to notice problems with keeping their managerial efficiency and want to fill in the gap they have noticed
- young managers who have just entered managerial path and-in order to stay there-they need to learn new competences and manage efficiently any new challenges


Personal manager and coaching

Personal managers can use coaching in their own process of development. They can also apply coaching as a very effective tool which may be used for the development of managers in their organizations. Therefore, if they have knowledge about competences and connected skills necessary to hold a certain position and about strengths and weaknesses of managers, they may inspire these managers to try this option of development-option which is more efficient and convenient for managers than, let's say, taking part in a training. Managers often refrain from participation in trainings-they do not want to take part together with their workers and colleagues because they do not want to show lack of knowledge or skills. Moreover, they would rather not reveal their weaknesses to other participants-managers from different, often competitive companies. Usually even though they already have necessary knowledge, there is a gap between "knowing" and "doing", a gap which is hard to fill.

There is one more, very important reason for managerial coaching-simply lack of time to participate in a training which may last even for a few days. Coaching process usually means two 90-minute meetings with manager per month. This seems achievable for managers if we take into consideration their tight schedules. Such meetings usually last for 6 months, which is a necessary period to create new habits. They may also be held more frequently than once a month if a quick change is expected. These one-hour monthly sessions are not the only time when coaching takes place. Work over habits changing and goals achievement is also done between the meetings. Monthly meetings finished with homework task are barely the beginning of further, unassisted work of coached manger. Individual coaching guaranteeing confidentiality may turn out to be an interesting solution giving support in development and achievement of goals. HR manager, just like other mangers, may apply skill coaching in their organization which concentrates on correcting inefficient behaviours and planning more efficient ones. However, they will find it difficult, even if they have necessary preparation, to apply holistic coaching concentrating also on beliefs, values, habits and balance between private and professional life. Such holistic approach assumes great openness and confidentiality, which might be under threat in professional relations. Many organizations decide to create an independent position for a coach or employ external coaches and it seems to be the most optimal situation in reference to work with managers.


Contraindications against coaching sessions

Coaching sessions need to base on a few basic assumptions if they are to help managers in their professional work:
- The participant wants to take part in individual coaching sessions and accepts the rules of coaching. The coach will not be able to force the manager to develop. It is the manger who is responsible for the effects of their work, so development and change need to result from good will and responsibility of the participant. Therefore, if the manager does not want to participate in coaching sessions-there is no point in forcing them.
- Sessions must be regular if they are to be effective.
- If the manager cannot or does not want to commit themselves to such regularity, the effects of coaching are doubtful.
- The coach and the client need to trust each other, so if-for any reason-they do not get on well with each other, it is worth explaining such situation and look for a more appropriate person.


Summary

Smart development balancing all important areas of life is slowly becoming a great challenge and the need of our times. Therefore, it is worth trying all available tools of development. Individual coaching may certainly become one of them.