While coaching in the workplace isn’t a new concept, my colleagues and I still encounter some commonly held beliefs about coaching that simply aren’t true. In this post, I’ll seek to highlight some of them and hopefully put your mind to rest.
1. Coaching is only for people with ‘serious problems’
This is a belief we encounter time and time again. It puts coaching in the same category as going to see a therapist or GP, in that you have to have something ‘wrong’ with you. Nothing could be further from the truth. In coaching, we work with our clients to unlock their potential and support them in reaching the goals that are important to them.
It could be working towards the next step in their career, developing the skills of a manager of people or building their confidence to tackle a thorny issue at work. Coaching is frequently about speeding up their existing professional development journey.
The bottom line: coaching isn’t about ‘fixing’ people.
2. My coach will tell me what to do about this challenge
New coaching clients will sometimes come to the table with the expectation I’ll give them a list of easy answers to their questions and a ‘to-do list’ that will make everything better. Quite simply, that’s not my job! A good coach will use their skills to help their client find the answers within themselves, exploring possibilities and then committing to take some action. There will certainly be some discussion and some probing, but it’s a dialogue. The coach won’t tell you what to do.
The bottom line: I’m not here to write you a to-do list.
3. Asking for coaching is a sign of weakness
This is a bit like the first item on this list, but it’s also something that can hold people back from raising their hand and looking for coaching support. Seeking out a professional to work with, to address a challenge or to build your skill set is far from a sign of weakness. To my mind, it’s a sign that the client wants to get things done and wants to move forward. It’s a sign that they take their own development and their own happiness seriously.
The bottom line: Don’t feel bad about raising that hand.
4. Coaching will let me get things off my chest
True, the confidential nature of coaching conversations can really allow the client to let rip and speak openly about their worries and frustrations. But coaching isn’t just about talk. Once the coach and client have agreed an agenda and explored some options, it’s about taking committed action and following through on that commitment. Coaching is about moving forward, experimenting with new ways of working, interacting and thinking. It’s not a talking shop and in fact, the most work is done by the client between coaching sessions.
The bottom line: You’ll have plenty of work to do between sessions.
5. I have to be ‘successful’ at coaching
Some clients will worry that they have to get everything right, first time, as if their coaching journey were a project at work. This can lead to unhelpful expectations and a form of pressure that just isn’t useful. A good coach will keep you focussed, help you identify where you want to get to, but also keep you accountable for the commitments to action that you’ve made. They won’t punish or mock you if you don’t make the progress you’d intended or if you find some changes more difficult that others.
They’ll support you but also explore those difficulties or ask you to think about your commitment to action. The coach isn’t your friend – they won’t instantly agree with you. The coach isn’t your manager – they won’t ‘punish’ you. But they will work to keep you on track and sometimes those conversations can feel uncomfortable.
The bottom line: You won’t get a performance score from your coach.
If you want to know more about the kind of coaching we offer and how it could help you attain your goals, get in touch!