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Four Reasons Coaching Works and How to Avoid the Wrong Coaches

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In the previous article, we saw the well-researched results of how effective coaching is to sustain behavioral changes when developing people in your organization.  Let’s look at how it works.

Professional certified coaching works because it is:

Data-driven for behavioral bench-marking.  Despite anecdotal online assertions, level-B coaching assessment tools are not like magazine quizzes, definitive tests, or static online polls with magical eight-ball results that tell people what to do next in their lives, varying widely in accuracy.  They are research-based, statistically sound, normalized results that compare your results with similar people in your gender, age, or job level so you can benchmark yourself in a larger comparable arena of competency. Your staff and volunteers will have data-based starting points, not emotional or personal ones, to begin to make changes.

Contextualized to the individuals.  Each person has his or her results discussed in private and applied to his or her own job or role situation.  The balance of competencies and application are unique to you, as are the methods for learning and applying changes in the contexts where you work and live. In other words, your staff and volunteers do not waste time trying to change who they are to fit into your programs; but rather, they invest in effective contribution where they are.

Relevant with visible rewards.  Coaching recipients choose what they want to change, which eliminates motivational resistance.  It also allows them to define and own the rewards for behavior changes that are most meaningful to them.  This means that your staff and volunteers see a direct impact for their active involvement in their own development.

Role boundaries.  Coaching is a discovery partnership where internal mechanisms for change are found and activated.  Unlike mentors who have usually “gone before”, consultants who are experts and counselors who are guides, certified coaches are observers who question and explore opportunities alongside their coaching recipients to move them forward.  Certified coaches observe the same APA (American Psychological Association) guidelines for confidentiality.  Your staff and volunteers will feel safe as they are developed.

Opportunity learning.  Coaching recipients do not practice their competency alone, but mutually interact differently with organizational “others”.  This creates interactive learning that does not exist in an ego-centric, programmatic, or academic vacuum. The navigational and observational learning means that your staff and volunteers build decision-making confidence individually and together.

Most of these are missing from typical self-help resources, change initiative teams, and learning management systems or training.  But all are key factors in reinforcing learning experiences, which sustains behavioral change.  People develop people.

This brings us to the issue of how to avoid the wrong coach for your organization.

  • Avoid a coach that isn’t certified to coach. Anyone can call themselves a coach, unfortunately. But trained coaches will adhere to professional standards in a field that borrows from sociology, psychology, business, and management. The International Coaching Federation is a professional organization that monitors certifications.
  • Avoid a coach that is not trained to administer assessments. Data-driven assessments make coaching successful; without them, outcomes and activities are subjective.
  • Avoid a coach that doesn’t challenge status quo or question established ethos. Growing forward means “maintaining” and “managing” are enemies. A good coach will ask the right questions that move people forward.
  • Avoid a coach that isn’t professional. Contracts, quotes, service details, timeliness, active communication, and outcome expectations matter in professional partnerships.
  • Avoid a coach that shares confidential information inappropriately. Individual sessions cannot be shared with other individuals. Period. Doesn’t matter if s/he is the boss or spouse. The only exception is, of course, in the interests of someone threatening themselves or another’s safety. Team assessments can often contain individual results (private), but only the combined team results can be shared with the team or team leader.  Coaching sessions are “safe” zones.
  • Avoid a coach who pushes his or her values on the client. Coaches question and probe, but do not judge or advise for or against any particular value expressed by those being coached. Religious-based coaching is an option for some who want coaches who share a particular value set, but such coaches will always be open about their training in that particular role as a coach.
  • Avoid a coach that will not maintain the relationship. Positive accountability and quality of care matter, particularly when sustained change is the goal.

A-Squared LAMP Groups makes professional certified coaching accessible and affordable to you and your nonprofit.  Thank you for the opportunity to share our passion to develop people and organizations with you. If we can help you with people or organization in any way, we would love to partner with you.

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