Does Coaching Always Help?
I'll always say that coaching can help, and I believe it can help anyone, but I think there are some caveats to this. Two of the coaches I've worked with over the years didn't help me, at all. These two coaches had been given to me by my CEO's as coaches that 'work with all of our leaders', but the relationships weren't the right fit for me.
Firstly, the coaching relationship must be a good fit if coaching is going to help. And this doesn't mean that your coach has to be your new best friend, but it helps if you can trust them, feel that they will give you the right amount of stretch, support and challenge and that they get you.
Many companies fall into the trap of assigning the same coach to everyone, someone they've worked with for years and who might be offended if someone else was brought it, but if the relationship isn't right, the coaching isn't going to help. Whenever I've been asked to work with whole teams, I still always insist on discovery calls with everyone before starting the relationship, and I'll always offer to recommend someone else if the fit isn't right. I leave the decision with the individual, not the manager or training team.
Secondly, I believe the individual needs to want the coaching. If it's something that is being thrust upon them and they are on side with it, whilst it can still add some benefit, coaching will only work if the individual commits to, and delivers on the actions in between the sessions. If they are just going to pay lip service in the session and not actually do anything differently, then really it's just a conversation.
If the individual is committed to the coaching, and committed to taking action and doing things differently, then great things will happen. Commitment helps to create change. You need to be committed to the sessions, committed to creating time for you and committed to taking action.
And thirdly, I believe that coaching will only help if you're allowed to come up with your own solutions. If your coach spends more time talking than you do and tells you what you should be doing, this is my mind isn't coaching - it's mentoring. That's not to say your coach won't ask you the right questions, the uncomfortable questions and challenge your thinking and beliefs to get you to this point, but the best solutions for you, are the ones that you come up with. What works for me may not work for you and if I push you into a corner, that's not beneficial or helpful to you.
Like many professions, you'll find good, bad and indifferent coaches. Not everyone is great at what they do, not everyone has the same skills, knowledge and experience and not everyone is a fit for everyone. Coaching is unregulated and it's something you don't need a qualification or any experience for. Anyone can call themselves a coach, anyone can promote themselves as a coach and anyone can work with clients as a coach. And as a result of this, I've heard some horror stories over the years from people who have had really bad experiences with coaches and are wary of working with a coach again. And I totally understand that position.
But I stand by the fact that coaching can help anyone, if the relationship is right, if you're committed to the coaching and if you're allowed to come up with your own solutions it can be powerful and magical and life changing and incredible. If it feels right, go for it. If it doesn't feel right, keep searching until you find the right coach for you - they will be out there. And any good coach will recommend someone else or you to talk to if they don't feel right for you.
Kelly is an Executive Coach and Global Empowerment Coach for Leaders and HR Professionals at kellyswingler.com. She leads and coaches with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can all love our roles, find balance in our lives and so that we can all change the world of work for the better.