The rights and wrongs of coaching programmes

Economy April 07, 2014 00:00

By Michael Heah
Special to The

2,848 Viewed

Many are getting into the coaching scene, offering all sorts of programmes and services. A sort of "coaching hype" is happening and has got quite a few people jumping into the scene of late.

I am keeping tabs on this situation and at the same time doing all I can to ensure that serious-minded people get to achieve their dreams and not see them turn into ashes. 
This article is one of my ways in helping out.  
Why is choosing the right coaching programme important? 
This is because if you get it wrong, it can lead to many adverse consequences. For the participants, it means wasting money and time and facing disappointment. For the coaching profession, it means a bad name with common remarks like, “There is really no difference between coaching and training,” or worse still, “If this is what coaching is, then it is something I already knew, perhaps more than the facilitator!”  Everyone is a loser in such a situation, including the trainer who conducts the “coaching” programme. 
How does such a regrettable situation arise?
Fundamentally, a good coaching programme must meet the following criteria:
First, it should ideally be conducted by someone who is or has been in the marketplace delivering coaching. This puts him or her in a good position to share (from the heart and guts) what coaching really is.  Instead of this ideal situation, many lecturers and conventional trainers are taking on this role without the practical coaching experience to go along with it. 
Second, coaching programmes should be delivered in a “coaching” way and not in a “training” way. This means that from the word go, students are taught the “how to” of coaching, and not confined only to the “what” and “why” of coaching alone. The way it is, many “coaching programmes” are taught like training programmes, with students sitting down and listening to a series of lectures on theories of coaching. What makes it worse is, what is supposed to be a coaching programme turns out to be actually a supervisory or management programme where a small part of coaching is embedded inside the many other subjects that are taught together.
Why is it important for “pure” coaching to be delivered? 
While acquiring knowledge on coaching is important as it gives the participants a theoretical foundation, it is unfortunately grossly insufficient, as the participants still do not know how to coach. Worse still, the trainers do not know how either, as they have not been in the field themselves. This is a very important point, as for all the knowledge you have acquired on coaching does not necessarily make you a coach at all. Often, such people are no different from someone who has read about coaching.  
It must be remembered that coaching is all about behaviour. Thus acquiring coaching competencies is of utmost importance. A coach’s quality is not determined by the amount of knowledge he has, but by the competencies he possesses.
What is inside a good coaching programme? 
A good one provides many occasions for the participants to practise coaching. It involves watching demonstrations by the coach, taking part in supervised sessions where coaching one another is done in the presence of all the students and the facilitator, and also engaging in private coaching sessions where all the students coach one another privately. This is not all, as students still need to log in the required coaching hours outside the classroom. 
A good coaching programme goes one step further in ensuring that the skills of questioning and listening are given extra emphasis. Centring the programme on acquiring coaching skills means that the students are on a “non-stop coach-learning spree” where they are “forced” to use coaching throughout the entire duration of the programme. As has been mentioned, this is very important, as at the end of the day, an excellent coach is judged by his ability to coach powerfully in moving clients forward.  
Finally, a good coaching programme is also a “self-coaching” journey for oneself. Why? Because if you can coach yourself, then there is a good chance you can coach others. So the coach facilitators are actually delivering a group coaching session to transform them in their outlook, values and world meanings as well as getting them out of their current issues as well. All of this adds up to making a good coaching programme powerful.
Corporate Coach Academy is a coaching school that trains leaders of all backgrounds to become manager-coaches or professional certified coaches in Asia. Log in or e-mail for details.