This post is based on the assumption that you’ll value being coached as much as you value providing coaching. I have yet to come across a coaching manager who doesn’t appreciate the benefits of the learning partnerships that coaches and coachees form. You will find as many opportunities to be coached as you will to provide coaching and we need to consider what it’s like to be on the receiving end. This will help you get the most from a coaching relationship from a coachee perspective and also build your appreciation of the thoughts and feelings that the prospect of being coached can provoke.
Consider these reactions to the idea of being coached:
• The last thing I need is yet another person telling me what to do
• Coach me? They’ve been here half the time I have!
• I don’t need a coach, I can work this out myself
• I don’t want to progress, I’m happy as I am
• My manager coaches me whether I like it or not. I don’t get a choice
• What I am really looking for is a mentor to show me the ropes
• That’s great a coach will be able to find some good courses for me to attend
• The senior team get coached, so why shouldn’t we?
• Well I do need some help settling into my new role
• We’ve really got to raise our game if we’re going to meet target
• My career has ground to a halt. I don’t really know what to do next
• Well if it can stop me working all the hours God sends I’m all for it!
We can usefully classify these reactions in a kind of traffic light system. The first set – the red lights – are a stop signal. Our coaching will be meaningless until we acknowledge these misconceptions and take time to clarify exactly what coaching is.
The second set – the amber lights – allow you to begin to coach but we must again acknowledge that something is missing. Coaching may meet these initial expectations but we should take time to highlight the real benefits that it will bring.
The third set – the green lights – are your signal to get going. They represent the perfect backdrop to establishing a coaching relationship and I’m guessing, best sum up your own thoughts to being coached.
What then can you expect to happen as a coachee? You can expect your coach to act as a sounding board, an active listener and a co-learner. They will help you clarify your needs and bring focus to your goals. You can expect to be pushed and be given ‘homework’ but also to be allowed to make mistakes and learn in your own way. You need in turn to be prepared to be fully involved, to design the type of relationship you’ll have and decide when the coaching can ease off or stop.
We sometimes talk in terms of a person’s ‘coachability’. That is their readiness, willingness and ability to be coached at this moment in time. How would you rate you own coachability right now?