Posts Tagged ‘Coaching skills’

Resilience for Coaches and their Clients

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Thoughts from that Coaching Bloke

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Association for Coaching

There are still a few places left in most of the workshops and masterclasses.


Come and hear Tony Grant tell us whether coaching really can enhance resilience, well-being and happiness. Or take a masterclass in Mindfulness with Michael Chaskalson.


If you can’t come, you can still follow us on Twitter @ACUKCoaching, and see live tweets from the conference using #acukconf (please join in). And you can find us on Facebook under ACUKCoaching.


Booking is by credit card via Paypal from the conference website: You don’t need to have a Paypal account. If you have any problems in booking through the automated system, contact Sarah Adams: or 077 337 37919.


The AC UK Resilience Conference has 2 streams during the day. One focuses on coaching for health and wellbeing, while the other focuses on supervision, ethics, reflective practice and CPD as a means to increase the resilience of the coach.


Keynote speakers include Tony Grant, Peter Hawkins and Stephen Palmer. David Lane and Michael Chaskalson lead masterclasses in the afternoon and there are 4 further workshops to choose from.


Full details are on the conference website: Check out the conference sponsors – some have special offers. The website was designed by John Liston at and he’d love to hear from you.


Information about the conference is below:

Association for Coaching
AC UK is partnering with the University of East London again, this time at their Docklands campus which is next to Cyprus DLR station.


There is an impressive array of eminent speakers, masterclass and workshop leaders from the academic and coaching practitioner worlds. There will also be an evening drinks reception and informal launch of the latest AC book Supervision in Coaching.


The challenges faced today by coaches and their clients demand new levels of strength and resilience. Coaches need to sustain their own health and wellbeing, both physically and psychologically in order to continue to coach in a highly effective and appropriate way and to sustain their business. Appropriate supervision and CPD is an important part of this.

Keynote Speakers


Blue ArrowDr Anthony Grant: Does coaching really enhance resilience, well-being and happiness? Lessons from the lab to reality TV and back again!


Blue ArrowProfessor Stephen Palmer: Health and well-being coaching: A cognitive behavioural approach


Blue ArrowDr Tim Anstiss: Resilience Techniques of the Ancients


Blue ArrowProfessor Peter Hawkins: Developing the Ethical and Emotional Capacity of the Coach in Supervision


Blue ArrowDr Christian Van Nieuwerburgh: Reflective Practice and Ethical “Dilemmas”


Blue ArrowDr Chris Johnstone : Evoking Resilience in Times of Uncertainty

Workshops and Masterclasses


Blue ArrowProfessor David Lane: CPD in Coaching – being our own best Critical Friend


Blue ArrowMichael Chaskalson: Mindfulness


Blue ArrowRoy Childs: How Resilience affects your Coaching Practice


Blue ArrowArielle Essex: Inside Out Wellness


Blue ArrowJane Keep: Building Resilience for Consistency and Steadiness


Blue ArrowKate Burton: Coaching with Energy

14th July 2011 University of East London, Docklands Campus


£135 +VAT AC members; £185 +VAT non-members

For more information and to book visit:

How coaching benefits the organisation

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

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Coaching as the lynchpin of Organisational Development

Coaching as the lynchpin of Organisational Development

All organizations are concerned with performance. Where the profit-making enterprise will concentrate on the bottom line and creating value for its shareholders, the public organization will need to provide value for the communities it serves; who fund it in one way or another via taxation. Even the ‘not for profit’ organization will want to perform, because it is a ‘not for loss’ organization too. Coaching improves performance at the organization level, because organizations are collections of people and if they perform better as individuals and teams so does the organization as a whole. The bottom line will increase largely as a result of improvement in the top line – turnover and productivity – rather than swinging cost-cutting exercises.

Organizations that see coaching as a key management skill produce more, but with no loss of quality. Staff who are coached feel more valued and tend to care more about the quality of output they produce. Formal quality methodologies such as those provided by the International organization for Standardization (ISO) or Investors in People (IiP) are welcomed by employees and not seen with the cynicism that is otherwise often the case. Staff who are coached feel genuinely appreciated and respond in kind.

Many staff will have responsibility for resources; finance, time, equipment, staff of their own and so on. It follows that the organization will want to see these resources put to good use. Coaching has an emphasis on making people responsible and empowered and organizations that are benefiting from coaching know they can trust their staff to use resources wisely. Take for example an account manager with their own budget for client entertainment. Is there any reason to expect that they will be any less careful with the amount they spend than the executive in charge of the function? Coached properly, they’ll exercise as much discretion as the next person. Strangled by expenses claim forms and signing off procedures they’ll likely find ways of hiding expenses as a way of ‘getting their own back’.

I remember doing some follow-up work in an organization whose managers we’d trained as coaches and being told ‘you know, coaching makes people think as if this place was their own business’. What a wonderful outcome! One thing that follows this change in thinking is a definite improvement in customer service as employees begin to realize that the customer really is the most vital cog in the whole machine. Once organizations have been established with investor’s money, customers become the only real source of revenue and profit. Every other business activity is simply a different way of spending customer’s money. Customer facing staff can only treat customers as well as they feel treated themselves. Thus if we treat staff better through coaching they will in turn take more care of the customers.

A coaching organization will see relationships improve across the whole organization as people get together and have coaching conversations. Of course there have been conversations at work of one kind or another as long as we’ve had organizations, but a coaching conversation is different. It is firstly a meeting of equals where the tacit agreement is that anything can be raised and discussed openly and honestly. It is a conversation that looks ahead to what needs to happen next rather than one which dwells on what happened. It is one where every last drop of learning is sought but that also emphasizes taking action. In the end, coaching is about doing not talking, but talking means we do the right things.

With coaching as the prevailing management style, morale and motivation improves with a consequently dramatic effect on staff retention. Given that the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) estimates the average cost – in the UK – of an employee leaving at £4625, this is clearly a significant gain.

It has been said that people join organizations but leave managers and there is probably a lot of truth in this. Listen to the conversations in coffee shops and bars where workers gather at lunchtime and take note of their moans and groans. Some will be grumbling about the lack of choice in the staff restaurant or the battle for car-parking, but I’ll bet the majority of complaints are about treatment at the hands of management. Of course coaching alone cannot fix otherwise destructive relationships but it does shine a light on where things are going wrong and what may need to change. So coaching not only helps us retain key people in the organization but also their skills and attributes. We’re constantly being told by the business gurus that we now operate in the knowledge economy, that the days of labouring in exchange for wages and salary are over and that firms live or die by their ability to change, learn and use their core competencies and knowledge. We need to cultivate the knowledge and skill that reside in the workforce, nurture and develop it and ensure it is passed on to the next generation. What better way to do this than through coaching?

There are counter arguments though. Some say that there’s no point in hanging on to staff that have reached the top of their salary scale unless you can offer them career advancement which isn’t so easy any more. Others suggest that investing in the development of staff is a waste as they’ll probably leave and their next employer gains all the benefit. I believe both these arguments are flawed. There is more to working life than climbing the greasy pole of career advancement and if people are earning enough to fulfil their needs, learning, developing and enjoying themselves the chances are they’ll stay. Some might leave for more money and good luck to them, that’s their choice and are they the people you’d want to hang around anyway? Some might leave after you’ve invested in the training, but that’s no reason to withhold development from everyone else. You can always insert a ‘payback clause’ in any agreement to fund say, an external qualification. If we’re having coaching conversations regarding people’s current situation at work and how they’d like to see that developing, recognize as well that from the organization’s point of view we’re capturing invaluable data for career and succession planning. Coaching also helps solve the conundrum of ‘I’m okay where I am and don’t want to progress’. This is not a normal reaction and in my experience has been caused by poor management in the past or external factors getting in the way now. Again, progress does not have to equate to a new job with a promotion; coaching helps people progress in terms of being the best they can be in their current role.

Many of the benefits we’ve considered until now are available in the short-term, but coaching also offers the prospect of building a foundation for new skills development as the organization becomes more used to learning, makes it part of what it means to work there and attracts people with a learning disposition. All of which will make the organization more competitive as the knowledge and skills needed to operate successfully in a market need constantly to be updated.

Some ageing managers may have been able to resist the technological revolution when word processing was all they had to worry about; after all they still had their secretaries to take care of such things, but what about the impact of the internet and digital communications? Managers and staff at all levels and in all organizations are having to get used to the new business models and ways of working that the internet has brought about. Teachers cannot afford to be left behind by their pupils. Business leaders cannot afford being overtaken by two young people on a laptop in a bedroom and we can none of us afford to ignore the opportunities and threats that the digital age presents. But all of this requires an ability to learn at speed. If, as has been suggested, high performers are simply those people (and organizations) that learn quicker then we are obliged to turn to coaching to make that happen. It follows that coaching also prompts entrepreneurial thinking as it encourages people to think creatively and offers rewards for voicing ideas

Coaching over the longer term also offers better value from learning and development activity. Classroom training, for example, has been shown to have a much grater effect when the trainee is supported by their ‘coach’ as they put into practice what they’ve learnt. Of course there is a time and possibly a monetary cost of putting the coaching in place, but this is a fraction of the amount lost through poorly implemented training or learning that is allowed to wither on the vine. If training budgets are tight, coaching represents the most efficient means of employee development, when perhaps more formal training or courses are not available. When line managers deliver the coaching, their staff are learning and developing every working day, not just at formal training sessions. I mentioned earlier the comment about employees behaving as if the business were their own. What if everyone in the business thought and acted as if they were self-employed. They’d be looking to be the best they can be, they’d be mindful of cost, and constantly alert to new opportunities. Coaching may not foster this spirit everywhere or for all of the time, but it’s certain that command and control won’t do it at all!

The benefits of coaching for the coachee

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

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Better coaching = Better performance

Better coaching = Better performance

The most obvious way in which the people you coach benefit from the coaching you do is in an improved level of performance. If they are sales people, they’ll sell more. If they are themselves managers, they’ll manage better. If they are administrators, they’ll become better at administrating. If they are lecturers they’ll deliver more interesting lectures. I can’t think of any area of work that won’t improve with effective coaching. Of course, if your organization links such improvements to financial rewards then there’s an obvious carrot to dangle. However, as we’ll see later on, this may be a rather clumsy approach to motivation and I would suggest you stress some of the other benefits I’ll outline here too.


People who are coached report that they find there work more interesting. This is because coaching makes them curious once more. I once trained as coaches the managers who worked in a factory that made cosmetic components; the brushes and applicators for mascara and so on. How can I motivate someone who job is simply to glue bristles on to make up brush stems as they trundle pass on a conveyor belt? I was asked. My advice was to coach around interest and ask the person concerned questions like. How could this line be better organized? How could you increase throughput by 10%? How much wastage could be avoided? To answer such questions, the people we coach have to pay more attention to what they’re doing and as such even the most mundane of tasks become interesting and possibly even fun…


This leads to another benefit of increased confidence. The two ingredients to confidence are success and responsibility for that success. Let’s say our production line operator finds a way to increase throughput by 10%, and does so entirely on their own initiative. It may seem a small accomplishment in the grand scheme of things but could provide the employee with a real fillip from which we can build. In a similar vein, coaching leads to expanded comfort zones as people realize they’re capable of much more. Try this exercise: From a standing position, go into a squat until you just begin to feel a slight twinge in the thighs. Call this position 1 and hold it for about 20 seconds. Now squat further down until you’re thighs hurt a fair bit and it feels quite uncomfortable, Call this position 2 and hold for about 10 seconds. Now return to position 1. Doesn’t this feel much more comfortable (and a relief!) than the first time? When we try new things and achieve some successes and some learning with the help of a coach, our comfort zones at work expand in much the same way. I am regularly delighted by people I meet on training courses who stutter and mumble their way through the icebreakers only to make interesting and articulate flipchart presentations by the end of the course. It’s amazing what we can achieve when supported by people who want to see us succeed.