Coaching is not a panacea or cure all. It is a tool which can be extraordinarily effective to achieve a purpose. Like all tools, it is effective when used skilfully and appropriately, recognising the appropriate fit for the purpose, when, where, how etc.
Coaching is not for everybody – the approach simply doesn’t bring value for some people for various reasons, which may be related to attitude, the coaching style or approach, or the coaching relationship amongst other things. However, some people find it is possible to change perspective and discover value in coaching. For example:
• You are already using this thinking style so it feels like the coach is not bringing anything new or a new perspective. The value comes when a good coach makes a difference by asking deeper questions to push beyond the limit of your comfort zone, with the benefit that you gain new insights, such as to how to move forwards and/or achieve your goals.
• You are already spending time to think about these issues, so you don’t value the time out of every day work to explore these issues with your coach. The value comes when your coach introduces a different perspective that you haven’t considered and uncovers assumptions you are not aware of – which are present more often than we realise as we get used to doing something the usual “way we do things round here”.
• You don’t value being accountable to a coach to make the changes and you feel you would do these things anyway. The value of coaching comes when you recognise you probably would let some slide, or not stick to your timeframe as other tasks seem more important that those you just set for yourself. The benefit is you are more likely to do what you planned and achieve your goals, when you keep your coach updated on your progress.
• You are looking for a consultant who will advise on the best way forward. The value of coaching comes when you recognise that you don’t need to be told what to do in this situation and you feel you will be more committed to doing things that you have identified and chosen to do yourself.
• You are not comfortable at opening up and discussing issues close to your heart, that may be sensitive or things you would not usually discuss with anyone else. It may be because you don’t have the right coach with whom you can develop a relationship where you can comfortably discuss these issues, or it may be that you simply don’t like talking about it. In any case, it can be quite likely that the coaching will not get to the nub of the matter and address the underlying issues. Addressing only the surface manifestations is not as effective or long-lasting or transferable to different situations. The value of coaching comes when you invest time initially to find a good match with your coach so you can develop a good rapport. You also explore with your coach what it means to you to share these problems, or ask for help, if it doesn’t come naturally, and what would make it easier to talk about. You can choose to focus on one thing at a time so it doesn’t seem overwhelming and your coach can ask questions that will help you drill down to address the core issue.
• You are not willing (consciously or subconsciously) to commit to the process and actually make the changes you discuss, reflect on what you do or complete actions. The value of coaching is when you make a conscious commitment to the process and explore with your coach to raise awareness of any barriers that you feel might get in the way.
• You think (consciously or subconsciously) all this mumbo jumbo is not going to make a difference. You think real factual evidence and ‘task focused’ efforts are what counts. The value of coaching comes when you can acknowledge that thinking about deep personal issues is rather difficult and may take time, and it is ok that there are no right or wrong answers. You can also recognise that your feelings, values, and emotional state can be “factual evidence” about you. You recognise that being fully aware of who you are and how you feel is important as it influences how you make choices and decisions in your life and work.
• You find yourself being irritated or not engaged during coaching sessions, or perhaps rather ‘turned off’ by the language the coach uses. The value of coaching comes when you invest a bit of time and research upfront to find a coach who has an approach and style of coaching that you can relate to.
There can, of course, be other reasons too.
I speak with experience having been one of those people who didn’t value coaching, for some of these reasons, although I have subsequently come to value the experience of being coached and work now as a coach myself. I also hear and see all these examples in different combinations when talking with people about coaching, particularly those who have had a bad experience or have friends who didn’t get anything out of coaching. I often don’t take these people on for coaching as there is no point using the wrong tool when it won’t help someone achieve what they are looking for. It only ends in frustration and disillusionment. However, some of my clients have initially approached me believing that coaching doesn’t work, and I still took them on as they were willing to explore how to find the value as I have outlined above and came with an open mind, a desire to work with me and a commitment to their future.
Many people find coaching provides real value when they take the time to find a good coach with whom they can work well. It is about finding a good fit so you can build a good relationship with your coach.
Coaching isn’t a tool to force or coerce change. Coaching is a tool to facilitate a collaboration to unlock a person’s potential, clarify purpose and direction, unblock barriers, create new horizons, energise, motivate, challenge and support their commitment to achieve their purpose. When it goes well, coaching is fun and wholly energising. I love it and my clients love it and usually leave my session buzzing with enthusiasm, hope and commitment. It is contagious and gives me energy too and a sense of satisfaction as they achieve what they are looking for.