Some people consider coaching as not really part of work. Like training, networking or filling in your expenses they avoid doing it when there’s ‘proper work’ to do. It’s such an ingrained feeling that this has often permeated the culture of large organisations. Even when the worker is very eager to attend that ‘Negotiation Skills’ training course, his manager keeps making him cancel when she finds herself short-staffed. And then complains when he screws up yet another deal. The notion that there’s always time to do your job badly, but never enough time to spend learning to do it well, can be a real problem.
With coaching this can be even more stark. I always like to have a clear goal for the coaching programme as a whole, so the client knows and can articulate what they’ll get out of it. Even so, each session the client brings the topic, and we tackle whatever they want to achieve next. There’s no month-by-month syllabus that I can wave at a manager to explain what exactly we’ll be discussing in each session. This (intentional) flexibility makes it hard for some to be clear on the value before they experience coaching and see the benefits for themselves. In fact, taking a bit of time out to reflect on how you are working is always time well spent, and clients frequently tell me that it had felt tough to make the space for coaching, but now they’ve done it they’ve easily made up the time through better priorities, higher effectiveness, and often less procrastination of tasks they’d been afraid to tackle.
There’s another sense in which coaching isn’t just for a rainy day. Sometimes clients come and feel things are going too well:
“Everything’s fine, I don’t have any problems to discuss”
Coaching isn’t just about the difficult, rainy times – it’s also great when things are going well. Sometimes things going well it one area can blind a client to other areas.
“Everything is going so well at work. Of course that means I haven’t kept the promise to be home before 7 and eating a meal with the family every day…”
I wouldn’t try to stop people feeling things are going well enough (I think endlessly striving for more isn’t a recipe for happiness), but often a reminder of the overall goal is enough to get them thinking about what next.
“I feel things are going really well – I’d love to use this momentum to consider our expansion plans now rather than in three months time!”
In good times as well as bad, it’s worth making some room for coaching. Experience shows it pays off!