To be an effective coach does not require you to be an expert in what the person wants to achieve but an expert in helping them to recognise that they have the means within themselves to achieve it. Therefore, coaching is about empowerment of the individual being coached. This is achieved through a coaching process which starts with the person having specific goals or outcomes they wish to achieve.
Having established what it is they want, the next step in the discussion turns to establishing if there is the time to achieve it, if the goal is realistic from the current start point.
The next step is to look at what options the coach has available to make it happen, what success will look like, and how both coach and learner will know if it was achieved.
The final stages should be about establishing the way forward and the will to commit to the plan, setting timescales and review processes.
The coach guides the person by questioning, clarifying, summarising and actively listening, to help them better define what they want (i.e. the goal) and establish:
- if it can realistically be attained within their expectations and from their starting point
- if it is truly worthwhile to them
- what is preventing them from realising the goal
- what options they have to overcome these obstacles
- how they might best apply themselves in this cause
- whether they have the resolve to make it happen
- a personal action plan
- reflection and review processes
Then repeat the process, adjusting as necessary.
Various coaching models exist that utilise this kind of process. Two well-established coaching models are GROW and OSCAR, which both follow similar patterns. There are many others, but these two work particularly well in terms of coaching for skills development such as in learning to drive.
Goal – what do you really want?
Reality – based upon where you are now is it realistic?
Options – what can you do to make it happen and what are the merits of each?
Will/Way forward – what will you do to make sure it happens? What is the way forward?
Outcome – what goals do you want to set?
Situation – how does your current situation impact on this?
Choices – what choices are open to you and what would the consequences of each of these choices?
Action – what action will you take?
Review – how will you make sure it happens?
Both follow a similar pattern of questioning and discovery.
The coach should not hint or suggest a course of action or solution of their own as part of this process – it is essential that this comes from the coachee. This is where the coaching role is very distinctive from the mentor, advisor, teacher or instructor roles – you shouldn’t offer advice and you certainly shouldn’t tell them what they need to do.
Coaching is a very powerful process as it helps the person being coached to realise they have the answers and by engaging in a coaching process/conversation they can uncover/unlock those answers themselves and as such become masters of their own destiny. Therefore coaching is the ultimate client-centred learning approach as everything comes from the client. If you like it is – getting the learning out of the client, rather than putting it in.