The Coaching Cycle
Before coaching another, it’s worthwhile stepping back and thinking about how the whole coaching support will work and if it is the right development option. Here, creative sector coach Alec McPhedran, offers a simple coaching cycle approach to get the best value out of a coaching intervention for the coach and the individual being coached.
For those of us who are team leaders or managers, coaching people can be seen as quite time consuming. The reason we do it is because the payback is so much more focused and incredibly beneficial. Investment of time in coaching therefore does have to be thought through first as managers are busy people. The coaching cycle is a useful thinking model and a potential discussion tool in offering someone coaching support as part of their development.
The cycle has five key elements:
The model is preferably used as a cycle based on continuous professional development for the individual. Make capable people able, make able people good and then make good people great. That’s what team leaders and managers can do to create high performing teams.
1 Identify development needs
As a training manager, I often had managers send people on training courses as this was thought to be the way to improve performance or deal with problem team members. The mindset shift had to be educating people that it was development first – not just training. Development is about how we give people new knowledge, skills and experiences. That actually may or may not be training. If we think of development and how we can give people new knowledge, skills or experiences, that really does widen your options and in this case coaching may be the most appropriate option. Once development needs have been identified, discuss learning with the individual and then determine if and how coaching will be the best way forward.
2 Coaching agreed as the appropriate option
Once coaching could likely be agreed, the person who will be offering the coach really should discuss and confirm with the other person what coaching is and isn’t. There are thousands of definitions of coaching so identify the one that works well for the coach and the individual and work with that. For me, coaching is facilitating the learning of another to help them reach their unique potential. You should also initially think about the types of coaching (formal, informal, planned, ad-hoc, etc) and how the time will be found to have coaching conversations. It’s also useful at this point to check the commitment of bot parties before moving forward.
3 Pre-coaching preparation and agreement
This is pretty important, especially if the coach is planning to offer a series of coaching support events to meet a specific development goal. This is known as the ‘contracting’ phase of coaching. There is plenty of information on contracting on the internet but it’s about agreeing outcomes and goals, roles and responsibilities, commitment and energy, confidentiality. Approach that would work best, who arranges and does what, etc. It’s so valuable to lay down the process and agreements right at the start.
4 Coaching intervention
A coaching intervention is essentially the coach, and in many cases in discussion with the individual as well, deciding on the most appropriate approach to the coaching. A useful starting point is to agree if the coaching will be formal, informal, instant, ad-hoc, on the job, etc. This helps the person being coached in knowing what to expect and how the coaching will be different to the normal day to day working relationship, especially if the coach is the team leader or line manager. A useful reference is Heron’s Six Categories of Interventions.
5 Reflect, evaluate and learn from success factors
An essential part of learning, and indeed often ignored, is the evaluation of any development. In the coaching cycle this is so important on a number of levels. First of all, has the individual improved or gained confidence? Has it been a valuable process for the individual and the coach? Has performance improved? Is the individual motivated having gone through the coaching? There are other reflections similar to this, but the examples are to give a basic idea in the importance of evaluation. Reflect not just on what the individual has learnt or gained but equally, how about the coach and their coaching? Evaluate against any initial goals or development needs and clearly identify the success factors that helped with the improved performance. It’s this that can be used to build further development on. We all have strengths and weaknesses but its our strengths that makes us unique, it’s our strengths that has got us where we are now and it’s our strengths that will take us to the next level.
The coaching cycle simply allows reflection on determining if coaching is the best option for development first and then helping to reflect on development, progression and successes. A team leader or manager is only as good as their team Performa. It is the team leader or manager who makes that happen.
The coaching cycle model has been developed by Alec McPhedran Chtd Fellow CIPD, Chtd Mngr CMI, MAC, MCMI as a tool for people who coach or develop others; to help understand potential areas to explore in managing coaching interventions. Alec is the managing director of Skills Channel TV, the training company for busy creative people. He specialises in one to one coaching, facilitated learning, media training and team development. For further information, contact 0121 366 87 99 or visit www.skillschannel.tv.
Copyright © Alec McPhedran 2014
A trainer, coach and facilitator helping people acheive.