Cover Image
close this bookDesigning Human Settlements Training in African Countries - Volume 2: Trainer's Tool Kit (HABITAT, 1994, 182 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe lecture
View the documentVisual aids
View the documentQuestion and answer
View the documentDiscussion
View the documentDemonstration
View the documentSimulation
View the documentThe case method
View the documentCritical incidents
View the documentRole-playing
View the documentInstrumentation
View the documentBrainstorming
View the documentNominal group technique (NGT)
View the documentForce field analysis
View the documentAction planning
View the documentOther learning transfer strategies
View the documentPerformance analysis & needs assessment
View the documentTraining impact evaluation
View the documentTraining the staff to train
View the documentCoaching
View the documentTeam development
View the documentRole negotiation
View the documentIntergroup conflict intervention
View the documentOrganizational goal setting
View the documentA closing note

Coaching

Learning Emphasis




Organization Focus




The wise woman has long ears, big eyes, and a short tongue.

- Russian Proverb

Coaching is a form of on-the-job-training generally considered to be one of the supervisor’s most important responsibilities for stimulating the growth and development of subordinates. Coaching is a simple method for solving problems, improving individual performance and reducing the stress associated with transitions from operational or technical positions into management. One authority on coaching, Ferdinand Fournies, describes coaching as a face-to-face process, the primary purpose of which is “to redirect a subordinate’s behaviour to solve a performance problem.” The idea, according to Fournies, is to get subordinates to stop doing things they should not be doing and to start doing things they should be doing. (Fournies, 1978).

Coaching is often used by a supervisor or senior employee who is working alongside a novice employee. In the role of coach, the supervisor or senior employee observes as the novice performs a task, like tapping a water line, handling an irate customer or leading an in-house training session. After the task is completed, the two review what happened. The coach helps the novice identify strong and weak areas of performance and proposes ways to do the task more quickly, efficiently or sensitively as the case may be. Together, they plan changes in task performance for the novice to try out next time.

Coaching may be initiated by a supervisor, but an employee may be the initiator. This usually happens when the employee has a high degree of self-confidence and a strong desire for improved performance. More often, however, coaching is the result of a supervisor or in-house trainer becoming aware of a gap in performance and initiating coaching with the employee or employees concerned as a first step in closing the gap.

A common form of coaching, the one most closely related to OJT (on-the-job-training), is in the area of “problem-solving.” In its most intensive form, the coach as problem-solver might lead or “coach” a subordinate through the stages in solving a problem (i.e., identify the problem, discuss alternative solutions, agree mutually on the action to be taken, and follow up to confirm the problem has been solved). Expanded a bit into a six-step process, coaching might proceed along these lines:

1. Initiation by the supervisor or an employee based on the awareness of a performance problem.

2. Mutual understanding of the problem to be addressed during the coaching process.

3. Agreement on what changes are needed (e.g., input, skill development, a change of attitude) to resolve the problem or improve the employee’s competency.

4. Demonstration by the coach, when possible, of what the employee is expected to do, repetition by the employee, and constructive feedback on the result by the coach.

5. Mutual agreement on how progress will be monitored.

6. Confirmation (days or weeks later) that the agreed changes have taken place and a decision about any additional steps to be taken.

COACHING AS LEARNING REINFORCEMENT

Another way coaching can be employed by supervisors is to support and encourage subordinates who want to try out on the job something new they have learned about in a training programme. Training is used by organizations to develop their people - to improve the way they perform their duties so as to ensure the organization’s vitality. Supervisors are responsible for the development of the people under their supervision. As coaches, they are in a position to pave the way for new ideas from training into the everyday work practices of an organization.

On the other hand, supervisors are capable of retarding the development of their employees and sapping the vitality of their organizations. As obstructionists, they can halt the introduction of new ideas by doing nothing to encourage them or by actually discouraging employees who come up with new ideas: “That’s all very interesting, William, but we seem to be getting along well enough around here without doing something like that.”

Employees who return to the organization after being trained find themselves at a crossroads. They can incorporate what they have been trained to do into their daily work routines. Or they can ignore what they have learned and continue functioning as if they had never been trained at all. Which road the employees take depends in large measure on their supervisors. With regular coaching, the probability is high that what is learned by an organization’s employees in training programmes will make its way into the organization’s work practices. Without it, little change can be expected to take place.

SUMMARY

Coaching is a method long used by supervisors to help their employees overcome performance problems and make the most of new methods and work practices. A valuable but often neglected use of coaching is to help employees who have participated in training to think about and plan the use of newly acquired skills to improve their work performance. Whether or not employees make use of the work improvement methods and techniques they have learned about depends, more than anything else, on the attitudes and behaviours of their supervisors. Supervisors who use coaching to show their receptivity to new ideas and their interest and encouragement for on-the-job application of these ideas can be a primary stimulus for change and improvement in work practices. Supervisors, on the other hand, who resist change and discourage their employees from experimenting with new ideas, not only sap the vitality of the employees, but play a part in retarding the growth and success of the whole organization.

Notes

Fournies, Ferdinand F., Coaching for Improved Work Performance (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, Inc., 1978).

A. Coaching Checklist

Opportunities for improved work performance through coaching can be found everyday in the workplace. Poor performance can be the result of many factors. New employees may not have sufficient knowledge or skill for their duties. Old employees may not be current on new methods or technologies. There may be relationship or motivational problems within or between work groups. And there may be lost opportunities to make changes for the better in existing work practices and procedures. The initiative for correcting problems in work performance lies with the supervisors concerned, based on information from direct observation, formal needs assessment results, or from employees who are seeking help.

The following checklist has been prepared as a coaching guide for supervisors. In one way or another, each of the six steps described should be undertaken by the supervisor as coach before the coaching session is considered complete. Space is provided under each of the steps for the coach to enter comments, notes on the session, or other information about the coaching session or the employee being coached.

1. Scheduling the coaching session

A problem has been observed or reported related to the work performance of ______________________. (name of employee) The problem is:

Describe the problem ______________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
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A coaching session has been scheduled with the individual responsible for the problem.

Date __________________________ Time _____________________________

2. The coaching session

Both parties are present. The problem is described. Question: To what extent is it agreed that this is a problem? What changes in the problem definition, if any, are necessary?

Redefinition of the problem: _________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
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Question: What changes in performance are needed (for example, work output, skill development, a change of attitude) to resolve the problem?

Describe the changes and enter comments:_____________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

The desired performance (check one) can/cannot be demonstrated in some way. If performance is demonstrated, the employee is asked to repeat the performance. Feedback is given on the performance and the process is repeated until both parties are satisfied.

Describe the demonstration. If the desired performance cannot be demonstrated, describe the method used to improve performance.

________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
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Question: What follow-up is planned to check progress? Was a mutual decision made on how progress will be monitored and follow-up dates set?

Describe the method agreed upon for monitoring progress? _______________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
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Follow up date(s) _________________________ Time ____________________

3. The follow-up

Question: What performance changes were agreed-to during the coaching session? What else needs to be done?

Description of any follow-up activities __________________________________
________________________________________________________________
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