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There is a clear trend of moving towards coaching as a learning and development method among entrepreneurs, executives or professionals alike. More and more companies are looking to internalize a “coaching culture”, or to adopt a “coaching methodology”. A closer inspection to this customized, focused, one on one method reveals many considerable advantages.
Coaching provides a safe learning space
One of the primary reasons why employees don’t seek guidance is the fear of being judged or being seen as incompetent. However, the very concept of coaching is built on the importance of continuous learning: regardless of your career and expertise level, there is always room for improvement, acquiring alternative methods, seeking a deeper understanding, and gaining new skills. Within the context of coaching, the employee gets the chance to seek clarification and hone his/her skills in a safe, non-judgmental environment, with the help of a coach who encourages inquisitive thinking.
Coaching teaches you how to think
“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon” (E.M. Forster)
One of the notable differences between coaching and the traditional classroom approach is that the former allows the coachee to identify problems and think about them critically. The coach often answers the coachee’s question with other questions that will guide his/her thinking towards formulating the right solution. Instead of being limited to answering individual questions with specific answers, coaching enhances analytical thinking skills and encourages “thinking about thinking”.
Coaching enhances self confidence
Low confidence stems from lack of knowledge, past failures, destructive criticism, in addition to feeling unprepared to perform the required task. Gaining knowledge, though necessary, will not remove the feeling of anxiety. It needs to be coupled with hands-on application under the guidance of an expert who can give directions and clarifications along the way. The coach usually plays this facilitating role. Coaching also relies heavily on positive feedback and encouragement rather than punitive measures or pressure: this reinforces the desired behaviors for the coachee and increases future successes.
Coaching creates accountability
The follow-up performed during the coaching process creates a sense of accountability which is necessary for continuous and effective learning. By performing frequent check-ins and follow-ups, the coach makes sure that the coachee is on the right track, persevering in spite of the temptation to give up after failed attempts. The coach will follow up on the assignments that are given in between sessions, the obstacles that were faced, the progress that was made, in addition to ensuring the overall advancement towards the set objectives. The coach therefore inspires the coachee to keep going by reminding them of the importance of their efforts and the contribution to other goals.
Coaching enhances performance…fast.
Working closely and consistently with an expert allows the identification of areas needing improvement in an accurate way. More so, it allows directing efforts efficiently towards bridging those gaps. This specific, customized and targeted approach which is implemented in the coaching process leads to significant improvements in a short period of time because it is tailored to the exact needs and capabilities of the employee. The result is a palpable improvement in the bottom line performance of the coachee who doesn’t have to waste time tackling the wrong problem or going through unhelpful resources.