The Increasing Popularity Of Coaching In The Workplace

6 min read

Why famous people recommend coaching

From Bill Gates to Eric Schmidt, leaders you’d think would already have it all recommend coaching. The video summarizes their statements. Eric Schmidt decided to dedicate a book to it. He also talks about a few benefits from his point of view it in his interview with Tim Ferris.

Great CEO’s know they can get even better, as Eric Schmidt described. That’s because they take on a role no one else has in your circles: they are unbiased, only interested in helping you achieve your agenda, they have an outside perspective, and they have your permission to ask tough questions that help you grow. Who else is contending for your agenda without having his or her own?

So, if these big shots have coaches, should you get one? Hold your horses. Let me give you a rundown of what coaching is and is not and what to expect.

What is Coaching In The Workplace?

A Brief History Of Modern Coaching

In the modern coaching world of the recent 40+ years, the “traditional coaching client” has been the executive. You may have also heard of a few celebrities working with coaches.

What used to be accessible and affordable only to an elite group has become mainstream as more coaches have entered the market for non-executive coaching in other niche markets. The push for quality through organizations like the International Coach Federation (ICF), who certifies coaches that follow their rigorous standards further drives the increased trust in the coaching process.

But what exactly is coaching in the workplace?

What Coaching In The Workplace Is Not

Don’t mistake coaching in the workplace for consulting, mentoring or career counseling. These disciplines are very different in focus and result.

Coaching is not counseling. Counseling or therapy focuses on pathology. The underlying assumption is that there is a problem with the client that needs to be fixed and the counselor or therapist does the fixing. Coaching, in contrast, considers the client healthy and capable and focuses on forward-movement. This shifts the focus from historic analysis and healing to awareness and growth. Counseling focuses predominantly on the past, coaching focuses on the future.

Coaching is not consulting. Consulting puts the consultant front and center. The consultant is the expert who provides solutions or prescribes solutions. The underlying assumption here is that the consultant knows more than the client and thus is superior. The focus in consulting is on the object, not the person. Coaching puts the client at the center. A coach partners with the client to achieve the client’s goals and assumes the client smart and capable to derive actions her-/himself from the things discovered during a coaching session.

Coaching is not teaching. Teaching puts the teacher at the top and creates unilateral communication. The teacher emits information and the student receives it. While there are “teachable moments” in coaching or adjacent services offered by a coach that include teaching, coaching itself facilitates learning through coaching competencies such as creating awareness, powerful questioning, and other tools.

Coaching is not mentoring. Mentors meet with mentees on an informal basis and usually without a broad focus on personal development. Coaching, in contrast, focuses on specific goals and follows a structured process with measurable results. Mentoring is often indefinite while coaching is set for a limited time frame.

Types of Coaching in the Workplace

Life Coaching

All coaching is life coaching in its foundation. The competencies taught in professional coach training prepare coaches with fundamental coaching skills such as active listening, powerful questioning, creating awareness, just to name a few.

Many coaches break into niches to address the particular needs of their target groups. The most frequently named specializations are outlined below, but many more exist in an ever-growing profession.

Executive Coaching

Executives spend the majority of their workdays making decisions of significant impact, providing answers and processing information from inside and outside of the organization. Executives are expected to have answers and this expectation can limit exploration and growth.

Most often, the executive and the coach establish the connection. The request for a coach is also frequently initiated by employers as the paying party, adding a level of complexity in serving two different stakeholders (contractor and service recipient). The overall goal is performance improvement and leadership development, with the client (the executive) defining more specific goals in the personal development plan with her or his coach.

The coach serves as a sounding board, helps with decision-making, and uses the coaching process and various methodologies to bring awareness and clarity and supports the client in creating action plans that achieve the executive’s goals in her/his organization.

Business Coaching

Business coaching also focuses on helping business leaders reach their goals. It focuses more specifically on the leader’s goals to grow a business. This is often more hands-on, with adjacent services focused on establishing or growing a business, but can also include elements of the executive niche. Leadership development is often an integral part of the agreement.

Career Coaching

Career coaching focuses on employed professionals or those seeking employment or transition in their careers. Adjacent services often include resume writing, interview training, and other job-search or hiring-related services.

This also includes mapping out a career path or creating a career development plan, working on personal growth, job satisfaction, dealing with challenging situations at work, as well as long-term performance improvement topics.

Other Niches

A growing list of other coaching specializations exists for other areas, including coaching in health and fitness, relationships, ministry, parenting, and in sub-categories within the above coaching areas. For example, a Career Coach may specialize in a certain industry or focus on a specific career level.

What Happens In A Coaching Session?

ICF-aligned coaches follow a proven process, but they tailor each session to your individual needs and the flow of the conversation. A coach holds your agenda and makes sure that you stay on track during your call or meeting to achieve the objective you define for each call. A coach usually asks you upfront which particular topic you would like to tackle or sends you a brief preparation form.

What Makes Coaching So Powerful

Have you ever attended a valuable seminar or watched a great speech and thought it was life changing just to find yourself unchanged at the end of the year? You’re not alone. Several factors cause this common dilemma. For example:

  • You didn’t specify the goals that you needed to do to accomplish your desired change.
  • You had no one helping you sort out hidden obstacles, things you were unaware were hindering your progress.
  • You didn’t dedicate time or gave up after a few months of not seeing enough change or after a setback.

The International Coach Federation, the world’s largest authority in this industry, conducted a global consumer study with clients. The chart shows the impact clients reported.

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ICF Consumer Study — What’s the impact of coaching in the workplace and in the life of a coachee?

How To Find Your Ideal Coach

There are a lot of directories listing coaches, and I am listing the ones that seem most well organized and list coaches for many specializations. The ICF lists credentialed coachesPCCI lists Professional Christian Coaches in all focus areas and platforms such as, Noomii, or LinkedIn ProFinder also help you find a coach.

Before you contact a coach, ask yourself a few questions to prepare:

  • What are you looking to get help for or grow in (generally speaking)?
  • What big objective do you want to accomplish?
  • How much time can you commit to being coached and working on your goals between sessions?
  • How serious are you about your goals?

A good coach will offer you a free consultation, often called a discovery call or inquiry call. This is a great opportunity for you to find out if you have chemistry. Let the coach reflect back to you that s/he understands your goals and needs.