Readiness of the Coachee and Supervisor

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Very often coaches find that the initiation of the Coaching assignment is not a consultative process with coachees or their supervisors. In many cases coachees and supervisors are consulted but do not have a sufficient debrief about the engagement or process. This in turn, results in misconceptions and wrong expectations from the assignment, setting it up for possible hiccups from the start.

Some of the common misconceptions are:
a) Supervisors think that coaching and mentoring are the same and expect both behavioural and functional inputs from the coach….
b) Supervisors think that coaching is a panacea for all evils in the coachee….this is further enhanced by the fact that coaching is a one- to – one intervention and more expensive than other group interventions….
c) Coachees think that this is a ‘correctional intervention’ and that something is deeply wrong with them
d) Coachees feels that coaches have access to their bosses and the HR departments and therefore can help them get the promotion they so want….

A good way to get these issues out of the way is to engage with all stake holders – HR departments, sponsors and supervisors as well as coachees on these aspects prior to the start of the engagement. I find it useful to make a presentation on “Introduction to Coaching” to all 3 involved, separately, in our first meetings. These discussions, around the presentations, help clarify what coaching will achieve and what it will not! It also describes the process and the support, we as coaches need from these stakeholders in getting the best out of the engagement.

I also make sure to position coaching as a Leadership competency improvement mechanism– this way, it gets understood easier and through the engagement or at the closure there are less loose ends to tie up. Supervisors then have a fairly good idea of what changes to expect and do not look for the moon at the end of the engagement. Similarly coachees know what areas they are going to get into, so also the HR department who have to manage the interfaces and the outcomes!

Another aspect that I find helpful at the start is asking coachees about their expectations from the engagement. It gets them to think about what areas they are willing and able to explore during the course of the engagement – and also kick-starts the process of conscious self-awareness and sharing with the coach. This paves the way for inculcating trust and the process of exploration. It also helps clear any doubts that might be there in the coachee’s mind about the engagement or process and their outcomes.

Readiness of the coachee, supervisor and HR department are critical to the success of the coaching engagement. Coaches can help this process by clarifying upfront, the contours of coaching as a science and practice. In addition eliciting the coachee’s expectations can help the process of building chemistry and orientation, besides clearing any misconceptions.

– Kannan Dasaratharamam

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