I remember the first time I sat in a meeting with the Head of Departments.
I felt uncomfortable and didn’t speak a lot. I felt I had let myself down and wanted to kick myself, but the 3 questions my boss asked me after the meeting and being coached through them were priceless to me:
Discussing my answers enabled me to walk away with an action plan. My second meeting was not much better, but 2 months into the job I was making presentations on behalf of the General Manager and I was representing my boss in meetings when he was not available.
Training and coaching are with us throughout our lives. Our parents are the first trainers and coaches we know. They give us the skills (training) and through coaching help us apply these skills…from counting on our fingers to paying for our first bag sweets.
I had no idea at the time, but guiding me through my teenage years was a great example of coaching.
Although, coaching is an essential part of our personal and professional development, people are confused about its meaning, especially students and new graduates. I have been in conversations where students confused coaching with “training” and described it as: “A double edged sword, too much of it can numb creativity, limit thinking and discourage independent thought and opinion”.
The truth is that training and coaching are not the same. Training provides you with the skills; coaching helps you apply those skills and builds your confidence. In fact, to generate the best results training and coaching must work hand in hand.
When we learn a new task we go through a four-phase process or learning curve. A learner enters phase one with utmost excitement, what are they about to learn? Employees can be very excited to take on a new task and responsibility but when they realize that they have few skills to carry out that task they hit a wall. They inevitably think the task is too big for them and want to give up. Their motivation drops and they come across as someone who has lost interest in their job. This is phase 2 of the learning curve. No matter what task we take on, we will all hit this phase when we start something new.
More often than not coaching will be offered to help with difficult tasks. But if it isn’t it is an ok thing to seek coaching and help. Women particularly have a tendency not to ask for help because they find it hard in a male dominated environment, which makes moving on from phase two a bit difficult.
With no coaching this phase can last for a long time and can end up with the employee giving up, resigning…or in the worst case being sacked.
In this phase a coach can help you through the difficult time, providing you with feedback and emotional support to move to phase three. Here skills and motivation have improved and you need very little supervision to perform the task. The forth and last phase is when you can continue your task with no supervision.
Supervisors and managers, who understand this learning curve and support their staff throughout, will build a team of loyal employees unlocking their potential and getting the best out of them. In hospitality where training is an ongoing process, coaching is essential.
Becoming a professional coach has given me an edge. I did not get into coaching to practice it as a profession, but because I wanted to be able to reinforce the training I provided to my colleagues and students. I always had a genuine interest in coaching but it was only through undertaking training that I really understood the skills that a coach needs to make a long lasting impact.
From my personal experience, coaching is about being helped to achieve a goal faster. It is a shame that many people do not value coaching and I constantly educate younger colleagues and students about the importance of finding a coach…not as a result of a corporate program where you are “matched” to another colleague who has to “coach” you…. but as a personal choice by asking those people that you believe can help you.
By Assia Riccio, Founder of Evolvin’ Women
“Coaching is about being helped to achieve a goal faster.”
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