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Overcomplicating coaching hinders its effectiveness

It seems like a simple thing to say, work place learning must be about creating individual, team and organisation wide behaviours that enable that organisation to follow an agreed strategy which will result in the achievement of objectives.

Why then have learning professionals over complicated this activity to the point that switches off many of the people that they must engage with if they are to fulfil their own objectives of equipping people to contribute to that process?

Work Place learning has indeed been blessed with some very well researched training initiatives, but at the end of the day the basis of all learning is a conversation between two people or between one person and a group of people.

These conversations are essentially coaching, a process that has in recent years become a profession apart from learning and development and something that is far more complex than a straight-forward conversation.

So, what Paul Furey describes as being the bread-and-butter of training has become such a complex tool that the people who need to buy into it, employees of all kinds, are switching off.

Managers, claims Furey are not seeing coaching as something that is good for them, and if it’s not good for them then it certainly isn’t good for their teams either.

Yet, I would suggest, the basis of management is essentially coaching.

Learning and Development professionals should, says Furey start to think about how they can de-clutter coaching and create something that is much easier for managers and employees to understand, and engage with.

There is he says a real need for professional coaches to understand the detail of psychology and how coaching works, but this does not mean that every manager needs the same level of competency to get a higher level of performance out of their employees.

When you examine coaching, it does says, Furey need process, intellectual discipline and practice, but the coaching industry has over complicated these to the point where the desire to create professional status is hindering the adoption of the concept and recognition of the value that can be created is not being seen by the people we hope to inspire.

Perhaps part of the challenge is that we are asking managers who have spent most of their education and their careers in cultures that were about command and control, which does not make much use of coaching techniques.

Education has already changed. Whereas many of today’s managers will have experienced a remember and repeat form of education that was very much led and controlled by the adult at the front of the room todays school pupils are doing more independent learning and seeing teachers as people who assist them.

This means that a different type of person is now joining the work force. They are not used to the old command and control approach. They expect to be told what the objective is and then supported as they identify the best way to fulfil that objective.

These millennials are unlikely to respond well to the old styles of management, they expect to be coached, but the evidence described by Furey suggests that this is unlikely to happen until the coaching industry and trainers find a way to make it more easily understood by managers and employees alike.

Paul Furey will be speaking at the London HR Summit on 26th September 2018.

During a career as a human resources and employee development professional that started in 1981 Michael Millward has worked around the world in a wide range of businesses from start-ups to major conglomerates. His industry experience includes, local and national government, manufacturing, financial services, retail, distribution, hi-tech, e-commerce.

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