The Benefits of Coaching in the Business World –  BIZ WEEK Bangkok Business

Ian Claffey is an accredited Executive Coach and Facilitator; his international experience has been gained working in London, Zurich, Tokyo, Singapore, Thailand, South Africa and Nigeria. He is accredited by The Association for Coaching and The Association for Professional Coaches / Supervision (APECS). He started his professional career in Harley Street, London where he worked as a psychotherapist before becoming a professional coach.

Ian outlines the benefits of coaching, the areas where it can add value, and what we should look for when choosing a coach.  

What is coaching?

The objective of coaching is to unlock hidden potential and maximise performance. It takes the shape exploring by doing, rather than learning by teaching. It assists with developing a ‘solution focused’ way of thinking; and it also helps with improving listening skills and empathic understanding. The role of coach is to ask incisive questions, which will allow the client to see each situation from a different viewpoint and possibly highlight any ‘blind spots’.

The coach is not there to tell someone what to do; instead they are there to create space for the client to think about situations from different angles. Some of the additional areas where coaching can help include: gaining greater clarity about business and career goals, improving decision making ability, mastering your time-management skills, maintaining focus on your top priorities, reaching the source of problems quickly, learning how to focus on the solution – not dwelling on the problem, getting the balance between your business and personal life right, defining you short and long-term goals, and ensuring they are what you really want, along with boosting your confidence, self-esteem, interpersonal and communication skills.”

Executive and Leadership Coaching

“Executive and Leadership Coaching is a confidential service for senior level staff, including Directors, MDs and CEOs. Here the coach provides an individualised service, which is completely impartial, practical, and it offers the client the opportunity to focus on their key concerns within the context of the organisations’ strategies and vision.

Executive coaching, at the initial stage, will involve the executive, his or her coach, and the organisation representative who might be the HR Director or Line Manager.  The ‘scope out’ meeting will give all three a chance to explore the interests of the organisation.  A similar outline follows for most coaching contracts, the strategy will be agreed by setting goals (or the desired outcomes from the coaching assignment), deciding on benchmarks or milestones (the points along the way which show that coaching is heading in the right direction), and finally the outcomes (the final stage where the success of the coaching programme can be measured).

Executive coaching is an individualised leader development process, which allows the executive to plan both short- and long-term organisational goals. It is conducted through one-on-one sessions, the relationship between the executive and the coach and based on mutual trust and respect; confidentiality is of key importance and is assured, as the coach has no other involvement within the organisation.

Performance Coaching

Performance Coaching is becoming the programme purchase of choice for many organisations.  Many coaching clients will seek coaching for performance enhancement rather than the rectification of a performance issue. Coaching is shown to be an excellent investment for improving individual performance within specific areas.  I can offer an example of this.  Several years ago I was running coaching programme for an international oil company. I was asked to work with a senior drilling engineer who had been promoted, along with the promotion came the responsibility for managing 200 staff.  I worked alongside the engineer for 6 months in order to help him develop his team management capabilities, delegation strategies, interpersonal and communications skills.  It was worth considering that he has 5 years training as an engineer, but no training on how to manage people, far less 200 staff.  Performance coaching will combine a selection of approaches from business and psychology as well as best practice from management approaches.

The Cross-Culture Coaching

In today’s global market place, problems can arise if international organisations develop behaviour strategies locally and then try to implement them globally. It might be easy to fall into the trap of thinking as we are all using the same software packages that we are all thinking along the same lines.

Cross-cultural coaching not only assists with international cultures, it also allows us to explore and understand the differences between organisational cultures, regional cultures and merging cultures.

I facilitated an event in Zurich this year for a private wealth management bank, and what was interesting was that out of the 10 attendees none of them were Swiss. This brought home to me how much we need to consider the implications of doing business internationally. When working with clients on issues of culture I will quickly reassure them that the objective of coaching is not to ask them to lose any aspect of their own culture, more to consider the question, ‘how is business done within the country I am communicating with?’

For example, assertiveness coaching in Thailand would be at the opposite extreme from assertiveness coaching in South Africa; however the desired outcome is the same. The way both countries go about being assertive might shock the other!  Another example might be the way people communicate in reports or by email.  People from Switzerland or Germany would normally offer a more formal style, on the other hand people from the UK, Australia and the USA may tend to use toned down way of communicating. So we can see here that it is not as simple as geographical consideration, perhaps more to do with behavioural clusters.

Recently I was asked to put together a cross-cultural programme for an organisation with international offices.  The remit is straightforward; it is to develop and deliver a best practice model for communicating across the business globally, including roles and responsibilities, project management capabilities, email communications, conference call interactions, delivering clear messages, dealing with conflict, and managing difficult people. It gets more interesting when the programme needs to cover Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.

First 90 Day Career Coaching

Interestingly when a new leader is voted into power, for example an American President, they are normally given the first 100 days grace in the job before big changes are expected from them. When a new employee arrives at the office on their first day they are expected to know everything, pretty much.  First 90 day coaching can be a real asset for the new person who needs to create an action plan for the first three crucial months with the new company.  They will often have to work out who they need to meet and network with along with thinking about getting the job into shape – all of this before you find out who they can rely on. First 90 day coaching can help you to adapt to a new industry which can often be different from your previous experiences. It can also help you to integrate with your new team and quickly understand their interpersonal styles, allow you to stretch yourself within your new role by creating targets, timeframes and action plans. Finally, it offers a confidential space for you to address any concerns about your new position.  No matter how senior the executive, from my own experience of coaching across many levels and sectors, everyone I have coached has had his or her own concerns about making a good first impression and getting things right at the start.

Checking Credentials

Some Coaching providers favour an internal accreditation process, however for more robust accreditation; I believe that validation by a professional body is better placed to serve everyone. Accreditation with an independent association will demand the right level of training, qualifications, insurance, depth of experience and psychological expertise.

For those looking to secure Coaching services, some helpful questions might include: what training, qualifications and experience do you have, are you accredited, if so, is it by an external association?  Where can I verify your accreditation; a website for example, can you direct me to it?  Do you have professional liability insurance?  Do you undergo regular professional supervision?  If the answer is YES to all of the above questions, then it should be safe to move the discussion forward.

Perhaps the next questions to consider could include: how many sessions are we looking at?  How should feedback work?  How does client confidentiality work?  How can we measure the success of programmes?

Checking accreditation is straightforward. It can be done online through reputable associations.  An accredited Coach will have his or her name on the Accredited Coach section of the website, it’s that simple!

The Association for Coaching: is one such organisation. It has a formal complaints procedure in place, which is just one of the benefits of using an accredited Coach. Another organisation accrediting coaches is; The Association for Professional Coaches / Supervision (APECS):  Accreditation by (APECS) requires five-years minimum coaching experience at executive level, as well as professional psychological training.

Ian is a part of the Association for Coaching accreditation assessment team; he is also expanding the Association for Coaching – Southeast Asia.