11a. Knowledge coach requires on a) the subject area brought by the coachee to coaching?
1) Alexandra – No knowledge is needed on subject area; rather, the coach needs to have knowledge about people and their behaviour, and how to promote self awareness in others. Cultural awareness will also be helpful from a marketing point of view as the client will have more trust in the coach and the process of coaching.
2) Ann – None needed if the coach is curious.
3) Rosangela suggests that the trainer needs to be an expert in the area in which they will deliver training. The coach does not require knowledge on the coachee’s subject area brought to coaching.
4) Leon – The trainer must have knowledge of the area to impart to trainees. ICA’s belief is that the knowledge a coach requires is related to the coaching process itself. A good coach can truly coach anyone in any subject that is brought to the session as the coach asks questions of the coachee. The coach does not require a depth of understanding of the subject brought by the coachee to coaching; this he states, is a ‘bit of an ideal’. In his experience this does not hold true in all situations. He feels that a coach who is ‘ versed’ in the coachee’s subject area, is able to meet the coachee where they are. In sessions with the group he referred to earlier, he stated that the coachees speak of their area of expertise. If I did not have knowledge of the area he stated, I would be lost in the discussion. They speak a certain language that is drawn from a specific base which the coach needs to understand.
The coachee feels too, he posits, that the coach is coming from an area where they fully understand the situation they bring to coaching. Another example he gave is that if he wanted a wellness coach to get his body and mind in a state of wellbeing, he would not hire a business but rather a wellness coach. When a coach and coachee come together with a shared state of understanding, it adds a dimension that the pure coaching process cannot bring to the table, and would not suffice.
5) Rob believes that the coach really doesn’t need to know about the topic or subject of coaching. Having background knowledge can speed up the process he posits; however, if the process is not understood, the coach may ask lower level questions to better understand the subject area. If I know something about the topic I can move to higher level questions quicker which will move the process faster. The process that is too slow/fast, may negatively impact the coachee who may feel frustrated and dissatisfied in not making the progress they would like. Asking basic questions may assist the coachee to understand some basic underlying beliefs. If the coach has experience in the area, it may lead to the coach making assumptions which can either give support or be at a disadvantage.
6) Jennie: The coach should be in a position to ask ‘fresh’ questions. For some niches, e.g. non-profit consultancy that needs a marketing coach, some coaches state that they can coach the persons, but cannot train them in marketing. In other areas for example, starting and owning a business, performance development can examine options that include the coach training the coachee, or sending him/her some information to bring about a shift in perspective. If we need to train the coachee we have to discuss this in another forum. Coachees’ expectations are to push the boundaries, trying to get more.
Jennie referred to Tim Gallwey in a coaching workshop, who used a role play to demonstrate:
a) at what point the client leans backward or forward?
b) How long did it take for the client to lean back?
Jennie stated that Gallwey stated that it is during the time that the client leans back that he/she gives the problem to the coach. The coach, Jennie suggested, needs to know and be sensitive to the coachee’s culture to truly discuss what they bring to the process.
11b. Knowledge coach requires on: b) other factors that may impact the coachee?
A) Alexandra – Sometimes it’s better for coaches not to know as the client needs curiosity from them.
B) Ann – The coach require knowledge on just what coachees wish to share. Perception is what is most important, not external knowledge.
C) Rosangela – It is the coach’s responsibility to help the coachee to understand the process clearly. She referred to one of her previous managers who ‘had a big ego’. He was a powerful person and stated that he would like her to become an expert…which required that she must listen to him, to which she responded that she didn’t have to. Rosangela highlighted the importance for the coach to work with the coachee by using a different approach. She feels that there will be barriers to both coaching and training if everything is not clear in the beginning. Clarity gives the ability to move forward.
D) Leon – The coach can gain knowledge of these other factors that may impact coachee through conversation with the coachee.
E) Rob – This may relate to a coach thinking that they know the client’s situation especially cultural differences which are always present in the corporation and in communities.
F) Jennie – The coachee requires a lot from the coach; the onus is on the coach to manage such situations. Many persons do not want to be a life-long learner, so they do not own training. The coaching process to be effective, requires the coachee to own it. Coaches do not necessarily know anything about the coachee; however, when trust and the relationship develops, the process is owned and both must show up and be authentic.
12. ‘Coaching as a follow-up to training helps increase the transfer of training on the job’. What is your opinion?
- Alexandra – I agree completely. When we coach someone around the knowledge acquired through training, they will be able to identify how to use it. A training session could be hurried or a participant may not have asked questions/or seek clarification within the group. Coaching helps the client to get more awareness around the knowledge which becomes more meaningful for them.
- Ann – Yes, it does.
- Rosangela – Generally it could help; however risks include: i) the coachee could become dependent, and/or ii) hide self in the content. Here, the responsibility is placed on the coach to reinvent the wheel. For example, when coaching executives, if one adheres to the ICF competencies, the coach would not teach the client any content. Rather, the coach, as the relationship progresses, will see the skills that the coachee practices.
- Leon – How true is true. Yes. If organizations are truly serious about changing behaviour and shifting patterns of behaviour within their teams and organizations, you have to follow up on training. Follow-up does not have to be coaching; it could be further facilitation, or other group efforts to increase transfer of training knowledge and skills.
Discussion of Findings
When training is sought, there is normally a gap in knowledge, skill or attitude (or ability). Training immediately addresses gaps in skill and knowledge but very rarely addresses gaps in attitude about a certain skill. Training will always focus on the task, skill or job to be learned. Coaching takes a step beyond this, and becomes a powerful compliment to training (Rogers, 2009).
This discussion will be presented as ‘areas respondents agree or disagree on’ with quotes from literature to support either view. One person did not respond to questions 5, 6, and 6a.
Question 5. Define Training Facilitation
Areas they agree on:
Five respondents (83.3%) in defining training facilitation, agreed that the trainer is an expert within whom the knowledge and skills reside. One agreed with the definition of training, but viewed training as different from facilitation, stating that the facilitator is the holder of a process which moves a group towards a collective outcome.
Question 6: What is group coaching?
Areas they agree on:
Five respondents (83.3%) agreed that group coaching is similar to training in that the coach is coaching between 3 or more persons as a group. The expertise in group coaching resides in all persons in the group and a collective outcome is desired.
Question 6a and b: How is group coaching similar to/different from training?
Areas they agree on
Three respondents (60%) agreed that training is similar to group coaching. In both situations the trainer and coach are working with a group, and both training and coaching are opportunities for learning. Both require everyone to be open to learn new ideas, to improve their skills, and to reflect on their own performance.
Areas they disagree on:
Two respondents (40 %) felt that group coaching is different from training. Unlike training, in which the trainer is holder of the knowledge or expertise, the coachee is the expert. Rogers (2009) identifies this difference by stating that, “Training” essentially means teaching a person a particular skill or type of behaviour through regular practice and instruction, [while] “Coaching” is an interactive structured conversation between the Coach and Learner, whereby the Coach empowers the Learner to seek/discover their own answers. He also posited that a learner that is involved in his/her own learning, not only supports self education, but is empowered to retain what they have learnt, as well as benefit from a positive change in attitude (Rogers, 2009).
Table 3 below, compares the 3 concepts of group coaching, facilitation, and training. This supports the feedback from respondents as well as bring more clarity to the discussion.
Table 3: Comparison of Group Coaching, Facilitation and Training
Question 7: Has there been a difference in your design, facilitation/delivery of training since practicing as a coach?
Areas they agree on
Sixty-six point seven percent (66.7%) of respondents stated that there are differences which range from: changing the style they used as a trainer, moving from using the telling/expert role to involving trainees in finding the ‘right answers’ for themselves, being better able to develop people while engendering a greater capacity for empathy, and wanting the same for the group towards each other. Some respondents expect more changes, and are ready to challenge their mindset. More attention is now being placed on the trainees for example, more listening and dialogue, better developed skills in observing their body language, and being able to mirror those observations to trainees, while promoting more accountability and collaboration within the group.
Coaching is viewed as a particularly powerful tool in the modern workplace; one that has proven to be highly effective in developing individual and organisational performance by unlocking people’s capability. One person is new to coaching and is ‘waiting to see what will be different’.
Question 8: How has training and coaching complemented each other?
Areas they agree on
All 6 respondents (100%) agree that training and coaching complement each other. Of major importance is the fact that, a trainee can be coached ‘back and forth’ while in training, as opposed to a coach who is ethically bound to seek the client’s permission to introduce training in the coaching relationship. It is suggested that coaching can help to satisfy the client’s needs while providing a safe space to share in an individual way, and that use of the coaching approach in training helps the trainer to listen more and use powerful questions. It is helpful therefore, that both training and coaching be combined to satisfy identified needs, as well as increase learning. Rogers (2009) stated that training will always focus on the task, skill or job to be learned, [while] coaching takes a step beyond this, and becomes a powerful compliment to training. He also mentioned that [r]esearch has shown that the retention rate as a result of training lies at about 20%… [and] if followed by coaching, the retention rate increases dramatically to over 80% (Rogers, 2009).
Question 9: What are some situations in which coaching can substitute for training and vice versa
Areas they agree on
Three of 6 (50%) respondents agree that training and coaching can substitute for each other. They feel that training is the first option when someone needs to improve their knowledge and skills, or when some new subject should be shared with the group. New content should be discussed with peers who will learn from each other in a safe space. It has been suggested that when leaders have been selected to attend training programmes with not much new content, that coaching instead of training should be considered. Reference was made to Mintzberg (2004) whose approach to management education encouraged practicing managers to learn from their own experiences. He suggested that a manager cannot be created in a classroom (management is a practice); rather, existing managers can significantly improve their practice in a thoughtful classroom that makes use of that experience (Mintzberg, 2004). It is in such a context, that substitution of training by coaching or the use of both to complement each other will best help the trainee or the coachee.
Areas they disagreed on
The remaining 3 persons (50%) feel that coaching and training can be complementary, but cannot substitute for each other. The switch from training to coaching is felt to be easier than from coaching to training, as boundaries exist for coaches who have to seek the client’s permission in order to make the switch. Coaches are ethically bound to the contract and should receive the coachee’s permission before stepping out of that role. On the other hand, having identified the training needs, the trainer/expert can bring to the training, any tool, strategy or technique that they feel will be useful to the trainee and the organization as a whole. The view was also expressed that both are diametrically opposite in their approaches: the trainer being the holder of the information, and the coachee the holder of the knowledge of the subject brought to coaching.
Question 10: What are some situations that would give rise to a shift from training facilitation to coaching in a group or team setting
Areas they agree on.
Two persons did not respond. Three or 75% of respondents believe that team coaching is different from group coaching. The team is a unique group which is coached as one person. This approach is used when coaches need to create awareness around the team at any point at which they are, to gain more knowledge as potential clients, and/or to establish clear goals for the future. This view is supported by Dolny (2009) who stated that the right coaching interventions can build skills in individuals so that they can become effective team players in a variety of work situations (back cover). Group coaching can be done in a group of between 3 and 10 individuals, who not only want to be coached but who may also be sharing the cost. Coaching is a good tool for building trust, improving relationships, and for dialogue. Respondents feel that if the same criteria is applied to groups/teams as is done for individuals, then coaching rather than training is necessary. It is important in group coaching for the coach to know when a shift is necessary. Here, an individual may need to be separated from the group for individual coaching and then return to contribute to the collective goals of the group.
Areas they disagree on
There were no real areas of disagreement. One person (25%) feels that as a trainer, if the following situations exist, they may require the use of coaching: a) if trainees are asked to explore a topic and are not successful in creating a strategy that would meet their needs, require more information, if they are experiencing difficulty in defining their goals, or not fully committed or motivated, then coaching would be used.