Question 11: What knowledge does a coach require on: a) the subject area brought by the coachee to coaching?
Areas they agree on
Four of 6 (66.7%) respondents believe that the coach does not need to have knowledge of the subject area brought by the coachee to coaching. One suggested that the coach’s knowledge of people and their behaviour, how to promote self awareness in others, and cultural awareness (helpful from a marketing standpoint), will build trust and promote self-awareness in the coachee. It is also felt that a curious coach needs nothing more than their curiosity. Lack of understanding of the process may lead the coach to ask lower level questions which may assist the coachee to understand some basic underlying beliefs which could move them forward.
The following comments were made on LinkedIn, in response to a question (poll) asked by P. Roger:
Do coaches need to be subject matter experts in areas in which they coach?
Although the poll results are no longer available, the comments in response to his question support responses of some persons interviewed for this research. According to Khoury, (2013), Being a coach means unlocking the answers within your clients and not being an expert on every matter. A good coach can ask questions, make suggestions, work together with the client to develop a plan, and further empower themselves to be successful, organised, and ready to improve their situation (Khoury, 2013). Kinder, (2012) thinks that understanding the landscape, challenges, and even the language of the client’s industry or area, is helpful in establishing rapport and credibility. She also felt that being a subject matter expert could make one less effective as a coach, as there is a tendency for the coach to come with pre-conceived ideas about “how things are done” (Kinder, J., 2013).
Areas they disagree on
Thirty-three point three percent (33.3 %) of the respondents feel that the coach needs to have knowledge of the subject area that the coachee brings to the table. Coaching of business executives, was singled out as an important area for the coach to understand or in which to be competent. It was highlighted that the International Coach Academy (ICA) supports the belief that:
a) the coach does not require a depth of understanding of the subject brought by the coachee to coaching;
b) the knowledge a coach requires relates to the coaching process, and that a good coach can truly coach anyone in any subject that is brought to the table through asking powerful questions of the coachee. It is felt that this is ideal and does not in the respondent’s experience, hold true in all situations.
There is the opinion that a coach who is versed in the area brought by the coachee, is able to meet him/her where they are; if not, the coach could be lost in the discussion. Depending on the subject, coachees may speak a specific ‘language’ or draw from a specific base which the coach needs to understand. Coachees, more often than not, the respondent opined, feel that the coach fully understands their situation. An example was given that a wellness coach rather than a business coach would be hired to get the body and mind to a state of wellbeing. Others posited that while having background knowledge can speed up the process, the coach may make assumptions which could either support or be an inhibitor to the coach/coachee relationship. Generally, it is the belief that when a coach and a client have a shared state of understanding, it adds a dimension that the pure coaching process cannot bring to the table.
To support this discussion, comments were taken also from the LinkedIn site. Cronin, (2012) Director at New York State Office of Victim Services, does not agree that the coach must have knowledge of the area. She has found, that being a lawyer herself, attracts lawyer clients to her because she speaks their ‘language’. Being experts in the subject matter sometimes helps in attracting clients. This was corroborated by a client who told her that she would not have hired her if she was not a lawyer as well as a coach. Dr. Rausch, (2012) feels that if the coach is not an expert, he doesn’t think he/she has the privilege to coach someone else in the subject area. He alludes to coachees seeking guidance, coaching, learning and understanding, and questions how can a coach instill the above requirements about which they have no higher understanding themselves? (Cronin, E. and Rausch, B. Dr. 2012).
Question 11: What knowledge does a coach require on: b) other factors that may impact the coachee?
Areas they agree on
One hundred percent (100%) of respondents believe that they do not require knowledge on other factors that may impact the coachee. Coaches wish to preserve curiosity which is needed by the client. What is important they suggest, is a clear explanation to the coachee about the coaching process. The coach will gain knowledge of other factors that impact coachee through conversations with them.
Question 12. ‘Coaching after training helps to increase the transfer of training on the job’. What is your opinion?
What they agree on
One hundred percent of respondents (100%) agree that coaching after training helps to increase the transfer of training on the job. Statements around this question include: Coaching can make the training relevant to the team, company, and the economy, and that if organizations are truly serious about changing or shifting patterns of behaviour within their teams, there must be training follow- up. This follow-up does not have to be coaching; it could be further facilitation or group efforts to increase transfer.
Research has shown that through training, most teachers can acquire new skills and strategies to add to their instructional repertoires*. However, the literature also identifies a frequent failure to transfer new knowledge to classroom practice among trainees. Building on previous research, the study reported that they investigated the effects of peer coaching on the classroom application of new teaching techniques…
Major findings are as follows:
- Peer coaches can be trained in a relatively brief period to provide follow-up training to other teachers. For peer coaches, continuing access to training and continuing work on content training are important factors.
- Peer coaching increased the transfer of training rate for coached teachers compared to uncoached teachers.
- Students of coached teachers performed better on a concept attainment measure than did students of un-coached teachers (Showers, 1984).
* Transfer of new items of repertoire is more difficult than the transfer of skills that polish or “fine tune” models of teaching that lie within the existing repertoire.
The writer suggests that the following options could be used for trainees to aid the transfer of knowledge and skills back to their jobs:
i) successful peers, trained in the same subject area, could be trained to coach their peers to increase the transfer of training back to their jobs;
ii) the trainer who has coaching skills could work with trainees to assist them to acquire further knowledge and knowhow through the use of coaching, and
iii) managers, supervisors or team leaders who have knowledge of the subject area could be trained as peer coaches to assist trainees to transfer training to their jobs.
The population for this research, although small, has by their responses, opened doors to new knowledge, as well as forged some links based on previous research. It is important to note that the researcher concurs with many of the comments made by the respondents.
The survey results:
i) have helped to create a useful document on which the writer can build,
ii) could serve as a starting point for trainers who are contemplating adding coaching to their ‘bag of tools’, or
iii) could offer useful information to someone who may want to expand on this research.
The writer supports the discussion that knowledge of the subject area brought by the coachee as well as knowledge of the process itself are useful in coaching. How the coach manages this knowledge will determine whether the opportunity will be provided for the coachee to identify and achieve set goals, a necessity for moving forward.
The closing thoughts given by Leon Vanterpol in his interview, sums up the value of coaching, facilitation, and training to people development.I brought 3 strengths together-training, coaching and facilitation. My feeling is that, it is incumbent on anyone doing this kind of work to have all three. I now see the incredible value that coaching has added to my facilitation and training work, and I am glad I brought that in as a 3rd pillar. The great facilitators that I know also have some background in coaching and mentoring. It seems that the skill set brought in, is so very complementary and necessary; in part, because of follow-up work, and also in how they engage the group in training changes. I have seen trainers who have no experience in coaching and no experience in facilitation and these trainers are more like those professors in school who stand in front of a class and lecture. They have no capacity for moving a group toward the learning outcome let alone individuals. As a trainer takes on facilitative techniques…they learn differently how to work with individuals in the group. As a coach, when you work with individuals within a group, so much more can be done in a training programme itself.(VanterPol, 2013, November)
The respondents have provided supporting information that they too have experienced changes in their design, facilitation and delivery of training since being trained or since enrolment in a coach training programme – a very useful and worthwhile change. This is an acknowledgement for ICA’s coach training programme in which 5 of the 6 respondents and the researcher were trained or are enrolled in their coach training programme. The writer concurs with Rogers (2009) that
[t]raining 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 (p. 1).
The writer’s goal is to continue to increase knowledge and skills in coaching, to provide that ‘powerful complement to training’.The writer sincerely hopes that others may find this paper useful.