Research Paper By Sarah Mills
(Health, Wellness and Fitness Coach, SOUTH AFRICA )
How to find the right balance of control between coach and client during the coaching relationship, so both coach and client benefit from motivation and empowerment.
As the war for talent continues, companies are increasingly turning to coaching as a principal means of developing their existing people in an effort to produce extraordinary results from almost everybody. Businesses moved to coaching as the limitations of traditional classroom training became more and more obvious. Lack of transfer in learning and lack of sustained behavioural change pointed toward the need for more individualized, more engaged, more context-specific learning. (Bacon, T., & Spear, K., 2003)
This research paper is on how both client and coach collaborate in order to create the coaching process. The focus is on the characteristics which are needed within the coaching relationship in order to create sustainable changes in the form of ongoing empowerment and motivation. By emphasizing the central role of the client’s perspective, the results of this paper bring attention to the balance of control within the coaching process, which is essential for building the most beneficial coaching structure for both client and coach respectively.
Coaching from the client’s perspective
If coaching is to capitalize on the promise it holds, we need to understand more specifically what constitutes effective coaching in the eyes of the client. (Bacon, T., & Spear, K., 2003)
As coaches, we strive to make a difference. The difference we make is measured by the client’s progress. Their progress is a reflection of our worth, how much we’ve put in and how much has emerged from our efforts. To take it further, our ability to join our efforts with the efforts of our client is the determining factor for calculating the effectiveness of the coaching process. This is because the client is central to the role that the coach plays. It is only through intensive collaboration with the client that the coach will be able to determine what particular progress the client is calling for. In fact, without the client’s initial input, their acknowledgement of our contribution and their embracing of recognized progress, there is no coaching taking place. Since we as coaches depend so much on our clients, it seems only logical that we must emphasize the client’s perspective as the determining factor at each point in our coaching relationships.
The challenge is to unlearn that deeply embedded, directive model of helping in favour of one that is more mutual, more collaborative, and more centered on the needs and preferences of the other person. (Bacon, T., & Spear, K., 2003)
Bacon and Spear (2003) mention two primary coaching styles, directive and non-directive. The former is said to be preferred by coaches and the latter by clients. The underlying difference between the two is that a directive coaching style is where the coach likes to hold the power by directing and informing the client, while a non-directive style gives the power to the client who then directs their own focus and takes the lead in the coaching sessions.
A change in management style at companies, mentioned by Bacon and Spear (2003), has been the primary cause for the shift in thinking from directive to non-directive treatment of employees. Research into motivation and empowerment has shown that employees are happier and thus more productive when given certain power over their company position (Rayburn M.J., & Rayburn L.G., 1999). Thus when companies incorporate coaching into their corporate structures, coaches are exposed to this shift and their contribution towards it. Whether coaches are hired by the company or by the private individual, their clients are coming into contact with this non-directive way of thinking and have responded positively to it. Thus it is our responsibility as coaches to respect, as well as see the benefits in promoting, this non-directive manner in which people thrive.
The main difficulty we as coaches face with this non-directive coaching style is that we too want to feel some level of control over our role as the coach. Rayburn and Rayburn (1999) state that many managers see giving power and control to employees as an illogical move because of the employee’s lack of experience and skill. Since this manner of thinking has been the driving force behind much of the progress that has brought us to current times, it seems evident that as people, we are in the habit of seeing things this way, however, as coaches we need to put this past behind us. It is important to note, however, that we still need to feel empowered by having control over our coaching relationships.
In order to discover where we as coaches can have control, we first need to establish what clients need in order to feel empowered. Thereafter we can create a framework which enhances both our own and our clients’ motivation by creating the right balance of control.