Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Problem with Coaching

The problem with coaching is that there are many problems with coaching.  I'm referring here to the word "coaching".  This relatively new use of the word, (for an industry that is only about 20 years old) quickly became a buzz word and hot button in many organizations.  "Have you got a coach?" became a popular question around the water cooler.  However, the results have been mixed, with many organizations wary of coaching initiatives because previous efforts failed to hit the mark or were not result-focused enough.

Unfortunately, the word coaching has many connotations and is easily misunderstood by the mass public.  Few truly understand the coaching process much less the power of it.  Some liken a coach to a personal trainer for your career, others refer to them as a shrink, and still others discount the potential of working with a coach since coaches are known not to give advice... "well what good are they then?".

To add to the confusion is that coaching is a self-regulated industry and one does not require a license or certificate to call themselves a coach.  Buyer beware: ask about training and credentials before hiring a coach!

A coach may have expertise in other areas but when they are coaching they are usually not consulting, counseling or mentoring.  Coaches are usually very clear about what role they've been asked to play and are intentional about switching hats.  The challenge for those of us who do offer several services, such as coaching, consulting, and facilitation is that labeling ourselves as a coach is a hindrance.  We run the risk of being stereotyped into others' interpretations of what a coach is, and the full breadth of what we have to offer is missed.

For these reasons, Sabine and I at Integra are presenting ourselves as People Dynamics Specialists, as we focus on culture, conflict, teams and organizational relationship dynamics.  Have you got a PDS?!?

1 comment:

Sabine Fischer said...

I ditto Sue's perspective on the mess we currently experience in the coaching profession - if there even is such a thing! How is anyone to identify a coaches purpose or their credentials? We now see people calling themselves "trading coaches" or "options coaches" (in the investment industry) and "wellness" and "fitness" coaches in the personal fitness area. How then do we distinguish between subject matter experts/professionals, in finance for example, where these individuals impart knowledge, opinions and advice upon the public they address, from professional coaches as Sue describes them? I guess you just have to do your homework! What kind of professional are you dealing with and what do you want to get out of the coaching engagement?
I am a financial advisor by training myself, and used to advise my clients in managing and developing their portfolios, but what I do now as a coach has NOTHING to do with what I did then! Coaching has become a buzz words and many professions use it as such - this is not surprising in a new profession. What it means is "caveat emptor" - buyer be aware.