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Mastering individual effectiveness through the coaching process.

Given the War in Iraq and the -unpredictable economy, many organizations are cautiously spending training dollars. Dollars traditionally spent on "group training' have in many cases, been reallocated to "one-on-one training', or what is best known as personal of Executive Coaching.

Coaching, once believed to be a term associated with sports activities, has increased in popularity for many reasons, the first of which is measurable results. While group training is certainly beneficial, it is often difficult to assess the individual impact such training actually has.

In the coaching process however, goals are set, and both the coach and the individual are able to easily track results as they monitor performance together. More importantly, results can also be observed by the organization in the form of improvements in individual behavior, performance, and effectiveness.

What are the benefits of Personal or Executive Coaching?

The coaching process is often credited for providing the tools necessary to "break the barriers' of an individual's current performance level. Regardless of one's level of self-motivation and self-drive, opportunities for job enhancement may not exist without acquiring new skills or behaviors.

In order to determine the level of assistance that can realistically be provided, and to warrant the investment for the individual or for the organization, a Personal Coach must evaluate the following:

1) What are the expected or desired results?

2) How does "current reality" measure up to expectation or desire?

3) What changes are needed to ensure expectation of desired results are met?

Once these questions are answered, the Coach must then determine whether the individual in question is actually capable of meeting the expectation or desired result. The time and effort required for these goals must also be determined. Doing so will require assessing individual strengths, abilities and natural tendencies, using past performance as the guide.

Say for example that a person wants to be promoted to the 'next level" in their current job. A checklist of questions would include:

[check] What strengths does this person have in learning new skills?

[check] How much will the person have to learn or change?

[check] What was the last job change this person experienced?

[check] How long did the 'transition' period take for the last opportunity?

[check] What percentage of goals does this person set and meet regularly?

[check] What percentage of goals are typically declared and never started?

[check] What is driving this person's willingness to participate in this process?

A Coach who truly has the individual's best interest in mind will advise against any job enhancements of goals, that are likely to result in failure based upon past performance. Therefore, it is critical to understand how realistic the desired result of expectations are.

How do you know if a Coach is needed?

Organizations who decide to invest in a Coach usually do so when one or more of the following conditions exist:

1) Employee has been targeted for a promotion and needs to polish skills

2) Employee has shown interest in being fast tracked in the organization, and has demonstrated potential for such growth

3) Employee is on a Performance Improvement Plan and the organization wants to provide every opportunity for success

Individuals who invest in a Coach are likely to consider this process when one or more of the following conditions exist:

1) Disappointment in personal performance and unachieved goals

2) Loss of personal drive and motivation: unsure as to the cause

3) Life change and/or career more is on the horizon, and guidance is desired

Regardless of who makes the investment, the need must be established prior to enlisting a Coach, or the process is a waste of time and money for all involved.

Once the 'need' is established, it is important to evaluate the likelihood of making the changes without assistance. Individuals who are highly motivated and self-regulated will typically need 'direction' versus guidance with each step. Those who are less motivated will be more interested in having a mapped plan of smaller goals with objectives designed for each goal. These individuals will also be additionally motivated if frequent opportunities to measure success are incorporated into the process.

What specifically does a Personal Coach do?

Once you and your Coach have designed your goals and the objectives and approach for achieving those goals, then the "process' may include a variety of activities. The personalized plan will depend upon the situation, as well as the Coach you choose.

In most cases, the Coach will provide typewritten notes, request specific times for phone conferences or face-to-face meetings if possible, and will invite calls whenever you experience situations in which you feel 'stuck'. Some individuals speak to their Coaches weekly, while others may hold monthly calls or meetings.

No two situations are ever exactly alike because no two people are 'exactly alike'. Behavior patterns and needs are specific to individuals, and therefore must be treated as such. Determining what is best for you will only surface from discussions held between you and your Coach. The Coach must then customize the plan to fit your needs and time constraints associated with those needs.

For example;

If you are attempting to apply for a promotion and only have two months to improve upon your skills, the Coach will require more frequent contact of updates from you. The plan in this case will be a two-month customized effort with 'realistic' goals set during that time period. This is of course assuming that the Coach agreed that the two months was both reasonable and feasible given your history and skill set.

On the other hand, if you are interested in changing careers or jobs at the end of the year, and you hire your Coach in June, the process for attaining goals will be disseminated over a six-month period.

How much does a Coach cost? The better question is what value can be placed on the goals achieved, or on the "new and improved' you? What price would you attach to the promotion or to the changes if successful?

An experienced Coach may cost anywhere from $100 per hour to $250 per hour if face-to-face, and possibly less if the majority of the time spent is via phone. Some coaches prefer to charge a package price which includes a set number of hours by phone, unlimited email exchanges, notes, goal sheets, etc. In certain cases, it is more advantageous to allow unlimited calls and email exchanges for a monthly, negotiated rate.

While cost must be considered, it is equally important to factor in the service you will be receiving. When you spend 15 minutes with a doctor, you are charged the same as someone who spends 45 minutes with the same doctor. In both cases you are paying for the "advice' or 'care' you receive.

What price tag can you place on your health or happiness? If you receive the advice, guidance, and support you need to launch yourself into the next level of your career, or to break old patterns of behavior, how would you determine the value?

How do you find a Coach?

The best means of selecting a Coach is by word-of-mouth. It boils down to determining who you know that has had a coaching experience, and inquiring as to what results were achieved. If you know someone who was successful in meeting personal goals because of a commitment to the coaching process, then the recommendation warrants further investigation.

Be sure however, to draw upon personal experiences with this person if possible. Ask yourself if the person is someone who typically has succeeded at everything they have ever attempted anyway, or if you can personally attest to the changes that have manifested during their coaching process? Are there visible signs of positive changes in this person's behavior, personal or professional life?

If you do not have a personal reference, the next best step is to check within your Human Resource Department to see if your organization has ever hired coaches for internal purposes. HR representatives are a good resource and will likely share the quality of the experience, as they know ii to be. Working with a Coach who is familiar with your organization may also be advantageous if your goal is career-related. A Coach associated with your organization will likely be aware of the style of the organization as well as the mission, values and trends.

In the event you cannot find a Coach through your work environment, check with local organizations you are affiliated with.

Once you are given the names of a Coach or Coaches to contact, be sure you ask for phone numbers of people they have coached so you can call for references. Ask specific questions of those you call such as:

* Can you describe the coaching process you experienced?

* What part did you find most helpful?

* What part did you find least helpful?

* How many goals did you set?

* How many goals did you achieve?

* Would you use this Coach again?

* Had you ever had a Coach before this?

The Bottom Line;

It all funnels back to you: What ii will take for you to set and achieve your goals, and what is the likelihood of you succeeding without support or guidance?

Any investment you make in yourself is worthwhile as long as you are willing to follow the advice you are given. It is no different than going to the doctor or dentist: you pay whether you use the advice or not, so spend your money wisely!

Nancy Mercurio is President of Leadership Training Systems Inc. and is a globally televised author, trainer and coach for Fortune 100 organizations. Website: nmercurio@ leadershiptrainingsys.com.

By Nancy Mercurio, President Leadership Training Systems
COPYRIGHT 2004 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Empowering People For Success
Author:Mercurio, Nancy
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Dec 22, 2004
Words:1612
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