A coach facilitates a conversation. Coaches create an environment in which a coachee considers an issue that challenges them or an opportunity that has arisen and where they wish to make progress. The coachee is enabled to articulate goals and to generate and consider options before identifying what they will do next in order to achieve those goals.
The coach will not offer advice or guidance or impose their own agenda, nor will they intrude into areas that the client wishes to keep off-limits. Coaching can be a rigorous experience; a coach will often reflect what has been heard from the coachee to allow the coachee to hear their own inner thought processes spoken in another’s voice. Coaches will also, on occasion, challenge an assertion or a line of thinking to enable the coachee to review their internal dialogue.
The value of coaching is that it allows an individual to work with an objective, impartial “thinking partner” who will enable them to focus on the issues that are important to them and to arrive at self-generated solutions. Coaching complements the relationship between an individual and their manager/supervisor/head of department; it does not replace that relationship. All coaches should adhere to a recognised code of ethics, such as the European Mentoring and Coaching Council Global Code of Ethics.
Coaching is different from mentoring in that coaches bring coaching qualifications and skills, but usually have no direct experience of the area of work of their coachees, while a mentor will often bring relevant knowledge or experience of the mentee’s area of work to share with the mentee. Research among UK employers found coaching to be one of the top three most effective learning and development practices (CIPD Learning and Development Report 2015).