Coaching in the workplace research recommendations

 

Brief summary of “Coaching in the workplace” research report carried out as the part of the Master of Arts study at Chester University during 2018-2020.

1 Introduction

This research tries to answer the research question “What can I as a trainer of coaching skills for managers do, to ensure, that the managers are well prepared to face the challenges they encounter when returning to their workplaces on completion of their training”.
The initial idea for the research was a result of developing the “Coaching in the workplace“ course in 2017. See figure 1.

Skills Focus: Peer coaching, Mentoring plus developing the habit of self reflection

 

Figure 1. Original schedule of the ‘Coaching in the workplace’ course  before the research

2       Research methodology

Action research methodology was chosen and outcomes from the focus groups were immediately applied to the course, which was being run at the time. 

 

3 Participants

i. Participants from my previous courses “Coaching in the workplace” from 2017-2018 have taken part in the interviews and the focus groups.

ii. Participants from other training programmes in Slovakia who successfully applied coaching skills in their workplaces have also taken part in the interviews. 

iii. My two colleagues and co-trainers who have taken part in the focus groups and the introduction of changes as a result.

4 Recommendations

The research undertaken has identified six main challenges participants face on return to their workplaces. These are:

skills, 

motivation, 

manager/coach dilemma, 

time management, 

company culture and 

company not understanding coaching. 

These are common to all the course participants involved in the research whether they were participants on courses 1, 2 and 3 or participants of other course providers (CS). Although there are many activities in coach training which work well and are supportive in helping to overcome these challenges, these focus primarily on skills acquisition, rather than on their application to the real working environment. 

Activities  which already work well in coach training are building the skills through experiential learning throughout the course, building the habit of  reflection through peer coaching as well as mentoring and supervision and strong support of the lecturers throughout. 

The main recommendation of this research is to bring in during the training, in addition to the skills focus, a parallel focus on the application of the skills to the real-world environment.

Specifically, the research recommendation is to:

- support the participants to forward pace themselves before and during the course to overcome the challenges, 

- facilitate the opportunities to do that and 

- In addition, as this varies from company to company and from individual participant to participant, use the coaching skills learned during the course as an instrument of change to solve their own issues of application. 

- Finally, give further individual and group support after the course completion when the real world hits them

4.1.1 How?

As the research interviews were framed to look at the broader view of the course, including the activities happening before, during and after the course completion, recommendations are also made in the same framework.

4.1.1.1 Before the course

- Detailed communication about the course, involving the preparation to inform the company, the line manager and finding a person to coach and partner with. 

- More detailed individual interview to find out not only the needs of the participant, but also the  purpose and meaning as well as bringing in the topic of how prepared they are for challenges they may face

4.1.1.2 During the course

- Make the experiential learning (practising coaching skills)  more directive; select the application of coaching in the participants’ own workplaces as the topic of coaching conversations throughout, to solve individual participant issues, as each participant has a unique set of circumstances in their workplace. According to Raelin (2008, p. 24), “Experiential learning has a valid role to play as a pre-curser to a real work-base experience; however, it cannot be a substitute.” 

- Build strategic partnership support groups immediately after module 1 of the course.

- Introduce in the latter part of the course the real workplace applications of coaching to practise with, such as micro-coaching and development conversations.

- Invite visitors who successfully apply coaching in their workplaces to the course to share their journey, challenges and experiences.

- Encourage the development of participants’ own coaching style and freedom of application without being tied to structure, whilst adhering to the coaching principles

4.1.1.3 Between the modules

- Use peer coaching conversation topics around the application of coaching to their workplaces.

- Use time between the modules as a pilot, to become a practitioner at the earliest possible stage (Raelin, 2008) to embed the work-based learning.         Otherwise,  “simulated experience often makes reality appear to be tidy and logical” (Raelin, 2008, p. 24). 

- Mentoring – use recordings of work-based clients, instead of any clients, i.e. family, friends, etc.

- Bring in supervision immediately after completion of Module 1 in the form of action learning focusing on the application of coaching skills to the real work-based environment, creating space for public reflection and building a community of practice (Western, 2019). This is also supported by Raelin (2008, p. 125): “Through public reflection, we create a collective identity as a community of inquiry”. 

- Introduce, as part of the homework, tools for self-reflection, such as reflection sheets and diary.

4.1.1.4 After the course completion

- Continue using the reflection diary for self-reflection.

- Carry out minimum of 2 hours of individual coaching of participants on the topic of the application of coaching to their workplaces, building a developmental relationship with the participants (Raelin, 2008). 

- Continue with action learning for three to six months after the course completion, sharing the experiences of application of learnt skills in their workplaces, building on the community of practice (Western, 2019)

- Offer additional module one to two years after the course completion to hone their skills in the workplace, now understanding better their unique application issues and the challenges they are facing.

5 Conclusion

To summarise the key elements:

Bring in the application focus in parallel with the coaching skills focus before the start of the course, during the course and after the course completion to pace and prepare the course participants for the challenges ahead, facilitating the opportunities to do so.

Support the participants throughout the course and beyond to share their unique application challenges and learning their own way through them by early introduction of action learning during the course and after the course completion.

Support the participants after the course completion by individual coaching focused on their unique application challenges to overcome the issues not yet anticipated or perhaps greater than anticipated.

Encourage the participants throughout the course to develop their own coaching style, meeting their unique personal preferences and styles and unique places of applications to which they return to after the coach training.

Encourage the participants to allow themselves the freedom of application, to rid themselves of the straight jacket of structured coaching conversations, so vehemently adhered to whilst learning the skills and processes; thus applying the coaching skills learnt in a day-to-day encounters in the workplace in the form of the communication and leadership style, while still maintaining the ethics and principles of coaching.

Provide opportunities for further professional development after some time has elapsed and participants better understand the application issues and finer points of coaching after real work experience, such as noticing coachable moments, showing appreciation and other coaching opportunities.

See Figure 3. For current schedule of the “Coaching in the workplace” course.

Coaching in the workplace course diagram after:h

Skills Focus: Peer coaching, Mentoring plus developing the habit of self reflection

Application Focus: Coaching topics, Partnerships, Action learning, Follow-up support - Individual coaching and Action learning

 

 
   

Figure 3. Current schedule of the Coaching in the workplace course after implementation of the research recommendations

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank all the research participants for their contribution to this research, and also in particular the Coach training school providers in Slovakia for allowing me to carry out the interviews with their successful participants.

 

Researcher:

Zlatica Maria Stubbs, PCC (ICF), Master of Arts - Coaching in the workplace. 

Professional Coach, Trainer, Mentor and Coaching supervisor

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Bell, J. (2010). Doing Your Research Project(5th ed.). Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.

Bresser, F. (2010). The Global Business Guide for successful use of coaching in organisations(1st ed.). Cologne, Germany: Frank Bresser Fachbuch.

Busi, M. (2013). Doing Research that Matters; Shaping the future of Management.Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Cameron, S. a. (2009). Business Research Methods, A Practical Approach.London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Chester University, C. (2018). IS6023 Desighning Practitioner Research, Ethical considerations, lesson 8. Retrieved from www. moodle.chester.ac.uk.

Clutterbuck, D. D. (2016). Building and Sustaining a Coaching Culture.London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Dawson, C. (2009). Introduction to Research Methods(4th ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom: How to books.

Denscombe, M. (2010). Good Research Guide for small scale social research projects(4th ed.). Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.

Elliot, J. e. (2005). Participary Methods Toolkit: A Practitioner's manual.(S. S. Lisoir, Ed.) King Baudouin Foundation and Flemish Institute for Science and Technology Assessment.

Elliot, J. e. (2005). Participary Methods Toolkit: A Practitioner's manual.(S. S. Lisoir, Ed.) King Baudouin Foundation and Flemish Institute for Science and Technology Assessment.

Grant, M. A. (2013). Developing the leader as a coach: insights, strategies and tips for embedding coaching skills in the workplace. Coaching: An International Journal od Theory, Research and Practice, 6(2).

Grant, M. A. (2017). The third 'generation' of workplace coaching: creating a culture of quality conversations. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 10(1).

Leigh, A. (2007). Sustaining culture change. Training and Management Development Methods, 21(1).

Mark. L. Mitchell, J. M. (2013). Research Design Explained(8th ed.). USA: Wadsworh Cengage Learning.

McCartan, C. R. (2017). Real World Research(4th ed.). Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

McComb, C. (2012). Developing a coaching culture: are your coaching relationships healthy? Industrial and Commercial Training, 44(4).

McGovern, J. P. (2001). Maximising the Impact of Executive Coaching: Behaviour Change, Organisational Outcomes and Return on Investment. The Manchester Review: A Journal for People and Organisations in Transition, 6(1).

Mercer, J. (2007). The challenges of insider research in educational institutions: wielding a double edged sword and resolving delicate dilemmas. Oxford Review of Education.

Morgan, K. J. (2013). Barefoot Coach Supervision training programme.

Murdoch, E. J. (2013). Full Spectrum Supervision.St. Albans: Panoma Press Ltd.

Pemberton, C. (2006). Coaching to Solutions, A Manager's Toolkit for Performance Delivery.New York: Routhledge.

Quinland, C. B. (2015). Business Research Methods(1st ed.). Andover, United Kingdom: Andrew Ashwin.

Raelin, J. A. (2008). WORK-BASED LEARNING, Bridging Knowledge and Action in the Workplace.

Robson, C. K. (2016). Real World Research(4th ed.). Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Saunders, M. N. (2015). Research Methods for Business Students(7th ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited.

Scarlett, H. (2016). Neuroscience for Organisanal Change.London: Kogan Page Limited.

Somers, M. a. (2007). Coaching at Work: Powering your Team with Awareness, Responsibility and Trust.Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

VanderStoep, S. W. (2009). Research Methods for Everyday life: Blending Qialitative and Quantitative Approaches(1st ed.). San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, Incorporated.

VanderStoep, S. W. (2009). Research Methods for Everyday life: Blending Qialitative and Quantitative Approaches(1st ed.). San Francisco, United States: John Wiley and Sons, Incorporated.

Vella, J. (2002). Learning to Listen Learning to Teach, The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Western, S. (2012). A Critical Text(1st ed.). London, United Kingdom: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Western, S. (2019). Leadership, A critical Text(3rd ed.). London: SAGE Publication.

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Záborská, P. (2016). Odborné poradenské služby na Úrade PSVR Martin INAK. Rezortné Správy, 19-20. Retrieved from euro guidance: https://web.saaic.sk/nrcg_new/kniznica/2016/zbornikNC_SK_2016_WEB.pdf

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3 Participants
i. Participants from my previous courses “Coaching in the workplace” from 2017-2018 have taken part in the interviews and the focus groups.
ii. Participants from other training programmes in Slovakia who successfully applied coaching skills in their workplaces have also taken part in the interviews. 
iii. My two colleagues and co-trainers who have taken part in the focus groups and the introduction of changes as a result.
 
4 Recommendations
The research undertaken has identified six main challenges participants face on return to their workplaces. These are skills, motivation, manager/coach dilemma, time management, company culture and company not understanding coaching. These are common to all the course participants involved in the research whether they were participants on courses 1, 2 and 3 or participants of other course providers (CS). Although there are many activities in coach training which work well and are supportive in helping to overcome these challenges, these focus primarily on skills acquisition, rather than on their application to the real working environment. 
Activities  which already work well in coach training are building the skills through experiential learning throughout the course, building the habit of  reflection through peer coaching as well as mentoring and supervision and strong support of the lecturers throughout. 
The main recommendation of this research is to bring in during the training, in addition to the skills focus, a parallel focus on the application of the skills to the real-world environment.
Specifically, the research recommendation is to:
- support the participants to forward pace themselves before and during the course to overcome the challenges, 
- facilitate the opportunities to do that and 
- In addition, as this varies from company to company and from individual participant to participant, use the coaching skills learned during the course as an instrument of change to solve their own issues of application. 
- Finally, give further individual and group support after the course completion when the real world hits them
4.1.1 How?
As the research interviews were framed to look at the broader view of the course, including the activities happening before, during and after the course completion, recommendations are also made in the same framework.
 
4.1.1.1 Before the course
- Detailed communication about the course, involving the preparation to inform the company, the line manager and finding a person to coach and partner with. 
- More detailed individual interview to find out not only the needs of the participant, but also the  purpose and meaning as well as bringing in the topic of how prepared they are for challenges they may face
4.1.1.2 During the course
- Make the experiential learning (practising coaching skills)  more directive; select the application of coaching in the participants’ own workplaces as the topic of coaching conversations throughout, to solve individual participant issues, as each participant has a unique set of circumstances in their workplace. According to Raelin (2008, p. 24), “Experiential learning has a valid role to play as a pre-curser to a real work-base experience; however, it cannot be a substitute.” 
 
- Build strategic partnership support groups immediately after module 1 of the course.
 
- Introduce in the latter part of the course the real workplace applications of coaching to practise with, such as micro-coaching and development conversations.
 
- Invite visitors who successfully apply coaching in their workplaces to the course to share their journey, challenges and experiences.
 
- Encourage the development of participants’ own coaching style and freedom of application without being tied to structure, whilst adhering to the coaching principles
4.1.1.3 Between the modules
- Use peer coaching conversation topics around the application of coaching to their workplaces.
 
- Use time between the modules as a pilot, to become a practitioner at the earliest possible stage (Raelin, 2008) to embed the work-based learning. Otherwise,  “simulated experience often makes reality appear to be tidy and logical” (Raelin, 2008, p. 24). 
 
- Mentoring – use recordings of work-based clients, instead of any clients, i.e. family, friends, etc.
 
- Bring in supervision immediately after completion of Module 1 in the form of action learning focusing on the application of coaching skills to the real work-based environment, creating space for public reflection and building a community of practice (Western, 2019). This is also supported by Raelin (2008, p. 125): “Through public reflection, we create a collective identity as a community of inquiry”. 
 
- Introduce, as part of the homework, tools for self-reflection, such as reflection sheets and diary.
4.1.1.4 After the course completion
- Continue using the reflection diary for self-reflection.
 
- Carry out minimum of 2 hours of individual coaching of participants on the topic of the application of coaching to their workplaces, building a developmental relationship with the participants (Raelin, 2008). 
 
- Continue with action learning for three to six months after the course completion, sharing the experiences of application of learnt skills in their workplaces, building on the community of practice (Western, 2019)
 
- Offer additional module one to two years after the course completion to hone their skills in the workplace, now understanding better their unique application issues and the challenges they are facing.
5 Conclusion
To summarise the key elements
Bring in the application focus in parallel with the coaching skills focus before the start of the course, during the course and after the course completion to pace and prepare the course participants for the challenges ahead, facilitating the opportunities to do so.
 
Support the participants throughout the course and beyond to share their unique application challenges and learning their own way through them by early introduction of action learning during the course and after the course completion.
 
Support the participants after the course completion by individual coaching focused on their unique application challenges to overcome the issues not yet anticipated or perhaps greater than anticipated.
 
Encourage the participants throughout the course to develop their own coaching style, meeting their unique personal preferences and styles and unique places of applications to which they return to after the coach training.
 
Encourage the participants to allow themselves the freedom of application, to rid themselves of the straight jacket of structured coaching conversations, so vehemently adhered to whilst learning the skills and processes; thus applying the coaching skills learnt in a day-to-day encounters in the workplace in the form of the communication and leadership style, while still maintaining the ethics and principles of coaching.
 
Provide opportunities for further professional development after some time has elapsed and participants better understand the application issues and finer points of coaching after real work experience, such as noticing coachable moments, showing appreciation and other coaching opportunities.
 
See Figure 3. For current schedule of the “Coaching in the workplace” course