The Madras management association, of late has been very active under the dynamic leadership of Capt. Vijayakumar. Evening programs are organized by the association almost every other day of the week, on varied topics of interest to members. However, I have not been able to attend most of these programs in view of the geographical distance of our Hyundai plant (Sriperumbudur) from the city.
All the same, when I saw the topic slated for the 22nd of June 2015 I was excited; all the more when I observed that one of the facilitators would be Ms. Shyleshwari Rao, a competent facilitator who has done quite a few programs for us as external faculty. My mind was made up and I decided to attend this program. Mr. Kumar Sachidanandam of Cognizant technology solutions was the other facilitator. The former is a professional certified coach of ICF (International coach federation) and the latter an associate certificate coach. They are directors and board members of the Chennai chapter of ICF. The session was chaired by Mr. Suresh Bethavandu, Head, corporate HR, Cognizant.technology solutions.
At the outset the facilitator, Kumar sought to make a distinction between teaching, training, instructing, mentoring and coaching which is often used interchangeably. This was done in an interactive manner taking the inputs of the participants. Teaching is theory oriented while in training the focus is on doing. All other methods, according to the facilitator falls short in today's volatile economic scenario that involves overnight change of business models, undercutting by competitors or abrupt closing down of business due to unexpected reasons like it happened in the case of Nokia in Chennai.
Coaching is a partnering process. It inspires the coachee to be futuristic, goal oriented and accountable. It clearly sets out an action plan for moving from position A to position B .Coaching is an individualized process. Each person has different needs. Hence the need for the coachee himself to identify the issue and also the solution. The coach probes in such a way that the coachee himself finds the solution from within. The process is time bound and is arrived at mutually. Other needs such as whether 'any other support' is required or whether he desires monitoring of his progress are all discussed and finalized.
Next, the various elements of coaching were discussed. The process involves the following:
- A coach and a coachee.
- One to one communication
- Mutual trust
- Timeliness- to be completed within an agreed period
- Client's decision to go with the particular coach and his ownership of the process
- Ethics statement – coach not to divulge information to any third person whether it is the boss or wife
Tips on choosing a Coach
1) Ensure the coach is ICF affiliated- Though this is not a must, such affiliation ensures desired competence. Certification by alternate competent coaching bodies is also acceptable.
2) Candidate has undergone specific training hours as a coach say minimum of 750 hours
3) Verify credentials and testimonials
4) Ensure that he has the right area of expertise that you are seeking- For a need in enhancing communication skills, coach with financial expertise won't do and vice versa!
The facilitators then gave the participants an exercise to do called "Wheel of Life" to get them to have a perception of how they are doing in various areas of life namely career, personal growth and learning, money, health, fun/leisure/recreation, significant other/Romance, physical environment(e.g. home) and friends and family.
The ‘Wheel of Life’ model gives you a ‘bird’s eye view’ of your life and a snapshot of your level of satisfaction with areas like career, money, relationships, and health. Based on the reflection and insights you will now want to make a plan of action. Coach can help you identify as to what you need to be doing for a more wholesome life. Other models like 'Agile Coaching model' may also be used for this purpose.
Ms Shyleshwari then invited a volunteer and did a practical demonstration of coaching. The process was to ask the coachee questions to probe into the real issue of the coachee in order to come out with an action plan as a solution. In the instant case the volunteer is working in IT industry. He expressed a feeling of being "drained and exhausted" and of "going nowhere"
Probing or clarifying questions to this were "What do you mean by drained and exhausted?"
“I am worried by the uncertainties..."
“What type of uncertainties?"
"The situation of losing your job."
"What could be the reason for losing the job?"
“Problem of being outdated. I need to have additional certifications."
Further conversation helped the coachee to come to the conclusion on his own that in a demanding environment, he needs to update himself and for that he came out with a time bound plan as to how he would go about it. He was asked whether he wanted any monitoring or support. He replied that he wanted the coach's help in monitoring his progress.
As the last lap of the program, we had a lively discussion wherein among other things the need and the advisability of going to an external coach was discussed. It was suggested by some in the audience that such help may not be necessary as the solution is actually elicited from the client himself. Others felt that close relatives or friends could play this role and thus save a lot of money paid to professional coaches. However, at the end it was clear that many of the qualities that is assured from a professional, as for example ‘confidentiality ‘cannot be expected from informal relationships. Further, it was pointed out by the facilitator that even reputed surgeons refrain from conducting surgery on their own close relatives. The reason is that emotion and subjectivity may come in the way of doing what needs to be done.
Coaching is an area that is slowly gaining in importance. In the west, Marshall Goldsmith ( work detailed in the book” what got you here, won’t get you there”) and others have proved the efficacy of coaching. It may not be too long before it becomes a highly sought after skill in our country. Against this background, it was a treat and rewarding experience to understand the basics of coaching from the professionals.