Coaching-The why series- by Sandy Bassil

Following a successful career in Learning and Development for many years, one would think moving to coaching would be the next logical step. But this wasn’t the case for me. I chose to become a certified coach for what it represents; the value I believe it brings to individuals as well as organizations. Even though coaching is very popular in USA, Europe, and some Middle Eastern countries, Lebanon seems quite the virgin field when it comes to this discipline. Thus, my Why series; a number of articles to shed the light on "what” coaching is, "why” it is beneficial to professionally progress as individuals and or organizations and "where” coaching is more successful than Training, Mentoring, Counseling or even Therapy!

The first article in the "why” series will handle the difference between Training and Coaching; the first being an essential tool to learn new skills, especially for beginners in the professional fieldWhether it is instructor led, online self-learning, or a blend of both; the amount of learning at the end of a well-designed training program is surely high and valuable.

The success and the value of each training program is related to the post training value it brings to the organization. What would be the things that people will do differently? How the newly learned or acquired skills and behaviors will impact the business and move it forward? In other words; what would be the return on investment (ROI)?

Commonly, organizations use the Kirkpatrick model to evaluate "the learnings”, thus the training value and this through four levels:

Level 1: Reaction

The degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging and relevant to their jobs

Level 2: Learning

The degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment based on their participation in the training

Level 3: Behavior

The degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job

Level 4: Results

The degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and the support and accountability package

The first level "Reaction” inspires trainers to create new ways to enhance the learning in the training room: exercises, games, activities, competitions, examples, real case scenarios… the list goes on and on aiming to make the learning fun, engaging, and of course relevant first to the goals of the "learnt subject” and mostly relevant to the goals of the organization. The evaluation is simply a feedback and evaluation from the participants.

As for the second level, The "Learning”, trainers design creative methods to evaluate the learning of the participants. Starting from a formal test, to role plays, case studies, scored presentations… all are ways to assess the learning and the skills acquired.

When it comes to the third and fourth levels "Behavior” and "Results”, the evaluation is rather more difficult. A typical behavior of people following a training program is going back to the workplace and present to their colleagues what they have newly learnt and their version of how they see it best applied; however, when it comes to implementation, things become harder to measure.

Training is very beneficial when it comes to "teaching” others how to do a certain task in a structured standardized way: How to design a training session, how to run an interview, how to conduct an appraisal, how to handle a customer complaint, how to ask questions in a sales call… Somehow these skills can be monitored in terms of implementation and results. The Guest Satisfaction survey scores, number of complaints, materialization of the sales calls, increased business demand and/ or income are some examples of those measurements.

However, when it comes to behaviors like leadership and all what comes with it like communication, managing performance, coaching team members, decision making, empowering others… which have a huge impact on the organization, the change of behavior and the results after a training program are very difficult to be seen and measured. Here comes to play the role of "Leadership and Executive Coaching” in boosting the performance and marking high efficiency work results; as per  a study published in FORTUNE magazine, stipulating that "Training alone improved leadership skills by 22%. When combined with Executive Coaching, improvement jumps to 77%”.

So what is coaching then? The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as "…partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment.

Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work believing and building on the fact that every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve. He or she encourages the client’s self-discovery and elicit client-generated solutions and strategies while holding the client responsible and accountable for their decisions, actions and their respective outcome.

This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.”

Coaching can be done on one to one basis, on group basis, or a blend of both while the typical duration of a coaching program varies from 7 to 12 months.

Are we able to measure the effectiveness of coaching? Well facts and figures never lie and that’s why ICF has invested in extensive research to demonstrate the highly effective nature of coaching. The studies reveal high levels of satisfaction among coaching clients and validates a significant return on investment (ROI) for companies. According to the ICF Global Coaching Client Study, the vast majority of companies (86%) say they made at least the sum of their investment back.

In fact, almost one in five people (19%) saw an ROI of 50 times their investment, while a further 28% saw an ROI of 10 to 49 times the investment.

So what makes coaching work?

  • The deep listening that a coach offers in the coaching conversation allows him/ her to ask deep and thought provoking questions, and this leads to "Aha” moments. We hear a lot in the coaching conversation the coachee saying: "I never thought about this issue” or "I’ve never seen it from this perspective” or "now I understand what is blocking me from taking action”.
  • Coaching moves people out of their comfort zone. During the coaching conversation the coach challenges the coachee to take small steps and eventually to grow.
  • In the coaching partnership Accountability is key! The coachee is held accountable for achieving his/ her goals. This creates a drive to effectively implement the actions he/ she decides to accomplish.
  • The fact that we have a trusted advisor to support our development gives us motivation to move forward with our actions.

When the aim of each organization is to get the best Return on what they invest in their people; only the right program should be selected to achieve that goal. So what would be the program that scores in a perfect scenario a negligible margin of error to align the best return with the best investment; a blend of coaching and training maximizing then the return with a long lasting and tangible results.

Like this article? The upcoming one will handle Coaching and Mentoring; stay tuned!

Sandy Bassil Chidiac

Executive and Leadership Coach| Career Coach| Master Trainer

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