Coaching, as a subject, has come across multiple stages in my 11 years of HR career. However, I never paid much attention to it as I always assumed that I didn’t have the patience or the interest to explore what it entails until I decided to take a break from work. In the corporate world, I had the opportunity to witness the Coach and Coachee relationship from far due to executive and life coaching engagements that were run periodically, but little did I know that “Coach is the learner and Client is the expert.” My view on the coaching engagement completely changed in the first few seconds that I heard this sentence. On reflection, this statement provides the fundamental basis for setting the coaching relationship’s tone, coaching objectives, and architecture. It makes a clear demarcation from other techniques such as training, mentoring, and counseling. Learning and experiencing this fact on the first day of the program opened specific mind frames within me and sparked my curiosity to explore what I can do in this space.
Coaching requires a high degree of self-management, have trust, respect for self and others, unconditional positive regard, patience to have one conversation at a time effective communication, and maturity to consider people as a whole, resourceful and creative. It was interesting to hear real-life stories that qualify to refer out a client. At the end of the day, coaching is a life-changing journey, and as advocates of the profession, it is our responsibility to maintain its authenticity.
Apart from the theoretical concepts that we learned, there were several practical exercises that we had to be involved with throughout the program. It was quite fascinating for me to witness the “power of silence.” The ground-breaking self-realization was the more space you give in, the easier it becomes to carry a coaching conversation. It was evident for me that 99% of the times, the client (or the Coachee) himself finds the answer to the question they are seeking to be coached with. It was a tested and proven ideology for me that the higher our self-awareness is, more comfortable it is to find solutions to a problem. In situations where self-awareness is low, it is the responsibility of the Coach to handhold the client and navigates him or her to achieve what is best or needed by them.
Each of us is quite unique in our ways of learning. Some individuals are more visual or auditory or kinaesthetic or prone to adopt a combination of learning styles. Therefore, a Coach needs to be flexible enough to fine-tune his or her style of communication by recognizing the learning styles of a client. Coming from an HR background, it was easy for me to understand and spot the individual behavioral traits in the training room. I also felt I could connect easily with individuals who had high visual representation in their learning styles.
More often, I find myself express better in writing or by sketching or by painting. I also find it quite joyful to gift something that is hand made by me. On the other hand, when I choose gifts for individuals, I take a considerable amount of time to think about the likes and dislikes of the person. During college days or at work, I prepare mind maps that help me to keep track of things. These qualities and behaviors within me further reinstate the fact that I’m a highly visual and kinaesthetic learner.
What I enjoyed the most was listening to inspirational stories of everyone within the room. Each one of them was unique and was on a different timeline. There was high energy within the room, and an invisible comfort net was created around us, helping to reveal our truths, admit mistakes, and be open to change. There is so much to learn by meeting new people and listening to their success or failure stories. The cultural, age, and gender diversity within the group added more color and liveliness to our learning journey. The friendships built within the room felt more genuine than the ones you created at a fine dining restaurant. The conversations during coffee and lunch breaks were focused on getting to know each other. There was never a dull moment, and respect for one and another was easily noticeable. These surroundings were personally quite impactful to me and indeed motivated me to wake up with positivity and reach the session ahead of time.
I wonder if a similar level of high regard and consideration will be maintained if the same group of people was within an environment of an organizational set-up, yet what is evident is that injecting positivity or negativity remains with each individual. If there is unconditional positive regard within an office environment, organizational success stories would be endless, and conflicts will hardly be seen. Another valid reason for corporations to invest in coaching and educate HR professionals is to line managers how simple changes in values, beliefs, and attitudes can contribute to massive gains.