-Achieving Behavioral Change with validated Coaching Techniques
(includes some extracts from new text book ‘Behavioral Coaching’ by Zeus and Skiffington – to be published by McGraw-Hill in September. 2003)
Changing behavior with the right techniques and delivery mechanisms can have a dramatic, beneficial influence on human dynamics, the cultural and environmental context of an organization, and the output of the system – the organization’s performance.
Only validated, behavioral scientific models, accelerated behavioural change techniques, competencies and behaviours identified in robust studies by leading academics are ever mentioned or used in our courses. Other coach training courses may use other models or derivatives of: ‘NLP’, the GROW model, counselling or other well-intentioned approaches -however, on what verifiable evidence is their model, practice and philosophy of coaching based? Successful organizational coaching is not a suitable domain for employing un-scientific, outdated, unproven, simplistic coaching models, user-fits-all personality profiling, motivational dialogue and goal-setting.
Coaching models, if they are to achieve sustainable, measurable results must be designed and based upon robust psychological, definitive proven modeling and management principles together with the specific needs of real-world organizational clients.
Coaching in business was first documented in case studies by psychologists in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Yet clearly, coaching is not a form of psychotherapy but an amalgam of a number of professional disciplines (such as: consulting, adult learning, psychology, sports psychology, counseling, leadership and management training etc). However, coaching has recognized that in order to achieve real behavioral change, it has to utilize scientific models which require professional guidelines and care in their use.
Any practicing coach today who has failed to formally undertake appropriate coach training with a recognized licensed provider in the instruction and use of behavioral techniques that have a psychological foundation, can inflict real confusion, pain or suffering on a client (individual and/or organization). The damage incurred can be both legally and financially disastrous for both the coach and the client. In recent years there have been a growing number of legal actions brought against ill-trained “coaches”.
The quality of training programs promoted by a wide range of coach training providers varies considerably. For instance, we frequently receive feedback from students about their dissatisfaction with the models, methodologies and processes presented in some of these courses. Most of the courses, contrary to their sales pitch, turn out to be just another introduction to coaching. Indeed, our Coaching courses were designed specifically to meet the demands of coaches for best practice, easily applied, behaviourally-based coach training.
The Harvard Business School (Journal, July 2002) recently warned companies about the perils of hiring unqualified executive coaches : “..This can have disastrous consequences for the company long term and can exacerbate the psychological damage to the person targeted for help…Unless these Executive coaches have been trained in the dynamics of Interpersonal relations, however, they may abuse their power often without meaning to… To best help their executives, companies need to draw on the expertise of ..executive coaches with legitimate skills.”
According to T. Butler, the Director of Harvard’s career development program: Coaches need to have a solid grasp of relevant psychological-based tools and techniques that can accurately determine such things as: what motivates people, what are their personal values, fears etc. Coaching is not mechanical. It brings to bear [the coach’s] knowledge of business, politics (how things work) and psychology. People who fail at coaching assignments typically…have a program, a formula approach. [They say,] ‘ We’re going to give you all this feedback, you’re going to set some goals and then you’re going to be a changed man or woman.’ It doesn’t happen because it’s not personal enough. It’s not deep enough. But you certainly don’t need require a degree in psychiatry to be good coach. You just have to be well-trained in how to take an open-minded, scientific approach.
Executives usually seek coaching in the areas of problem solving and decision making, persuading and influencing, managing their time, resolving conflicts, delegating responsibility, building and leading teams, empowering others, communicating effectively, giving and receiving feedback, and making important presentations. Even in these areas the coachee’s efforts can be affected by an unconscious conflict. The executive coach then needs to recognize and assess the conflict and know how to work with it. The ability of a coach to translate behavioral feedback into an action plan is critical in creating an effective development plan for the executive. The coach must be able to also determine the relationship between personal behavior and the organizational and business context in which the executive operates.
Coaches do not need to be trained in psychology but certainly they require a working understanding of interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, organizational behavior, familiarity with the world of business as well as ethical standards to work within their realm of expertise and to honor the trust placed in them by both the client-organization and the executive.
All coaches do not have to be psychologists and nor are psychologists trained or necessarily suitable to become a coach. Organizational coaching is not the place for psychologists who do not have passion and respect and understanding for business and organizations and, a first-hand understanding of the demands of the leadership roles from first-line supervision to middle management to the top executive.
However, coaching is all about achieving behavioral change and change is a psychological process. A successful, professional, ethical coach has to understand, be confident and competent in the psychological aspects of coaching and a master in the use of a range of behavioral change techniques and validated psychological-based tools that bring about genuine, lasting, measurable results. To do so requires personalized training, supervision and mentoring by an appropriately qualified trainer (preferably an individual who is a university credentialed educator, licensed clinician/experienced psychologist and an experienced coaching practitioner).
“Coaching Psychology” is a term often confused with other forms of coaching such as, “behavioral coaching”. Coaching Psychology (usually taught to psychology students) is a discipline that has a theoretical base stemming from facilitating lifeskills training, social work and professional counseling. Our Courses only use practical, proven, psychological-based tools and processes that are industry-focused and can be easily applied and learnt by our students who do not require any training in psychology.
Coaching Practitioners today are working in a more knowledgeable, demanding marketplace and realize the critical requirement for any coach training and professional development to include helping skills and psychologically-based methods of change. Supervision by a professionally qualified educator with some psychological expertise is now a must -as this not only provides the necessary credentials and skill sets but also contributes to the coach’s learning and development -ensuring the coach is working within his or her personal and professional limits of competence.
Many vital practice protocols, techniques and assessment instruments a professional coach requires are only available to coaches trained and mentored by a facilitator who is also a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr Skiffington’s industry-proven Certified Master Coach Course meets the critical needs for business and executive coaches to be trained and mentored in the use of validated, reliable psychology-based tools and techniques.