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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Development and Learning in Organizations, Volume 22, Issue 4
Coaching is becoming increasingly popular as an organizational learning tool and when talked about, people often assume that all parties to the conversation understand the meaning of the term in the same way. However, the reality of what “coaching” might be in practice is far more rich and complex. We have therefore brought together this special issue, presenting you with a delicious smorgasbord of different ideas, tools and developments in the field.
We start with Ian Cunningham’s Viewpoint which proposes an alternative to the extremes of largely non-directive coaching and the more instructional approaches. He advocates that an initial focus on developing a deep understanding of the individual and their patterns allows for a far more grounded joint exploration of possible solutions.
David Clutterbuck kicks off the article feast by providing an excellent mapping of what is happening in this emerging field, including a succinct explanation of the differences between coaching and mentoring - terms that can confuse when they are used interchangeably.
We move on to two articles that explore techniques drawing from the world of therapy. Firstly, Roland Nagel’s article provides us with a useful summary of the tools and features involved in “Solutions Focused Coaching” which is based on the principles of Brief Therapy. You might also spot a distinct similarity with the methods of Appreciative Inquiry. Secondly, Marie-Anne Chidiac offers a case-study to illustrate her germane description of “Paradoxical Coaching”: how change can occur through the individual becoming more of what they are, rather than trying to be what they are not. This is an important aspect of Gestalt psychotherapy.
Phil Donnison provides a well-argued reminder that, in this era of increasingly international organizations, coaches need to be acutely aware of the different cultural contexts and norms of their coachees. He draws on the work of Hofstede to illustrate some cultural patterns that any coach working in an international context might need to take into account.
Building on an article in a previous issue of DLO (Vol. 20 No. 4), David Piggott uses the world of sport to illustrate some important lessons for coaches and managers in organizations. He uses contrasting theories of learning to provide a fascinating exploration of how coachees might be assisted to learn (or not) from their mistakes.
Our review articles begin with “Coaching: a change management tool - the importance of sense making”. Here we are presented with a concise description of the contribution that “Sensemaking” can make in a coaching relationship. Key elements of the process are identified and the importance of the coach’s role in creating a safe space for reflection is particularly highlighted.
“Coaching in the workplace - improving performance” provides some practical thoughts and suggestions on how to set up coaching interventions that might have the best chance of resulting in improved performance for the individual and the organization. This review is followed by “Preaching the Holy Trinity of recruitment management - coaching success with goals, performance and buy-in”. Whilst a small study of a competency based coaching program for middle and senior managers engaged in the US Army, nonetheless it does add to the anecdotal views of the previous article. The results indicate an overall improvement in performance for both groups involved - and at a greater level for the middle managers.
Our last review article takes us back to where we started - that things are not yet clear in the emerging coaching world. “Clarity among coaching confusion - intervention technique which still needs some explaining” flags a number of differences such as the conflicting opinions that can arise between providers and buyers of coaching services. Despite all this confusion, statistics are provided that indicate, at least in organizations in the UK, the trend for coaching activity at all levels is upward.
I hope you will enjoy the variety of perspectives that having this special issue on coaching allows. Looking forward to 2009, please get in touch with any ideas on topics in the learning and development arena that you feel are also worthy of our focused attention.
Anne GimsonAnne Gimson is based at Strategic Developments International, UK. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org