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Chapter 5: The Role of the Coach


One of the most significant shifts in learning and development is the growth of the role of the line manager as a sponsor of learning in the workplace. As illustrated in Chapter 7, the new styles of learning encompass many different routes, and to support them effectively the managerial and supervisory structure needs to be different.

Traditionally many large corporations have provided training/learning development support through either internal training functions or external consultancy support. Increasingly, driven in part by the growth of leaner organizational models, organizations have recognized the need to focus learning and development through the line management structure.

As head office or centralized training functions have reduced in size or disappeared this has meant a fundamental change in the role of line managers. They have needed to develop new skills and different behaviours. Where organizations have embraced this opportunity and provided their people with nourishing development experiences, there is the indirect impact on the bottom line noted by Goleman (see Chapter 4). This is further endorsed by the comment by Marcus Buckingham of The Gallup Organization that 'people join companies and leave managers'.

If you are developing a coaching infrastructure or are becoming a coach yourself it is important to recognize what this new coaching entails. From a practical perspective there is potentially a limit on the scope and scale of this coaching. As discussed in Chapter 6, the coaching conversations that are carried out in the workplace are limited by the amount of time, the location and the individuals involved. What is important is trying to create a coaching relationship that is as natural as possible; people should not feel that they are taking part in some kind of role-play. The coaching behaviours should become embedded in the day-to-day activities within the workplace.

If we think about workplace coaching and profile the role, there will be certain behaviours that will identify those individuals who most naturally adapt to the role of a coach. There are the attitudes and behaviours that are demonstrated by the very best leaders and managers, and are built on a genuine interest in others.

However, to develop effectiveness as a coach it is helpful to understand more about how people learn, how people react and adapt to change and what motivates people to want to do things differently. This was covered in Chapter 3. From a personal perspective it is worth identifying and understanding some of the tools and techniques used by coaches.

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