What is relational coaching about?
I think coaching is effective because it offers a safe space for thinking through ideas and situations arising at work.
The coach is external to your organisation and the contract is for confidentiality, so you can explore a whole range of ideas, issues, anxieties, pressures and uncertainties without feeling judged or it impacting on your role and place within the organisation. The relational model of coaching that I have developed assumes an equality between the two participants, we both bring skills, knowledge and expertise. We both contribute to the development of the relationships and the outcomes achieved.
There is a process of ‘collaborative enquiry’, building on a curiosity about what is going on and how that impacts on you. We look at the meaning and potency of relationships and communication at work, and ways of shifting or reframing them, to be more positive and effective. This process may include supporting you to become more aware of the blocks to your work, blocks that probably stop you taking charge of your life and development. I bring my own experience of working in organisations, theoretical models of adult learning, organisational development, team dynamics, systems thinking, the impact of relationships and so on.
The first phase of the coaching relationship is negotiating a contract for how we spend the time together. There are of course practicalities like time, place and costs, but just as important are a consideration of personal and organisational agendas, these may differ and it is important for us both to be aware of that. Most important is the developmental agenda, what do you want to get from the coaching and how might you recognise that for yourself? My task is to maintain a balance between the elements of growth and challenge and making sense of the present whilst preserving a focus on the goals you have identified for yourself.
My core belief is that we human beings naturally and implicitly strive for growth and wholeness. Thus we are looking for what gets in the way of that natural process, what is stopping us from being our selves, developing in a balanced way. I think also that change happens most easily when we are thrown out of equilibrium, resolving that becomes an impetus for doing something new or different. A sense of dis-equilibrium is possibly what brought you into coaching in the first place. The role of the coach is then to be a catalyst, to facilitate this change, with information and ideas , with questions, by listening and responding, and encouraging exploration. As a coach I work to balance building and developing your strengths and healing those parts that have been wounded by earlier experiences and assumptions. One of the common themes is that of holding tension and recognising differences and inconsistencies. There is no rule that says we have to be consistent but unacknowledged inconsistencies can lead to real anxiety and drain our energy. Recognising them and making some sense of them, without having to smooth them out or get rid of them is an important part of this process.
In the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we now work in containing and managing anxiety is more important than ever. The task of the coach is to support you to explore that anxiety, understand it better, find ways to manage it and protect yourself from it, and ways of applying that learning in the world outside the coaching room. I sometimes use the GROW model, moving between identifying the goal desired, looking at the reality around it, identifying options for change, growth and development, and the will to act or respond.
This approach will hold the people in the relationship while they are meeting, supporting the growth of new ideas, the development of new skills and the application of new knowledge. Coaching ends end by reviewing where you have come from and where you think and feel you have got to, what has changed at work and in you.