COACHING- A TOOL FOR CHANGE
Human species have undergone numerous changes physically and intellectually. As per the evolution theory, this universe has always followed the mantra of “Survival of the fittest”. Those who learned the art of survival, not only survived but outperformed the others also, because they were open to change. An inevitable result of the change is the need to learn. They may have to change because of the new challenges of survival, competition, working practices, or new technological changes. All types of changes required people to learn new knowledge, new skills, and willingness to adapt and adopt. But wise people say that most of the new learning happens with unlearning of some old concepts and beliefs. One factor that always remained common to all kinds of learning is the readiness for change on the part of the learner.
In earlier days in India, ‘Guru Kul’ system of education was prevalent, where the pupils would stay at the Guru Kul (Equivalent to Present-day residential school) and the Guru, the teacher would have enough time to know each and every pupil so well that he could identify their strengths and weakness and make them work on them under his supervision. This system produced the best of soldiers, scholars, craftsmen, and medics. Guru Dronacharya, the master of battle-craft was able to produce the best students in the form of the Pandavas and the Kauravas because he could observe them personally and train them constantly using his skills. In the present day context, we could term him the best coach, who was able to guide his students to rise to their potential and be the best in what they wanted to be. One such recent name that comes to my mind is the coach of the Indian Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, Shri Ramakant Achrekar, who gave his entire life to make his pupil the greatest of all in his craft. Sachin, who has been an iconic sportsman throughout his career, adulates his coach like a demi-God. There are many examples of great sports coaches. Even Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, the Indian Missile Man, always wanted to be known as a teacher because of the respect attached to the craft of teaching.
What is Coaching?
Coaching is a one-to-one training technique that makes learning a personal experience. It establishes a bonding between the trainer and the learner. Coaching is a very strong medium of training and sharing. This method provides ample scope for personal monitoring and immediate feedback to the trainee. This enables the trainer to develop a training plan suitable to fulfill the training needs of the learner as well as the operational requirements of the organization that he works for. The coach employs this method by dividing his coaching into digestible chunks. He plans tasks to increase the ability of the learner by putting him through planned tasks to get the experience and monitors the implementation of the skills so acquired in the execution. He guides the trainee with constant correction as and when required to achieve the desired level of performance. The learning is drawn through these tasks.
What is the task?
A Task is an activity or a series of activities that have a specific outcome. These tasks may be used to determine the level of improvement in the performance before the coaching session after the trainer has given his feedback on the performance of the learner and the implementation of the advice received.
Tasks, further, can be classified as:
1. Productive Tasks
2. Reproductive Tasks
Reproductive tasks have a standardized format or set procedure to get work done. Every performer may follow the same steps while performing such tasks. As in the case of starting a computer, everyone has to take a series of pre-determined steps. There will be a repetition of the same steps every time you start your laptop.
Productive tasks are where there is no set of rules for everyone to, each can do the task in his own way without conforming to a particular format or standardization. As in the case of drawing a painting, each person can draw or paint as per his own imagination or creative capability.
As a coach, we must remember that each task is work-related activity, whether at home or at the workplace, and leads to a specific outcome.
While planning a coaching session for any learner, his needs must be kept in mind. In one-on-one coaching, it is the person being coached, who will be the center of the action. Training a person to learn something new to enhance performance is always very challenging, especially in a one-to-one relationship. At the same time, it can also be very productive. The coach will have to develop a personal relationship and comfort level with the coachee to get the desired performance levels.
The learner to be the center of activity
The coach would like to use trainee centered approach so that all the actions in their session provide an opportunity to the learner-client to improve. The coach will be available to the trainee at every step. The coach has a very active role to guide, advise, and instruct where ever required. He has a dual role in seeking information and giving information. While giving information, the coach shares facts, procedures, and explanations with the client and also seeks details from the clients when he wants his queries to answer. He has to summarise the main learning points at the end of each session.
A coach has to prepare himself for each session for the desired results. A suggested format for such preparation can be as given ahead:
1. Keep all materials, papers, and tools laid out in the correct sequence.
2. Gain the full attention of the learner.
3. Share brief details about the task, its purpose, and how it is relevant to the learner’s needs.
4. Show the right of doing the task to the learner through a planned demonstration. Repeat actions, if required, for the learner to develop a clear understanding.
5. Check understanding by the trainee to confirm the learning.
6. Provide the trainee an opportunity to practice and get clarifications from the coach.
7. Let him Practice at his own pace.
8. Carry out performance assessment through a pre-planned evaluation test.
9. Provide feedback to the learner to minimize mistakes and do better in the future.
Coaching is a specialized mode of training and has been very effective for personal and professional development. If delivered effectively, it can make the experience very memorable and easier for both the coach as well as the client.
(Major Pardeep K Shinh)