A good relationship starts with good communication.

In this week’s blog, we continue our examination of the benefits of business coaching. In the first instalment, we defined coaching and discussed four of the principal needs that can be effectively addressed in the context of a coaching relationship. Today, our focus shifts to building and maintaining the coaching relationship. We begin by establishing why strong relationships are so pivotal to successful coaching and then go on to highlight the essential steps that all coaches  including supervisors and managers who have an obligation to help their staff meet performance standards can follow in order to secure strong and mutually beneficial relationships.

Establish Rapport

Rapport is a state of mutual trust. Trust can be hard to establish and easy to lose. In a June 2014 article, HR.com recommended the following five tips for building and maintaining rapport:

  1. Be curious : ask lots of questions. In addition to enabling you to glean valuable information, your skillful use of questions sends a clear message that you are interested in your client/coach.
  2. Listen attentively : in the absence of attentive listening, your use of powerful questions go to waste.
  3. Utilize mirroring : the study of neurocysticercosis has shown that we can establish subconscious bonds when we mirror the demeanor, language and breathing patterns of the persons with whom we engage.
  4. Focus intently : the coaches/client should be the center of attention during your interactions. Eliminate all distractions and let the coaches know that you have done so.
  5. Display understanding : having applied the preceding tips, it is then important to reinforce the bond by showing that you understand and can relate to what the client has shared. The caveat here is that showing understanding is not the same as endorsing/agreeing with what has been shared. Rather it is about acknowledging that you have truly heard and appreciated what has been shared.

Define Relationship and Terms of Engagement

The first blog in this series made the distinction between a coaching relationship and other relationships such as mentoring, counselling, consulting and training. To maximize the value of a coaching relationship, it is essential to ensure that parties understand the precise nature of the relationship and that expectations are managed. At the onset, the coach and coachee need to establish the specific terms of engagement. Here again it is useful to make certain key distinctions.

  1. Coaching is about providing guidance as opposed to issuing commands and directives.
  2. Coaching is about providing support as opposed to issuing rewards and punishment.
  3. Coaches facilitate development and growth as opposed to mandating compliance.
  4. Coaches have a responsibility to challenge thinking as opposed to dictating right and wrong.

Maintain the Relationship

Once established, the coaching relationship must be carefully nurtured. The following tips can help to realize that objective:

  1. Allow the coachee to act autonomously.
  2. Encourage coachee to take responsibility.
  3. Support the learning and development process by reviewing accomplishments and setting new goals.

Once a solid platform has been established in a coaching relationship, attention can then turn to addressing the performance of the coachee. In the next instalment in this series, we will present a specific model for use in performance/business coaching conversations. In the meantime, individuals or organizations desirous of exploring the possibility of procuring coaching services are invited to submit a request for a complimentary exploratory consultation. One of our UTDS associates will contact you within 24 hours of receipt of your request.

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